As soon as I knew I was heading to South Africa to be a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding (well, one the sheer excitement of being involved died down), my mind immediately went to the one thing I knew I wanted to do while away – see the penguins on Boulder’s Beach. I have vague childhood memories of Blue Peter and the Really Wild Show breaking the news to my young mind that penguins don’t just live in cold places – look here’s some on a beach! Safe to say, my inner child came out to play when I finally got to scamper along the shoreline with these tiny tuxedo’d creatures.
For something that to me was so iconic, seeing the penguins at Boulder’s Beach is actually really easy to do. The coastal town is easy to reach, 40 minutes south of Cape Town and not too distinguished from its neighbours. The beach, its main attraction, is set up like any of South Africa’s other national parks and attractions. There is a little entrance with ticket booth, the cost is minimal, and when we went on a Monday morning, there were few other tourists. You can walk along a wooden pathway above the beach if you don’t want to pay, but going to the beach is worth it. There are several enclaves and access may depend on some climbing or crawl by the namesake boulders, so older or disabled guests may be limited in their exploring. The penguins will hang out in little groups, with some in the water, some chilling by rocks and others resting in the shrubbery on the shore. You’ll also see Dassies bouncing around, the fluffy African rodent who loves rocky landscapes.
The penguins are mesmerising and mostly oblivious to guests, but of course, you should not touch or directly interact with them – they ARE wild animals. Try to visit on a weekday and early to avoid the tour buses, and you’ll enjoy hours of entertainment watching these birds frolic on the beach without a care in the world.