5 Reasons to Visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach

5 Reasons to Visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach

A colony of African Penguins lives on Boulders Beach in False Bay outside of Simon’s Town, South Africa. If this attraction is not on your South African bucket list, it should be.

Arriving at Boulders Beach, you have the feeling you are in a residential area. In fact, some houses overlook the beach. How wonderful would that be? To see penguins out your window every day. Sign me up!

African Penguins

The African penguins received their name because they are the only penguin on the continent. Penguin World describes the African penguin as medium-sized. The birds range in height from 63.5 to 68.6 cm (25 to 27 inches) while weighing between 2.3 to 4.1 kg  (5 to 9 pounds). They have a black stripe that starts at their beak then follows over their head, back and flippers. Each are identical but unique in their own way.

Welcome to Boulders Beach, South Africa

Penguin Invasion

A small number of South African penguins emigrated from Dyer Island, near Gansbaai, to Boulders Beach circa 1982. They settled on the white granular beach between the enormous ancient granite boulders that provided them with shelter from the wind and waves. Today, thanks to conservation efforts, while still endangered, the colony has grown close to three thousand birds.

5 Reasons to visit Boulders Beach:

Reason #1 So close

Boulders Beach is one of the few places worldwide where you can get up close and personal with penguins. The first thing to remember is that they are wild animals with razor sharp beaks.

The penguins are happy to do their thing as long as the humans stay on the boardwalk.

Sneaky Penguin trying to hide

Reason #2 The Boardwalk

A boardwalk allows visitors to walk through the penguin’s habitat without disturbing the birds. The boardwalk starts at the visitors information center and ends at the beach. The beach area is where most visitors congregate because of the number of birds at that point. The view is beautiful and the penguins are fun to watch.

As written on the Cape Town Travel website, 60,000 visitors a year visit Boulders Beach to photograph and observe the famous penguins. My daughter and I followed this trio of birds up and down the boardwalk.

Trio of penguins
Penguin trio on the march

Reason #3 Conservation

The endangered penguins have increased in number because of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protection Act. They keep the beaches clean and limit the number of visitors. You can read more about their conservation efforts here.

There is a small conservation fee to visit. The money generated from tourism goes back into conservation.

African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary
The African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary near Gansbaai,  provides temporary sanctuary for African Penguins and other marine birds that need life-saving intervention.

When we visited they had several injured penguins, they were hoping to rehabilitate and return to the wildlife. You can learn more about their conservation efforts here.

Boulders Beach Park Sign

Reason #4 Jackass Penguins

According to Cape Town Travel, the penguins got the nickname ‘jackass penguins’ because of the sound they make, like a bray. When we visited, we could hear the squawking or braying long before we got down to the main beach area.

Penguin gather on Boulders Beach, South Africa
Penguins leave the water at Boulders Beach, South Africa

Reason #5 Cuteness Factor

Who doesn’t like a penguin? They waddle, they can’t fly, and they are absolutely adorable. I didn’t want to leave. I could have stayed there all day.

Final Thoughts

South Africa’s new commitment to conservation is wonderful. Allowing humans to experience animals in their natural habit is the way the viewing of animals should be. Next time you are near Cape Town, South Africa drop in and see the penguins, they always put on a show.

Is Boulders Beach on your bucket list? Write me a note in the comments and let me know.

Until next time


All photographs copyright Frankie Cameron Writes.