Visiting the quirky penguins at Boulders Beach, between Simon’s Town and Cape Point, is a unique experience.
The colony, which lives incongruously in the middle of a residential area, is one of the few sites where African penguins – previously called Jackass penguins because of their braying call – can be observed at close range, as they wander freely in a protected natural environment.
Boulders forms part of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) Marine Protected Area and an entrance fee is required to access the sandy shores. Strictly controlled access to this beach by the South African National Parks (SANparks) authority ensures it is always clean and tidy and the facilities are well maintained and spotless. These facilities include toilets and outdoor beach showers. The beach is a real hit with little ones as it offers a very gentle and warm ocean swimming experience. The immense boulders after which the beach is named shelter the cove from currents and large waves – but please always take care. Also, don’t touch or feed the penguins. They might look cute and cuddly but their beaks are razor sharp and if they feel threatened they have no qualms about nipping the odd finger or nose. They also feel nothing about traipsing through your picnic lunch and over your towels. Once through the turnstiles, stake your claim on the pristine sand – check the tides beforehand, this is a very narrow beach – and then freely explore the large 540 million year-old granite boulders, small rock pools and little bays in close proximity of the penguins. UP CLOSE To view the African penguins and their nesting and breeding sites, a superb walkway has been established at Foxy Beach, just a short stroll from the actual Boulders Beach.
This takes the visitor on an intimate tour of the area these birds call home. The boardwalks are all wheelchair-friendly and will take you within metres of the birds. There is also a visitors’ centre accessed on foot using “Willis Walk” from the Bellevue Road/Cape Point side, or via Kleintuin Road from the Seaforth Road/Simon’s Town side. The area is patrolled by park rangers to ensure visitors’ safety and that of the birds. Boulders Beach has plenty of food and accommodation offerings close to the gates (although nothing is on offer inside the reserve precinct).