Things to know before visiting Boulders Beach

Gophari at Boulders Beach

I’m Farirai, I’m 28 and I’m an African travel blogger who also works as a chemical engineer in South Africa. I write travel guides to give you key information to make your traveling easier. Always feel free to ask me questions in the comments.

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This post is about what to expect when visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach in Western Cape, South Africa. Let’s get into it.

Why are there penguins at Boulders Beach?

Penguins are usually associated with icy locations so it can be surprising to find out that penguins live on a sunny beach in Western Cape, South Africa. So I did some research and found out that the African penguin colony started as two pairs of penguins that settled at Boulders Beach in 1983. Today there are over 2000 African penguins living there. This is the only place in the world where you can get this close to and swim with African penguins.

How to get to Boulders Beach

Boulders beach is located in Simon’s Town which is 42km from Cape Town city centre. So if you’re in Cape Town, you will need to think about how you’re going to get there. You have a number of options:

  • Option 1: Hire a car
  • Option 2: Uber
  • Option 3: Train
  • Option 4: Private tour

Which ever option you choose, consider including a stop at Muizenberg beach which is famous for its colourful huts and is a great place to surf.

How much is entrance to Boulders Beach?

Boulders beach is one of 6 main attractions of the Table Mountain National Park which is part of the conservation authority, South African National Park (SANParks).  This means that Boulders Beach is protected and managed to ensure sustainable tourism is practiced.

There is a conservation fee required for entry to Boulders Beach. The conservation fee was as follows in June 2019:

South African residents: R39 for adults; R20 for children

SADC nationals: R76 for adults; R39 for children

Other: R152 for adults; R76 for children

Entrance fees for Boulders Beach

When to visit Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is open throughout the year. The entrance and exit times are slightly different depending on time of year but are in the region of 8am to 5pm.

When I went to Boulders Beach at 12:00 in June, there were no penguins on the immediate beach you see when you enter. I had to climb over and between the boulders to find the penguins – who knew this is what it takes?! Afterwards, I drove to the boardwalk viewing deck at Foxy Beach where I saw plenty of penguins.Note: You only need to pay once for dual entry to Boulders Beach and   to the boardwalks at Foxy Beach.

I later learnt that there is a penguin calendar and a time of day when penguin activity is high.

The best time to visit is breeding season from February to August and early in the morning or in the late afternoon.

In September and October, you will see fewer penguins on the beach because they are at sea, feeding and fattening up for moulting season.

November to December is moulting season during which the penguins’ old feathers shed and replaced with new feathers. The penguins are at shore and less active during this period and appear fluffy.

Can you touch the penguins at Boulders Beach?

They look so cute and harmless but touching and holding the penguins is not allowed for the best interest of your safety and the protection of the penguins.

The African penguin is an endangered species and irresponsible tourism is listed as one of the threats to their existence. It’s so important that we travel responsibly so make sure to follow all of the rules and isntructions when visiting Boulders Beach.