Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
Boulders Beach and the African penguins that live in a colony is a highlight of anyone who visits South Africa. These penguins are on everyone’s list of essential sights to see while visiting Cape Town. It lives up to the hype, because Boulders Beach is something special! If you are an animal lover or just appreciate beautiful scenery, it would be a great place to visit if you are visiting South Africa.
How to get to Boulders Beach
Located on the Indian Ocean, Boulders Beach offers guests warmer waters than the cold Atlantic counterpart near Cape Town city centre. Visiting Boulders Beach from Cape Town is just about an hour away from the city proper. Boulders Beach is just south of the small seaside village of Simon’s Town. Besides a personal vehicle, Simon’s Town is accessible via the train!
The best time to visit Boulders Beach would be during weekdays to avoid tourists that visit on weekends. Parking is limited close to the beach, so in order to get a parking spot, you will have to go early in the day and during the week.
There are plenty of signs directing traffic through Simon’s Town to the main entrance of Boulders Beach located off of Bellevue Road. There are two entrances: the beach and the penguins.
The signs through Simon’s Town lead to the beach entrance on Bellevue Road. Parking is limited on this side and if you want to view the main penguin colony, you’ll have a 15-minute walk on a boardwalk. The beach side offers a fantastic beach for swimming. Often penguins will come into this area, so please be respectful and give them space! If you are interested in viewing thousands (literally) of penguins first, then it would be best to turn down Seaforth road, which is before the signs say.
A long boardwalk connects both entrances. It should be noted that along this boardwalk, there are often penguin chicks within a few feet. They are worth seeing!
Boulders Beach Park
Boulders Beach Park is a part of Table Mountain National Park. Table Mountain National Park stretches from the Table Mountain everyone loves in Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope. Like any South African National Park, this means there is an entrance fee. When this post was written, adults are R70 and children are R35.
If you are a Wild Card holder, this entrance fee is waived. If you are not a Wild Card holder and live in South Africa, I can’t recommend getting one enough!
African Penguin Conservation
Most of the entrance fee of Boulders Beach goes towards penguin and wildlife conservation. South African National Parks (SAN Parks) have a fantastic conservation program and charges conservation fees for all national parks. This ensures that wildlife is a high priority for South Africa.
This money goes towards saving the African penguin habitat by keeping it clean and safe. African penguins have been declared endangered so another purpose of Boulders Beach is to create a safe space for breeding. The main predator for African penguins in the Southern Africa region is humans and byproducts of human behavior. So when you are at Boulders Beach, please realize that these are wild animals in their natural habitat so do not touch them or litter their environment!
If you are interested at all in penguin conservation, other coastal bird conservation, or volunteering with these animals, please contact SANCCOB (linked)! This is a great nonprofit organization in Cape Town and is worth looking into!
A free alternative to Boulders Beach
Though I believe wholeheartedly in wildlife conservation, I understand that not everyone has access to funds to pay for Boulders Beach. There is a free alternative right next door to Boulders Beach that still allows visitors to see penguins. As mentioned above, one entrance of Boulders Beach is off of Seaforth road, which is the same road to take for the free beach.
When looking at the ocean, instead of heading to your right to get to Boulders Beach, head to the left. Near the public bathrooms, there will be stairs down to the beach. Typically the penguins hang out between the boulders. There will not be the vast quantities of penguins as there are in Boulders Beach park, but you will still see penguins! Again, if you see penguins in the rocks or swimming, be respectful and give them space!
Boulders Beach penguin colony is one of our favorite places in Cape Town. It is rare to see penguins out of a cold setting, which makes this experience special!