Sandy toes, salty air and tasty ice cream ─ it’s summertime and the masses are migrating to the South African shore. But do you know why blue flags are planted at some of the beaches we all frequent? The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa awards annual Blue Flag status to beaches dotted along our coast according to different criteria. This year 48 beaches were awarded Blue Flag status, which means that these beaches have reached the highest standard of environmental management. TravelGround put together a list of our favourite Blue Flag beaches where you can laze the summer days away.

Criteria for beaches to achieve Blue Flag status

  • Environmental education activities must be offered and promoted to beach users.
  • The beach must meet standards and requirements for water quality analysis and no industrial or waste-water should affect the beach area.
  • The beach must be clean.
  • An adequate number of toilets must be provided.
  • Buildings and beach equipment must be properly maintained.
  • An adequate number of lifeguards and/or lifesaving equipment must be available at the beach.
  • First aid equipment must be available.
  • A supply of drinking water must be available at the beach.

Western Cape

Besides being the only province with both the Atlantic and Indian Ocean at its shores, the Western Cape also has the most blue flags blowing at 31 beaches.

Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town

The popular Muizenberg beach is a surfer’s paradise and is renowned for the row of rainbow-coloured changing rooms set along its sandy shores. During the holiday season, the beach is packed to the brim with a kaleidoscope of colourful umbrellas, and surfers and swimmers can’t resist the False Bay waves. With supertubes and putt-putt nearby, this is the perfect spot for a family day out!

Kleinmond Beach, Kleinmond

You’ll find this beach next to the lagoon in the coastal village of Kleinmond near Hermanus. The cliff paths and quiet streets are ideal for long walks with your furry friends and joggers frequent the beach at dusk. The giants of the deep roam these shores during whale season, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a few. The powdery white sand makes for creative sandcastle building among young and old and when the summer sun rears its scorching head, a dip in the lagoon is all you need. Set about an hour’s drive from the Mother City on a scenic road, this laid-back town should surely be on your summer bucket list!

Witsand Beach, Witsand

With four kilometres of bone-white sand and rock pools inhabited by stranded marine life at low tide, Witsand has one of the most striking beaches in the world. However, this is not one of those jam-packed beaches and the town has a mysterious feel to it. Witsand’s dunes boast all shapes and sizes which create a curious rumble when the wind blows through. In season, schools of Southern Right whales can be seen bobbing their fins near the coast as this area serves as their nursery. Being near the mouth of the Breede River, a lagoon and the ocean, paddling, boating and swimming are just some of the water sports that will provide you and the youngsters with endless fun-filled hours!

Eastern Cape

The warm waters of the Eastern Cape boast seven Blue Flag beaches this year.

Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay

With at least six sublime surf spots, Jeffreys Bay is a surfing mecca luring surfers from all across the globe. Dolphin Beach is the main beach in town and you’ll be entertained by dolphins frolicking in the waters all year round. This family-friendly beach offers loads of fun activities during the holidays, such as mini golf, treasure hunting and live music. Situated less than an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth, Addo Elephant National Park and Tsitsikamma, the shell-filled shores of J’Bay deserve a proper visit this December!

Humewood Beach, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth)

Located on the outskirts of the Friendly City, Humewood Beach is South Africa’s oldest Blue Flag beach offering facilities for guests with disabilities. The beach boasts golden sands, grassy areas, coastal walkways, swimming pools, a promenade and rock pools. It’s also within walking distance of numerous shops and restaurants. So, if it’s the city you crave or on a beach you belong, at Humewood Beach you’ll have the best of both worlds!

Kelly’s Beach, Port Alfred

The mesmerising water of Kelly’s Beach lies in the heart of Port Alfred and bodyboarders, surfers and children often grace these warm waves. Here you can hire boogie boards and families love spending some quality time picnicing on this pristine Sunshine Coast beach ─ calling all beach bums!


Seeing as KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa’s subtropical hub with the sun glistening on the waters all year long, this province is bound to have some alluring beaches and has been awarded ten blue flags!

Trafalgar Beach, Trafalgar

This secluded coastal cove close to the Mpanjati Nature Reserve has lifeguards on duty throughout the year and the warm waters are enticing to swimmers. This beach isn’t near any other facilities and a picnic basket, sunscreen, books and beach balls will come in handy when spending a lazy day on Trafalgar Beach.

Southport Beach, Southport

With its safe swim spots, soft sand for sandcastle building, shady picnic areas and sightings of whales and dolphins, Southport Beach will captivate the whole family. Deep-sea fishing, diving and snorkeling are also high on the popularity list and don’t forget about the many ice-cream shops in the vicinity!

Umhlanga Beach, Umhlanga

Umhlanga Beach is a favourite amongst tourists and locals in this area. There are restaurants and bars all along the coastline to relax at, and the famous Umhlanga tidal pools are also situated here. The paved walkway next to this beach is filled with interesting shops to browse at, and it leads to the impressive Umhlanga Lighthouse.

Basking in bliss at a Blue Flag beach will surely leave the entire family spellbound. So, visit these beaches this summer for some much-needed fun under the African sun!

Click here to see all the Blue Flag Sites in South Africa.

Cover image: Bigstock. Camps Bay Beach is also a Blue Flag Beach.

All other photos from

This was reviewed by Ingrid Heydenrych in 2021. 

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