These 11 beautiful beach cottages and houses are perfect for chilling with – and are all less than 90 minutes from the nearest airport.
1. Shack on Supers
Jeffrey’s Bay, Eastern Cape
Travel time: 58mins from Port Elizabeth Airport
Jeffreys Bay is all flip-flops and surf culture. When I arrived, the Shack had been booked for three months by a remote-working couple. Lucky them – three months of lying in bed with the windows open to the rush of surf and a glorious view; of stepping off the veranda and onto the short, aloe-lined path through the dunes to Supertubes beach below… I could think of nothing better. This double-level, ramshackle, timber house is a mix between ship’s cabin and treehouse, with a cosy wooden interior and two verandas that peer over the milkwoods to the sea. There is only one bedroom, en suite, with a single bed off the side of it and another off the lounge (best for kids). I stayed in the smaller Stone Cottage next door, which shares beach access. I fell asleep to moonlight pouring through the large, triangular windows of my bedroom – very romantic! Reviewed by Teagan Cunniffe.
Do it: Shack from R1500 (sleeps four), cottage from R800 (sleeps two). 0828764340, stayinjbay.co.za/shack-on-supers
2. The Shepherds Hut
Kommetjie, Western Cape
Travel time: 1hr 15mins from Cape Town International Airport
In a quiet lane in Kommetjie there’s the cutest hideaway I’ve stayed at in a long time. It’s a traditional English shepherd’s hut. They’re dinky little ‘caravans’, around since the 1800s, and used by shepherds to overnight when they moved their flock from pasture to pasture (google ‘shepherd’s hut’ to see some amazing examples). Mary Duncan, a writer and editor and all-round creative, decided to make one herself, and did so with the help of her brother and her friends. It’s made from wood and corrugated iron (delightful when it rains), and is remarkably well insulated. It’s so tiny that it just fits a queen-size bed (basically built into the one side), but the space is an inspiration for compact living. It’s all white inside and beautifully fitted out, with a hot plate, kettle and anything else you might need (there’s even Wi-Fi). The toilet/shower is two steps away in another small hut, and is open to the elements, looking out into a stand of 200-year-old white milkwood trees. (The stand is protected, which deserves a special mention as there aren’t many left.) Tucked into Mary’s bird-filled garden, her house is close by but the hut’s positioned in such a way as to offer privacy. I loved the semi-outdoor shower and the cocoon-like aspect of this space, both inside the caravan and under the trees. We stayed in winter and it was perfectly warm. And the beach? It’s about a minute’s walk away – just down a path, about 100 steps, and the bay opens up like a motion picture in front of you. Reviewed by Sonya Schoeman.
Do it: R850 (sleeps two). 0730944804, airbnb.com/rooms/15870423
3. Cocotree Beach House
Ezembeni, South Coast, Kwazulu-Natal
Travel time: 1hr from King Shaka International Airport
When jeweller Tommy Dannhauser began renovating this original beach cottage, he first completed the outside entertainment area. It’s made for a gathering of friends and good wine: a glittering pool, seating area, replace and boma take full advantage of the view over Greenpoint beach. This section is one of the best surf spots on the coast, according to local surfers. The large, light-filled main bedroom opens up to the sea view and is completed by an expansive shower area and small side courtyard. The other bedrooms are smaller but perfectly functional with tasteful decor (natural materials, plants and modern furnishings) throughout the house. It’s relaxed and dog-friendly, too. You’ll be inclined to kick off your shoes, light the braai and settle in for the sunset. Reviewed by Teagan Cunniffe.
Do it: From R4000 (sleeps 10). 0826127474, airbnb.com/rooms/16197586
4. The Barnacle
Pringle Bay, Western Cape
Travel time: 1hr 8mins from Cape Town International Airport
You won’t get a better beach view in Pringle Bay than at this little treasure. Set on the banks of the Buffels River, The Barnacle makes the most of two raised decks and upstairs living to elevate guests above the gorgeous (but dense) fynbos belt that lines the beach. The cottage has three independent units – Otter’s Lair, Mongoose, and Milkwood – that sleep from two to four each and can be taken separately or together. Otter’s Lair was my favourite. It has a large open-plan upstairs kitchen, dining area, lounge and private deck with a braai that’s just begging to be the scene of a grand get-together. Decor throughout is beach chic, with clean whites, classic ocean blues and wood finishings. The units share a garden and there is direct access to the beach, and kayaks for guests who want to paddle on the river. It’s also prime otter- spotting territory. I spied one ducking behind a rock while enjoying my morning coffee as the sun crept over the Kogelberg behind me. Reviewed by Tyson Jopson.
Do it: Mongoose is from R1200 for two adults and R250 per child (sleeps four). Milkwood is R490 per person sharing (sleeps two). Otter’s Lair, the one to bag if you want a private upstairs area, is R1500 (sleeps two). 0845249706, thebarnaclepringlebay.com
5. Lavender Beach
Vermont, Western Cape
Travel time: 1hr 18mins from Cape Town International Airport
Between the seaside villages of Onrus and Vermont, just outside Hermanus, is a tranquil four-kilometre coastal pathway known as the Vermont Trail. And roughly in its middle, directly opposite the rocks, you’ll find Lavender Beach, a quaint face among modern neighbours. The main cottage offers two double rooms and kids will quickly turn the dorm-style accommodation on the top floor into one long sleepover. On the same level is an alcove with wicker chairs overlooking the sea – a reading spot, or card-games area. Behind the house is a sheltered place to braai, and a one-roomed flat for overflow guests. (It’s private, and has views down the driveway to the sea.) Vermont is peaceful; bordering on a number of green belts, it’s rich in endemic fynbos and bird life. Walking on the trail, you’ll pass milkwoods, tidal pools and quiet beaches, and might spot a few whales along the way. Reviewed by Teagan Cunniffe.
6. Little White Beach Cottage
Travel time: 25mins from King Shaka International Airport
‘Our name says it all,’ laughs Aleksandra Durrheim, enigmatic owner and decorator. ‘I wanted everything to be perfect but “white” has taught me that that can’t always be so!’ Yet the cottage lives up to its moniker: white decor and light spaces prevail. Set 200 metres from Willard Beach, it’s gorgeous. The wooden veranda looks out at the sea and vervet monkeys play in the palms above. You can while away your days here, hammock swaying in the shade. The house itself is old, at least from the 1950s, says Aleks. Originally it had low-slung ceilings. These were raised, flooring painstakingly done by hand, sofas wheeled in and magazine-cutout pictures hung in frames on the walls. Soft children’s toys and splashes of pink give a whimsical touch. There’s a strong sense of love and peace here. Reviewed by Teagan Cunniffe.
Do it: From R1650 (sleeps four). 0834409505, littlewhitebeachcottage.co.za
Also read: 10 of our favourite Dolphin Coast stays
Cape St Francis, Eastern Cape
Travel time: 1hr 23mins from Port Elizabeth Airport
Thick fog settled in as I drove towards the Du Toits’ family home, just five kilometres from the Cape St Francis lighthouse on largely undeveloped coastline. Forefather Hermanus ‘Manie’ du Toit erected a small shack here in 1874 and, in a trade that has since become family legend, exchanged the land from there up to the lighthouse for an ox wagon. Manie later regained the sea shack, which can also be rented. The modern addition, Mostertshoek, is 30 metres away. It has the comfortable atmosphere of a house filled with holiday memories, and family photographs adorn the walls. The Du Toit children have grown up on these rocks, catching fish and jumping into the deep coves revealed by low tide. The four-bedroomed, double-storey house is spacious with high ceilings. The main bedroom, kitchen and dining area (with fireplace) all have ocean views, and in good weather the outdoor braai, which overlooks the calm, blue bay a few metres away, sizzles with freshly caught shad. Reviewed by Teagan Cunniffe.
Do it: From R3565 (sleeps 10), airbnb.co.uk/rooms/535891
8. Sea Cotttage
Sheffield Beach, North Coast, Kwazulu-Natal
Travel time: 24mins from King Shaka International Airport
If you are looking for a cottage right on the beach, then this one is pretty much it. Well, actually, there are two of them, literally 10 metres from the sea. Sheffield Beach is quiet, frequented mainly by fishermen and couples with dogs. The two cottages overlook the beach and, sitting on the veranda, it’s easy to immerse yourself in the ever-changing sea or keep an eye on the kids. The bottom unit is closer to the sea and the immediate choice, but the higher unit is just as enjoyable. The cottages are open-plan with simple, good-quality furniture made for coastal conditions. There’s a kitchenette, dining table, lounge and a TV for rainy days. The lounge sliding doors pull back completely, creating a seamless transition between the cottage and the view. Dogs are welcome (small ones, that is) and a fence keeps them from gallivanting off to the beach. Reviewed by Teagan Cunniffe.
Do it: From R1300 per couple, R500 per additional person (both cottages sleep five). 0832970590, sea-cottage.co.za
9. Dune Rose
Yzerfontein, Western Cape
Travel time: 1hr 15mins from Cape Town International Airport
Yzerfontein on the West Coast is a town torn between the aesthetics of face-brick duplexes and blinding white clapboard cottages, but happily Dune Rose is neither. It’s a dusky stone colour, and is perched right on the dunes – so close to the sea you could skip stones from the veranda at high tide. The upstairs master bedroom is the one to arm-wrestle for – it’s massive, has its own gas fireplace and balcony with wraparound views – but you’ll probably be spending most of your time in the lovely open-plan living area. It’s light and luxurious, with gleaming wooden floors and a fireplace, and spills out of two sliding doors onto a wide wooden stoep and outside braai area. It’s a big space – airy even with its maximum of eight people – but it feels lived in and welcoming. There’s a fair bit of construction going on in the immediate surrounds, though, so stays during the week might be less than idyllic. Reviewed by Kati Auld.
Do it: From R5500 for eight people. 0837385976, dunerose.co.za
10. Olifantsbos Cottage
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Travel time: 1hr 29 mins from Cape Town International Airport
This is an experience to truly treasure: eland walking along the beach at sunset; a wild, empty shore in front of you; pristine fynbos at your back – and only you and your company to enjoy it. Well, that’s not entirely true. You share the space with a troupe of baboons, who live in the craggy cliffs behind the house. Situated deep in the north-western part of the reserve and right on an isolated beach, gas and solar-powered Olifantsbos is accessed via a private road and is perfectly secluded. The main house sleeps six, with an additional six in the annex. Both units are neat and well kept, with white linen throughout. Olifantsbos has an indoor fireplace, a large undercover braai on the generous patio (which opens onto a wooden walkway leading directly to the beach), and to the side there’s a screened lapa surrounded by thick vegetation. It’s ideal for a special occasion with friends and family.
Do it: From R3885 for four people; R580 per additional adult and R290 per child (sleeps 12). Conservation/entry fees excluded. 0124289111, sanparks.org
11. Blue Waters
Simon’s Town, Western Cape
Travel time: 1hr 7mins from Cape Town International Airport
Set on an incline overlooking the road to Cape Point, this glorious house has an uninterrupted view of False Bay. And immediately at its feet, one of the coastline’s best treasures: a marine reserve with its jumble of magnificent boulders on which many seabirds roost. It’s also a fabulous spot to snorkel – here I saw sand sharks, octopuses and a host of fish it was fun to try identify. Blue Waters is owned by the family of architect Michele Sandilands. Dating back to the 1920s, it’s been wonderfully renovated to create a space that allows communal gathering – mainly in the well-equipped kitchen, which has concertina doors that open up onto the stoep – as well as privacy, in the rooms and little nooks here and there for reading or dreaming. My favourite place was the wooden deck out back (at the time I stayed the garden still needed to be completed), furnished with cushions and carpets. It’s set higher up on the slope so it overlooks the roof of the house and out over the glittering bay. Inside, the house is beautifully put together without feeling stuck-up. I especially loved the art, which was hung on picture rails rather than on the walls – in particular two paintings, gorgeous dreamy underwater depictions by Cha Davenport, as well as an original watercolour by Robert Burridge and prints by Bowen Boshier. All of the three rooms are lovely but my favourite is the one tucked upstairs. The one off the kitchen is best for those who go to bed last; it has an en-suite with an outdoor shower (one of three). Reviewed by Sonya Schoeman.
Do it: From R2900 (sleeps six, plus two extra mattresses for kids if needed), perfecthideaways.co.za
Also read: 7 tips for novice sea swimmers
This awesome list of beautiful beach cottages first appeared in the September Getaway issue.
Our September issue features 11 amazing beach cottages, two ways to see the Klein Karoo, a windswept 4X4 drive in Namibia, our guide to swimming in Greece and much more!