Are there penguins in South Africa? If you are thinking of visiting the Insta-famous Penguin Beach in Cape Town. Here’s everything you need to know.
African penguins live in colonies on the coast and islands of southern Africa. These Penguins like to breed in places where land predators can’t reach their eggs, so small rocky islands on Penguin Beach in Cape town are ideal.
There are many things to do in Cape Town like exploring the best national parks in South Africa. One of these national parks is The Table Mountain National Park, it consists of 3 pristine beaches, 1 penguin viewing area, and 3 boardwalks.
Boulders Beach in Simonstown is one of the few sites in the world where the endangered bird (Spheniscus demersus) can be observed at close range, wandering freely in a protected natural environment.
This guide tells you how to see Penguins in Cape Town: How to get there, costs involved and everything you need to know before you go.
Where is Penguin Beach in Cape Town
Boulders Beach also known as the infamous Penguin Beach in Cape Town is located just one hour outside the city center. It’s reachable by car, train or bus. The most convenient way to get there is the City Sightseeing Cape Point Explorer Bus which stops at Boulders on its way to Cape Point.
If you opt to drive, go around the mountain via the Southern Suburbs, and leafy Bishops Court, past the Constantia Valley to Kalk Bay, then along the coast to Simon’s Town. Cape Point Drive is popular and busy especially in Summer so expect traffic.
Alternatively, you can take a train from Cape Town Station all the way to Simon’s Town (be sure to buy a First Class ticket). The train runs along the Kalk Bay coastline, an incredibly scenic train ride. From Simon’s Town, you can either take the 30 or so minute walk through the historic little naval town or catch a taxi.
Boulders Beach is part of the Table Mountain National Park where you will find 3 pristine beaches, 1 penguin viewing area, and 3 boardwalks.
The boardwalks were built as a measure to allow for the viewing of these wonderful birds, whilst keeping them safe from poking fingers, so please be sure to stay on the boardwalks at all times within the viewing area.
Interesting facts about African Penguins
- Cape Penguin is also known as African Penguins mostly eat fish like squid, anchovies, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, and herrings.
- Of the 1,5-million African Penguin population estimated in 1910, only some 10% remained at the end of the 20th century.
- African Penguins can adapt to any temperature. With their waterproof feathers which not only helps them swim swiftly through the water, but the feathers also insulate the penguins in cold waters.
- They can swim at an average speed of seven kilometers per hour, and can stay submerged for up to two minutes.
- Their life span is around 10 years.
- Their distinctive black and white coloring is a vital form of camouflage – white for underwater predators looking upwards and black for predators looking down onto the water.
Things to know before visiting Penguin Beach in Cape Town
- You can bring your dogs (only if on a leash) but they aren’t allowed on the beach, only allowed on the walkway.
- Don’t use selfie sticks through fences and near penguins.
- Don’t harass the Penguins. They have very sharp beaks and can cause serious injuries if they bite or lunge.
- Don’t remove any marine life, sand or shells.
- Don’t smoke on the beach or boardwalks.
- There are no lifeguards on duty at this beach. So take precautions.
- No alcoholic beverages are allowed on the beach.
Boulders Beach Entry Fee
If South Africans wish to claim the local rate at the gate they must bring an original ID or driver’s license.
Best time to visit Boulders Beach
Boulders Beach is open throughout the year, but If you want to see the most penguin action, summer is the best time to visit Boulders Beach. Between September and October, the birds spend much time feeding out at sea, so there are fewer penguins on the beach.
For a real treat, visit in January when the juvenile Cape Point Penguins are molting on the beach. If you’re after great pictures, visit early in the morning when the birds are most active and there are fewer crowds.
More amazing Cape Town Guides
Travel Insurance for South Africa
Use travel insurance while visiting South Africa so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in SA, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.
Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
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