What could be better than spending your day watching adorable African Black Footed penguins frolic around in the water and walk along the beach? Boulders Beach in South Africa offers you that experience. Located about an hour from Cape town, in the quaint town of Simon’s town, it is the perfect day trip! Boulders beach is made up of inlets surrounded by giant granite boulders which create protection from wind and large wave, making it perfect habitat for penguins.
Penguins first came to the area in 1982 from Dyer island, and there are now approximately 3,000 individuals that can be found there. However, this population is considered to be in trouble due to climate change, negative contact with humans (mainly vehicle related), lack of food, and competition over nesting locations, causing the birds to choose unsafe nesting spots. Thankfully a few organizations (SANCCOB, Dyer island conservation trust, and SANparks) have taken steps to create conservation initiatives which will help protect these birds. The Boulders Coastal park management has also been installing artificial nest boxes in the area to help give the birds a safer option. So you can feel good about visiting the area, as your money will be going towards helping these initiatives.
Boulders beach has an entry fee of R65, which is less than $10 for the day. The beach is made up of two areas, Foxy beach, the larger more popular area which provides the best viewing, and Boulders Beach, a smaller less crowded area. Foxy beach is reached by passing Boulders Beach and following a series of boardwalks, put in place to help keep people on the path, and give the penguins their space – don’t worry you will still get plenty close to these vocal penguins! This area does get very busy and it is highly recommended you come early to avoid the crowds. Boulders beach is much less hectic, as it doesn’t get nearly as many penguins as you will see from Foxy beach, however it is a great place to put down a towel, go for a swim, and enjoy sharing your space with penguins!! This area is part of Table Mountain National Park, meaning it is kept clean, and safe for the wildlife, please remember to clean up after yourselves and watch your belongings. It is illegal to touch or feed the penguins, so feel free to take your photos and selfies, but keep your hands off and remember to give them their space. We are in their home and do not want to make them feel uncomfortable!
Visiting during the feeding/breeding season is when you are more likely to see more penguins in the area. Peak time is between February and May. During this time you will see juvenile penguins, nesting penguins, as well as adults hunting for fish and wandering the beach. Don’t forget there is also a visitors centre located nearby where you can learn about the penguins and the conservation work being done, as well as a gift shop and café.