Beach destinations are not usually what comes to mind when plotting a getaway to Africa. Chances are safaris and amazing wildlife pop into your thoughts first, and while that’s definitely reason enough to visit this incredible continent, Africa is also home to lots of spectacular beaches that deserve as much attention.
Harboring 18,950 miles of coastline spread out in 54 countries, it’s no wonder there are so many beautiful beaches to explore. Seriously, the continent is so vast that it can be quite difficult to decide which beaches in Africa to include in an African beach vacation itinerary.
Whether you’re yearning for a bustling beach spot with a good party scene, an almost unspoiled stretch of sand to call your own, or the perfect spot to get a tan and some relaxation, Africa and its tropical islands will deliver.
Here is a list of some of the dreamiest beaches in Africa that range from the most rugged stretch of sand by the mountains to the trendiest resort towns, passing through some of the loveliest seaside destinations in countries as varied as Kenya, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, and others.
Options range from the rugged splendor of South Africa’s Wild Coast to the paradise islands of Seychelles. Although this list of our top 10 beach destinations in Africa barely scratches the surface, it’s a good place to start a bucket list.
Best Beach Destinations in Africa
#1 Diani Beach (Kenya)
Rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole African continent, Diani Beach stretches for more than 12 miles of splendid soft sand bathed by the Indian Ocean’s pristine blue waters.
Best known for its stunning coral reefs, underwater sandbars, and its closeness to Shimba Hills National Reserve, Diani has a good selection of hotel and resort options for backpackers, honeymooners, and families alike.
Even though Diani Beach is quite popular with Kenyans and foreign tourists alike, it still has that feeling of raw, unspoiled Africa, with lots of coconut palm trees and black-and-white Colobus monkeys in plain sight.
Swimming, snorkeling, and diving are favorite activities here. Keep your eyes open, as bottle-nose dolphins are usually spotted on the surface!
If you’re game for adrenaline-pumping activities, skydiving and kitesurfing are also available. A safari trip to Shimba Hills National Reserve is a must-do as well!
#2 Tofo (Mozambique)
If you’re looking for a small tourist town where you can spend endless hours relaxing at the beach and exploring the sea, Tofo is the place to go.
While the beach is about as gorgeous as it gets, the epic scuba diving at the deep water bay just off its shore is what draws most visitors here. You’ll find humpback whales, white sharks, mantas, dolphins, and all kinds of incredible fish swimming nearby.
Although laying back at a beautiful beach, eating scrumptious seafood at almost ridiculously low prices, and diving among great sea creatures seem more than enough to make Tofo worth your while, there are more activities on the menu for adventure seekers.
The waves are good for surfing, whether you’re experienced or want to try it out for the first time, or you can rent a quad bike to explore Tofo’s gorgeous sand dunes.
#3 Kendwa Beach (Tanzania)
Situated in the north part of Zanzibar, Kendwa Beach is one the most lively spots on the island and a gorgeous beach destination.
The sand is incredibly soft, the clear warm water features amazing shades of blue, and the sunsets are mind-boggling. Additionally, you’ll find some of the best dive sites on the island, as well as other water activities, to keep you entertained for days on end.
Kendwa Beach has many resorts, restaurants, and bars. The food and cocktails are great, and the African rhythms lively.
If you want to experience Tanzanian nightlife, this is a good place to do it, especially if you happen to be around for the famous full-moon party, with beach fire-watching, acrobat shows, and dancing to the rhythm of drums late into the night.
#4 Coffee Bay (South Africa)
Nestled in the mountainous region of the Indian Ocean coastline in Eastern Cape, Coffee Bay is considered one of the best surfing destinations in Africa and a great place for long hiking trails, horse riding, swimming, and sunbathing.
Aside from its splendid beauty and choppy waters, Coffee Bay has managed to preserve its rural feel and raw beauty despite its popularity. There are plenty of lodging options, delicious seafood, and several quirky bars where you can take in the fabulous vistas while you sip a cocktail or two.
#5 Skeleton Coast (Namibia)
Located in Namibia, this Atlantic Ocean beach is quite different in many ways and best appreciated if you’re into untamed nature and peculiar-looking spots.
The best way to describe Skeleton Beach, as its name suggests, is bleak and forbidding but equally spectacular. This is the place where many explorers met their death because of the persistent fog and the unpredictable Benguela ocean currents. Whale bones and ship parts can still be found on the sand, creating a scenery straight out of a painting.
The coast is the gateway to Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest national park in Africa, which is why many visitors are attracted to the wild, rugged beauty of Skeleton Beach. Desert-adapted lions, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, zebra, and seals can be seen roaming around, and you might see some very experienced surfers brave the waves.
#6 Malindi (Kenya)
Located 75 miles from Mombasa, Malindi is everything you expect from a dreamy beach town in Kenya.
Pristine sapphire-blue waters, Swahili-inspired architecture, tasty seafood, and a wonderful laid-back atmosphere are there for the taking. Although it is much smaller than Mombasa, Malindi is home to fantastic luxury resorts, hotels, and restaurants, boasting a lively nightlife with several fun bars and clubs to keep you entertained after the sun goes down.
As if the fantastic beach experience and bustling party scene weren’t enough to convince you to visit, Malindi offers additional adventure opportunities at Milda Creek, a fresh-water tidal stream surrounded by mangroves and lined with palm trees.
If you’re an adventurous soul, you can kayak, waterski, or stand-up paddle down the creek. If you don’t want to sweat it out, though, you can take a cruise tour at sunset, sipping sundowners or wine!
#7 Bazaruto Island (Mozambique)
Part of Bazaruto Archipelago Marine Park in the Indian Ocean, off the Mozambique coastline, Bazaruto Island harbors some of the most idyllic beaches in the entire world.
Its crystal-clear turquoise water and white sand beaches are dotted with many palm trees, while towering sand dunes backdrop the whole scene. The cherry on top of the cake is that Bazaruto beach is hugged by stunning coral reefs that harbor a vast array of marine life, which can be fully appreciated by snorkeling and diving.
On a side note, the coastal town of Vilanculos is the gateway to reach the Bazaruto Archipelago, which is worth visiting in its own right for a day or two. The town has a lot to offer, including wonderful markets, laid-back restaurants, and bars, as well as adventure options like kite surfing, horse riding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing.
#8 Anse Source d’Argent (Seychelles Islands, Madagascar)
Located off the east coast of Madagascar, the Seychelles Islands on the Indian Ocean are a popular high-end vacation destination. One of the islands on the archipelago, La Digue, harbors one of the most beautiful beaches in the continent: Anse Source d’Argent.
The waters that surround Anse Source d’Argent are a post-card perfect shade of turquoise, while the lush jungle seems to tumble onto the huge boulders that sit on the white-sand beach, seeming almost unreal.
The beach has good snorkeling offshore as well. Whether you are looking for relaxation, water adventures, or family time, this paradise destination will do it for you.
Be advised that this is the only beach on the island that charges a fee to enter ($9 dollars), but all visitors agree that it is worth every single penny.
#9 Hurghada (Egypt)
Laying placidly by the crystal-clear Red Sea, Hurghada has a whopping 25 miles of beach, where a vacation filled with sunshine, adventure, and relaxation is guaranteed.
Scuba diving and snorkeling are prime activities here, as marine life and corals are simply fantastic and easy to spot. If you’re not too big on going underwater, though, you have the option of taking a tour on a glass-bottomed boat, where you can watch and take a refreshing dip if you wish.
The close look at schools of fish, octopuses, and other sea creatures is very much worth the adventure!
When you’re able to pry yourself from the beach, head to the El Dahar market area in the older part of the city. You’ll be amazed at all the fruit, souvenirs, clothes, and other goodies you will find here. You’ll also see coffee shops, shisha bars, and great dining options.
As a bonus, the ancient city of Luxor is not far from Hurghada, so you might want to visit to throw in a bit of history and culture into your beach getaway in Africa.