South Africa is famous for its long coastal stretches and world class vineyards. Pristine white-sand beaches, epic surf spots and row-upon-row of vineyards are all calling cards for the country, and visitors come in the thousands, drawn by the vast diversity of varietals and the endless stretches of coastline. The only question is which do you do first? Sample an award-winning vintage or soak up the sun on a Blue Flag beach? The good news is that you can do both with a number of the country’s winelands within a stone’s throw of the beach.
Cape Town boasts some of the country’s most iconic wine routes – the Constantia Valley and Durbanville Wine Route are considered to be amongst the best South Africa has to offer – as well as some of the most popular beaches. From the pristine white, sandy stretches of Clifton 1 through 4, Camps Bay and Llandudno (where you can spend your days lounging in the sun and your evenings sampling cocktails at one of the many beach-side bars a short walk/drive away) to iconic surfing spots like Long Beach, Dunes, Glen Beach and Dungeons, the Mother City is an epic mix of superb wines and spectacular beaches.
Stellenbosch is arguably the most famous of the country’s wine regions with a number of South Africa’s most famous wine farms located here, but while the wine is why most people visit, there are also a number of beaches a short drive away. Strand Beach is the closest, and arguably the most well-known, and is a perfect spot for families, with a tidal pool and some rock pools for kids to explore, and some decent surf conditions for those looking for a good break. Bikini Beach, just outside of Gordon’s Bay, is around a 30-minute drive from Stellenbosch and boasts Blue Flag status. Named after the bikini-clad students who frequent the beach, the water is warm, calm and clear.
It’s hard to believe that when travelling through the gorgeous green, rolling hills of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley - a mountainous region dotted with such incredible wineries like Creation, Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Bouchard Finlayson and Newton Johnson - that just 10km away are the coastal towns of Hermanus and Onrus, where you will find some of the Western Cape’s most idyllic beaches, including Onrus Beach and Grotto Beach (Blue Flag).
An iconic beach getaway – and heart of the Whale Coast – Hermanus is renowned for its cliff walks and the Walker Bay amphitheatre, while Onrus is a lovely town to put your feet up and soak up some rays. A little further out – around 30-minutes to be exact – and you will find the rugged, natural beauty of De Kelders and Gansbaai. The Gansbaai Tidal Pool, between De Kelders and Gansbaai, is perfect for a dip, with a smaller pool making it ideal for families, while Stanford’s Bay in De Kelders is a wonderfully secluded cove, ideal for swimming between the rocks.
Die Plaat, meanwhile, is part of the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, and is a long, pristine stretch of beach, with activities including hiking, angling and swimming – although the water this side can be rough. Entry fee required.
Cape West Coast
Few places can compare to the Cape West Coast when it comes to diversity, both in terms of terrain and what is on offer. The Darling Wine Route lies inland, but not far from coastal towns such as Yzerfontein and Langebaan, while the West Coast Wine Route, made up of wineries like Fryer’s Cove, Sir Lambert Wines and Teubes Wines is unique in how close a number of the estates are in proximity to the coast.
The wines produced here have as unique a flavour as the region they are made, with their location having a huge impact. Of course, this also means there are a number of incredible options for those seeking some white sandy beaches, after sampling some of the vintages on offer along this route. Lambert’s Bay and Yzerfontein are both much-loved surf spots, while Langebaan and Paternoster are small coastal towns famous for their crystal clear water and long stretches of beach.
The bulk of the Agulhas Wine Route’s vineyards are located near the small village of Elim and it is the southern-most lying wine route in the country. The region is becoming well-known for its Sauvignon Blanc and is producing some very good Semillon and Shiraz. Frolic in the waters where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet at Agulhas – beware of the strong current - while keen fishermen will definitely do well to cast their lines from the rocks here. Struisbaai Beach, just 10 minutes away, is one of the most visually stunning with its seemingly endless coastline, white sands and deep blue water. Swimming here is safe and diving is hugely popular with plenty to see. Further out, but worth the drive is Arniston Beach, a perfect spot for families, with safe swimming conditions and soft white sands made for long walks along the beach.
Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route might be home to one of the smaller wine routes in the Western Cape, but when it comes to beaches, it punches well above its weight. Central Beach is the biggest – and the busiest – beach and has plenty of activities, with marine safaris, kayaking trips and dive charters based here, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars for when you are in need of a bite to eat or chasing sundowners. It is also a mere 2km from the centre of Plettenberg Bay, making it one of the easiest beaches to access in the coastal town. Largely considered to be a summer vacation spot, Plettenberg Bay has SIX Blue Flag beaches, with Lookout Beach, The Dunes, Keurboomstrand, Nature’s Valley Beach, Robberg 5, and the Singing Kettle Beach, all flying the flag proudly.