Visiting The African Penguins At Boulders Beach

How To Get To Boulders Beach In Simon’s Town. 

Boulders Beach is located near the Naval town of Simon’s Town, a scenic 45 minute drive from the city of Cape Town. The easiest way to visit the penguins at Boulders Beach is to join a guided tour that includes a visit to the penguin colony. These day trips normally spend around 60 minutes at the penguin colony before heading off to the next destination. My suggestion is to try do a full day trip down the Cape Peninsula as you get to explore all the scenic beauty that this coast line has to offer. Below are two popular and easy options to visit Boulders Beach.

Renting a car and driving down through the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town is another option if you feel confident driving in South Africa. Plug Boulders Beach Simon’s Town into the G.P.S. and you should arrive at Seaforth car parking area in around 45 minutes to a hour. Parking is free of charge. The walk to the penguins is about 5 minutes from the car park and clearly marked. Do not leave valuables in your car.

Public Transport To Simon’s Town. Catching the train from Cape Town to Simon’s Town is NO LONGER POSSIBLE. The trains run as far as Fish Hoek and you would then need to catch a Uber from Fish Hoek to Boulders Beach. It is about a 20 minute drive from Fish Hoek to Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. To learn more about the closure of the railway tracks from Fish Hoek to Simon’s Town follow the link.

Boulders Beach Entrance Fee Until 31 October 2021.

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):R40 per adult per day
R20 per child, per day

SADC Nationals (with passport):R85 per adult per day
R42 per child, per day

Standard Conservation Fee (International Visitors):R170 per adult per day
R85 per child, per day

The African Penguins arrived at Boulders Beach in 1982 with just 2 breeding pairs and are still listed in the Red Data Book as an endangered species due to pollution, over fishing and habitat destruction. The colony at Boulders Beach now number at between 2000 to 3000 birds. The numbers have grown partly due to the reduction in pelagic trawling in False Bay and the increase in pilchards and anchovies that form an integral part of the African penguins diet.

African penguins face predation by sea gulls who eat their eggs, feral cats and mongoose who will attack them while on land. A variety of sharks and Cape Fur seals prey on the African penguins in the ocean.

The penguins make a distinctive braying donkey like call and were previously called Jackass Penguins. Several other species in South America make a very similar call and the local species have been renamed the African penguin as its the only species that breeds on the African continent.

Best Time To Visit The Penguins At Boulders Beach.

The penguins are at boulders beach throughout the year and do not migrate so it’s possible to visit the colony throughout the year. The summer months are best if you want good weather and sunshine. January is mating season and the penguins begin nesting from February through to about August. The incubation period lasts 4o days.

The quietest times to visit boulders beach is normally early in the morning or later in the day. The light is also better for photography and the penguins tend to be more active in the mornings and late afternoon. Early mornings see the birds leaving the beach to catch fish and returning to the shore in the late afternoon. Boulders Beach attracts a large number of visitors throughout the year and is normally busiest between 10.00 and 15.00. 

The most popular spot to view the penguins is at Foxy Beach were a boardwalk takes visitors to view the penguins who nest in the indigenous vegetation above the high water mark. You cannot walk onto the beach or swim with the penguins at foxy beach. SanParks has a very interesting visitors centre as you enter Foxy Beach where you can learn more about the penguins. 

Swimming With Penguins

Leaving the popular Foxy Beach walk further around to Boulders Beach. This is the only beach in the world were you can swim with the penguins in a totally natural environment. Do not loose your receipt from Foxy beach as it will allow you access to Boulders beach. The beach is normally not that busy and you can spend hours relaxing on the beach and swimming with the penguins. Don’t get to close penguins as they do bite and these bites are painful. 

Want A Free Map and Guide To The Penguins At Boulders Beach? Click For Free Map.

Code Of Behaviour At The Penguins.

  • Stay away from nesting areas
  • Report injured birds to staff
  • Respect the quiet nature of the area
  • Keep your receipt
  • Don’t harass the penguins
  • Don’t use selfie sticks near the penguins
  • Don’t remove any marine life, sand or shells
  • Don’t touch the birds, they bite
  • Boulders Bay is a penguin sanctuary and under Navy regulations. Kayaks, boats or other vessels are not permitted to approach the beach. Please note there are no lifeguards on duty at this beach.

Where was My Octopus Teacher Filmed?

My Octopus Teacher, the 2021 Oscar winner for best documentary film by independent filmmaker Craig Foster was filmed in the kelp forests just off Boulders beach, Simon’s Town. The film explores the relationship that develops between the filmmaker, Craig Foster and an octopus that he discovers in the kelp forests off the coast. Watch the official trailer for My Octopus Teacher here.

It is possible to do diving trips in the area were My Octopus Teacher was filmed and to do kayak tours of the Boulders beach penguin colony that also includes paddling through the kelp beds were My Octopus Teacher was filmed. On the early morning kayak trip you often see the penguins leaving the beach and heading out into False Bay to go fishing for the day. These activities are both weather dependent. Please contact me for more information regarding diving or kayaking trips.

What else can you do at Boulders beach?

There are two other great beaches that are safe to swim at and suitable for the whole family. Seaforth beach is a very popular beach for families to visit especially during the summer months when the sea temperatures are a bit warmer. Seaforth beach also has a few penguins nesting to the left hand side of the beach. The area is roped off to stop people from disturbing the birds.

Seaforth beach is also home to the Seaforth restaurant. This restaurant offers some epic views over looking the beach and the false bay coast line. The menu offers something for everyone, especially fresh fish and very importantly, ice cold bear after that walk to the penguins. It is a very popular, well priced venue and I would advise booking in advance to avoid disappointment. To learn more about Seaforth restaurant and check out the menu, click the link.

Want to visit a quiet semi secret beach? 

The locals that live in the area mostly like to swim and relax at Waters Edge Beach. As you arrive at Seaforth car parking area, walk as if you are going to visit the penguins. Keep your eyes peeled left as you walk, you will see a wooden fence with what looks like a garden gate. Open the gate and walk down the path and you will arrive at Waters Edge Beach. This beach is normally quieter than all the other beaches and is safe to swim at too. Note that there are no life guards on duty at any of the beaches mentioned in this article.

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