6 best beach campsites in SA

Posted on 14 May 2021

From bucket-and-spade seaside spots to rugged and remote coastal coves, we’ve got your summer weekends covered.

 

1. Honne-Kamp

Hondeklipbaai, Northern Cape

There’s a reef or beach-break option for surfers off the main Hondeklip beach.

Hondeklipbaai (Dog-Stone Bay) was named after a rocky outcrop that apparently resembles a dog – but probably only after a solid session of Klippies and Coke. Be that as it may, this West Coast hamlet brims with characters and attractions, and has, over time, achieved legendary status as one of the Northern Cape’s premier seaside holiday destinations. A rather topsy-turvy history has seen the town go through a number of booms and subsequent collapses – copper, crayfish and diamonds – before settling on tourism.

At first glance, Hondeklipbaai appears a bit haphazard, the beauty of its 14-kilometre beach not immediately tangible. The West Coast has a rough edge to it, so don’t come here expecting anything fancy. But there is a cappuccino machine at The Shack (the barista may be out on a crayfish mission)! Although the campsite is set back a street from the beach, it will take you less than a minute to get there. The water’s icy and tempestuous tides often dump seaweed on the sand, but the dunes and rock pools below the lighthouse are great for exploring.

Get the necessary permit, don your (very thick!) wetsuit and dive into the icy Atlantic for a crayfish or two (in season, of course). Or, if surfing’s your thing, a reef in the bay often throws up a solid right-hand break. To the south, Spitfire Rock spews up dramatic spray when waves thunder against the rocky shores, and it’s a great sundowner spot. – Jacques Marais

Do It Honne-Kamp has six sites, each with electricity, water, a picnic table, and braai facilities. The shared ablutions are clean and neat, and there’s an on-site swimming pool and playground. Sam’s Restaurant is a stumble away, as are a few small shops and a bottle store. From R400 for a four-person stand. 083 321 1600, honnepondokkies.co.za

 

2. Kwass se Baai

Namaqua Maqua National Park, Northern Cape

Wild camp spots near the town are relatively peaceful, but out of season, the municipal campsite is largely deserted anyway. The sea, for diving, swimming and surfing, is less than 20 metres away from the ‘resort’.

Frost-fisted waves of Atlantic rollers pound a sun-drenched shoreline of strandveld that for most of the year looks a bit bedraggled, but bursts into colour during spring flower season. Hundreds of Cape fur seals weave through the rich kelp forests and come ashore to warm up on the rocks.

This virgin shore in the Namaqua National Park runs for around 50 kilometres and the four individual sites at Kwass se Baai have the best setting – on an elevated ridge overlooking a crescent beach, with great views of the sunset over the ocean. Simple stone walls provide protection from the prevailing southerly wind and a long-drop toilet is the only amenity. For old and young alike there is blissfully little to do here other than explore the veld and coastline (only on the designated tracks), skinny-dip in the icy ocean and warm up afterwards in the blazing sun or around the fire with a cup of steaming tea. – Scott Ramsay 

Do It  There are nine campsites on this stretch of protected coast spread out across 40 kilometres. From south to north they are: Groen Rivier (12 sites), Delwerskamp (seven), Kwass se Baai (four), Varswater (four), Bamboeskamp (four), Skuinsklip (two), Koringkorrel Baai (five), Skuinsbaai Noord (two), and Boulderbaai (six). Bring all your camping equipment, drinking water, food, and other supplies.

Tip Good for vygies in the Cape flower season. A 4×4 with diff lock and high ground clearance is a must, as there are stretches of thick sand. There’s a seal colony of several thousand animals between Skuinsbaai and Boulderbaai (17 kilometres north of Kwass se Baai). 027 672 1948, sanparks.org

 

3. Strandfontein Holiday Resort

West Coast

The camping-only resort forms part of the Kogel Bay Biosphere Reserve and there are three nature walks just over the road.

 

There’s only one problem with the Namaqua West Coast region – too much wine and way too little time to drink the stuff. Add to this the fact that Namaqua residents do not seem to have an off-switch, and you have either paradise or purgatory.

Strandfontein is a case in point. It’s a languid dorp for most of the year, but come summer it’s packed with sunseekers looking for a good time. Strandfontein Holiday Resort is the hub of this bakkie-and-beach party, with two sections of campsite grass unfolding right onto the main beach. Fortunately, out of season there’s usually not a soul in sight – cue me and my surfboard. And, yes, there’s wine. Just down the drag in Doringbaai, you’ll discover Fryer’s Cove Winery in a unique setting right on the old harbour pier.

If you can pry yourself away from the seafood and chenin blanc, explore the dramatic coastline between here and Strandfontein. For more remote camping, there are plenty of spots along the West Coast where you can ‘wild-camp’ right on the ocean’s edge, with only the swish of Atlantic rollers for company, and regular whale sightings and spring flowers from late July through September. Winters can get rather chilly, with fog and the occasional winter storm – but nothing a camp fire and bottle of local red can’t solve. – Jacques Marais

Do It The Strandfontein Holiday Resort (read caravan park) is laid out in four sections, but I would recommend either A Block or Perdeskoen Block. All sites have electricity and water: A Block’s 29 sea-front stands, sharing communal ablutions, cost R325 per stand. The 25 A Block sites against the back wall have private ablutions at R335 per stand. Each stand is limited to one vehicle and a maximum of six people. 027201 3437/3401, visitnwc.com

 

4. Victoria Bay Caravan Park

George, Garden Route

The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train used to run through Vic Bay, hence the name of one of the camp terraces. In the waves, look out for SA’s top female surfer, Bianca Buitendag, who calls this tiny cove home.

In the shaggy green cliffs overlooking Victoria Bay, three separate camping areas cut long, neat strips into the bluff. These three grassed terraces – Western, Railway and Sea Breeze – sit above the bay’s charming tidal pool and sandy beach, which from Western and Railway terraces can be reached via a few steep stairs. Both have excellent sea views, but Sea Breeze is situated above the busy car park.

During school holidays and especially over Christmas, the bay fills with day-trippers and the beach gets crowded. Out of season, however, it’s sleepy and serene, popular for surfing and angling and an excellent place to chill out and spot whales (from May to October). Railway Terrace has expansive views over the beach, but Western Terrace is the more popular, with stands lying side-by-side along the cliff face, offering a 180-degree panorama that’s especially spectacular at sunrise.   

Although the bay feels isolated, both George and Wilderness are just 10 minutes away by car, with the full range of Garden Route activities available nearby including paragliding, nature trails and canoeing along the Touws and Serpentine rivers. George’s Garden Route Mall has camping supplies plus anything else you may need. And if you don’t feel like cooking, there’s Vikki’s at the Beach, which has casual, outside seating below the Western Terrace, and serves sandwiches, pizzas, seafood platters, and beer. – Chris Davies 

Do It  There are 38 stands in total, 20 on Western, 10 on Railway and eight on Sea Breeze. All those on Western Terrace have private ablutions and washing-up areas, but for stands 30 to 36 they’re a short walk from the sites themselves. Railway and Sea Breeze have neat communal ablutions and sinks, and all 38 have electricity. From R355 a stand at Railway and Sea Breeze, and from R450 at Western Terrace – maximum six per site. No dogs allowed. 044 889 0081, victoriabaycaravanpark.co.za

 

5. Buffalo Bay caravan park 

Knysna, Garden Route

Park the car and hide your keys because everything you need for a family holiday is within walking or cycling distance from your tent.

Buffalo Bay Caravan Park takes the estate-agent maxim of location, location, location to the extreme, with 180-degree sea and beach views from each of the 85 grassed and level sites.

In fact, buffeted by a vicious westerly gale on our first-ever visit, we fell victim to our sea-front perch, two-odd metres above the rock pools. When the squalls cleared the next day, we had to retrieve our kettle, tent pegs and a toddler’s plastic bike from the water. It was a horrible night for tent living, but the view was menacingly spectacular, with writhing swells filling the bay and plumes of spray being whipped backwards like mermaid’s hair.

In kinder weather, the views from Buffels campsite (as it’s colloquially known) are often of surfers sharing the waves with schools of dolphins. A white crescent beach runs for miles from outside the park gate to Brenton on Sea near Knysna. It’s great for walking and at low tide, cycling, too. The water’s warm, the beach (lifeguard-patrolled in season) is good for swimming and surfing, as is the rocky point fronting the park (although there have been some shark incidents in recent years). Safe snorkelling in the rock pools turns up marine life far more interesting than a blackened kettle, and rock and sea angling is a biggie – there’s a slipway adjacent to the park to launch skiboats.  

Unfortunately, the nearby Goukamma Nature Reserve is still closed for hiking and canoeing following the Knysna fires. But for horse-riding and canoe hire, go to River Deck Restaurant, overlooking the Goukamma. – Catherine Hofmeyr

Do It All sites have 10-amp electric points and water points close by; ablutions are clean and modern with sculleries and a laundry facility. There’s a supermarket and restaurant within walking distance. Knysna is the closest town (20 kilometres). Rates are from R320 a site for two (R100 for extras) up to R975 in peak season, with extras paying R100. Pensioners pay R250 a site out of season or a monthly rate of R190 a day. 0443830045, buffalobay.co.za

 

6. White Clay

Coffee Bay, Eastern Cape

White Clay is well situated between the Wild Coast hot-spots of Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall, an eight-kilometre hike away.

White Clay is a small, wildly beautiful campsite in the heart of the Wild Coast. It consists of three tiers of level stands on a grassy bank overlooking the sea, with ablutions just a few strides away. All sites have an unimpeded view of the ocean and surrounding cliff-tops – wake up to sunrise over the sea. It’s a short walk down to the beach which is good for fishing and swimming.

This is an ideal spot for active families who enjoy hiking and exploring. We spent our days wandering along the top of the sea cliffs dotted with grazing goats, rondavels and spectacular aloes. For the more adventurous, guided hikes to Port St John’s are also available, and horse-riding and quad-biking can be arranged. The celebrated Hole in the Wall and Coffee Bay are both a short drive away. During the winter months, you just may spot migrating whales and pods of dolphins from the camp.

When you need a break from the braai, there’s a seafood restaurant on site as well as a quaint bar and a curio shop that sells charcoal and wood. – Sarah Changuion 

Do It 083v262n5239, whiteclayresort.co.za   

 

 

 






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