Africa has some of the best beaches in the world. Tourists will be flocking to them soon as those in the southern hemisphere take summer holidays and those from the north look for ways to escape their winter.
So where are Africa’s top beaches?
In drawing up the list I have taken both an objective as well as subjective approach.
For the objective assessment I have used the ratings of the Blue Flag awards as well as my own research. South Africa is the first country outside Europe as well as the first African country to implement the Blue Flag scheme. It currently has 39 fully complied beaches with another 30 in the process of complying.
For my subjective list I have drawn on my own experience and knowledge as well as experiences of friends and family.
The top performers
Africa has some wonderful beaches. A serious traveller or beachgoer should certainly visit at least one of them once in a lifetime. The list below is not in order of preference, but offers would be travellers different opportunities and experiences.
Most of South Africa’s Blue Flag beaches are in the Western Cape followed by KwaZulu-Natal and then the Eastern Cape. Blue Flag award beaches have to comply with 33 criteria including safety, cleanliness, environmental management and water quality. The award can be revoked if a beach does not comply.
The longest running Blue Flag beaches in South Africa and a must visit are Grotto Beach in the Western Cape, Humewood Beach in the Eastern Cape, and Ramsgate and Marina beaches KwaZulu-Natal.
From a more subjective standpoint I would recommend Tofo Beach at Inhambane in Mozambique. This is an 8 km stretch of beach that also offers diving and great sea life. Added benefits are facilities for rest and relaxation – as well as excellent prawns.
Namibia also offers tourists beautiful beaches. One of my favourites is the Skeleton Coast. It offers space and great marine life as well as ship wrecks. Crowded beach won’t be a problem. There might in fact be nobody around depending on when you visit.
Another country that offers wonderful beach experiences is Kenya. The beach I propose is Shela Beach in Lamu. It is also a UNESCO Heritage Site and is generally accepted as the country’s top beach.
I also have to include Angola. This is the new kid on the block and I propose Mussulo Bay peninsula. This is for the adventure traveller, offering wonderful beach as well fishing.
And then the islands
One of my ultimate favourites is Tanzania. I must admit I love Zanzibar. It offers great diving, snorkelling and swimming. This is a little piece of heaven on earth. Enjoying the locally produced gin is a treat as well.
If we move to Madagascar, my choice is Sainte-Marie Island. It offers beautiful sandy beaches with palm trees. Once again, diving and great sea life are on offer as well as good food.
It would unfair if I didn’t include Malawi. My choice falls on Likoma Island, which is part of Lake Malawi. This is one of Africa’s jewels. Clear clean water, great for swimming, diving or snorkelling, and friendly communities.
And then there is the Seychelles’s Anse Source d’Argent, La Digue. It is regarded as one of the world’s greatest beaches, truly something out of this world.
I could add more beaches in the west and north of the continent. But this list at least provides a taste of what Africa can offer. Hopefully the Blue Flag award scheme will be implemented in other African countries so that the continent can get its lion’s share of beachgoers, one of the biggest generators of revenue globally.
By: Melville Saayman
Professor of Tourism Management and Economics, North-West University
Melville Saayman receives funding from the National Research Foundation.