Although we instinctively summon thoughts of Big 5 safaris, the African continent is also well-endowed with glorious beaches and compelling cities. Of 54 African countries, 38 nations lay claim to a coastline that accounts for 18,950 miles. These are the best beaches on the East and Southern African coast to complement any travel itinerary.
Diani Beach – Mombasa, Kenya
One of the best places to visit in Kenya for white sand beaches, Diani Beach sits to the south of Mombasa. Beachfront resorts put you at arm’s length from the Indian Ocean where a full roster of water sports are available. When you’re not swaying in a hammock, take your pick from jet skiing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and scuba diving. The Shimba Hills and blue and white-painted city of Mombasa are easy day trips from your hotel in Diani Beach.
Nungwi Beach – Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar, the gem of the East African coast, is fringed with alabaster-white beaches. Nungwi Beach stands out for its placid swimming conditions unaffected by the ebb and flow of the tides. Bring a snorkel and you can swim with reef fish right off the beach otherwise scuba excursions depart from the town. A turtle rehabilitation sanctuary is located at the east end of the beach and it’s possible to take a tour or witness the release of the sea creatures. After a day of snorkeling and sunning, you can watch the sunset while tucking into the catch of the day at one of the beachside eateries.
Boulders Beach – Cape Town, South Africa
The pristine sand and crystal-clear water barely get a look-in at this protected bay on the east side of Table Mountain. Boulders Beach is the stomping ground of a colony of African penguins. Although they’re present year-round, your chances of seeing them waddling on the sand are highest during the summer months of late December through late March. In addition to strolling along the boardwalk, it’s also possible to swim at the Cape Town beach. Not that you need more reasons to visit South Africa.
Bazaruto Archipelago – Mozambique
Lying just off the coast of Mozambique, the Bazaruto Archipelago is a dreamscape of sand dunes and aquamarine waters. Nursing humpback whales frequent the shores between July and October and dhow boat cruises offer the most unique way of encountering the landscape. It’s possible to tour these six islands as a day trip from Vilankulos on the mainland although staying in one of the luxury resorts is an experience tough to top. The exclusive 5-star resort Kisawa Sanctuary comprises 11 residences each with a private infinity pool on the beach or nestled in the rainforest.
Île Sainte-Marie – Madagascar
One final island to consider, Île Sainte-Marie is a small island off the eastern coast of Madagascar. Benefiting from year-round sunshine and palm-backed beaches, there’s no need to book a dive trip to sight the inhabitants of the beautiful coral reefs. Check into the Princesse Bora Lodge and Spa where you can experience catamaran charters, scuba diving, and seasonal humpback whale-watching.
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