Mar 17, 2020
Are you looking to get your heart all warm and fuzzy? Look no further than visiting Boulders beach where you will get the opportunity to be in touching distance with the African Penguins. Yes, I said penguins! Cuteness overload much. I wouldn’t have thought in a million years I would get this close and personal to penguins in the wild, so when I heard about it, I had to go see it for myself. I had my dear friend drive me there as soon as we could.
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
Location, Cost and Operational Hours
About 55 minutes from Cape Town, located in the Cape Peninsula near Simon’s Town is Boulder’s Beach, one of my favourite attractions and a must see when visiting Cape Town. Boulders Beach falls under the Table Mountain National Park Marine protected area, therefore there is a minimal entrance fee that goes to the maintenance and upkeep of the area. But hey, what is R 70 ($5) for this amazing experience? Nothing!
When you arrive at the payment desk you will see a very clear notice that says no selfie sticks, camera tripods or any other extension allowed. This is because visitors have been known to agitate the penguins by getting their cameras to close or even going as far as poking them to get their attention. Of course one of us had to go back to the car to put away all the extensions that we had for a day of memorable photography, including a selfie stick.
The opening and closing times for Boulders Beach are different throughout the year. Make sure you are mindful of this to avoid the disappointment of being kicked out during closing time when you were expecting to spend the whole day there into the evening. The times are as follows:
Dec-Jan is 7:00 am – 7:30 pm
Feb-Mar is 8:00 am – 6:30 pm
Apr-Sep is 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Oct-Nov is 8:00 am- 6:30 pm.
Check out the South African National Parks website for more information.
A few minutes of walking in you will get to see these endearing flightless birds waddling around minding their own business and getting about their day. Because they are so used to being in close proximity with humans, they did not seem all that threatened by us.
The beach is beautiful, boasting white sand and gigantic boulders that have been embedded there for centuries. Due to these granite boulders, the beach is sheltered from the wind and waves making it a great beach for the family. We all know how the Western Cape can get sometimes with crazy winds, so this is an added advantage. My first step on the beach had my flip flops sinking into the soft sand, making it ideal to walk barefoot.
Don’t expect to see many penguins from the entrance. There might be an occasional one or two roaming around, soaking up the sun on a boulder or leisurely swimming around showing off its aquatic skills. The beach is not too busy during the winter season but if you are looking to get away from the crowd, there are a couple of secluded parts to the beach that have even more penguins in the area. It is a little physically demanding to get there so make sure you are fit enough to crawl under and climb over boulders. Take extra care as some boulders may be a little bit slippery.
Beautiful Granite Boulders
Boulders Beach is breathtaking, with crystal clear waters and white coloured sand. The boulders are massive and majestic up close compared to what you see when you are driving there. The weather was on our side considering it was winter. The sun was out to play and the breeze was pleasantly warm. A couple of feet in after climbing and crawling over boulders, there they were, the African penguin right in front of me in the flesh. At this point I can’t even contain my level of excitement.
The African Penguin
The African penguin colony is said to have settled here in 1982. Also known as the ‘Jackass Penguin’, it gets its name from the sound they make similar to a donkey’s bray. It will startle you a bit when you least expect it. I lost my marbles when I heard that sound coming out unexpectedly from one of the nearby brushes.
If you are going to spend some time photographing the penguins, safely put your shoes and towels far from the shoreline, I almost lost one of my flip flops to the ocean when the tide came and swirled it in. Could not imagine making the trip back home with only one shoe.
This side of the beach does not have many penguins. If you want to view the rest of the colony, the best place is on Foxy Beach.
Getting to Foxy Beach from Boulders Beach
From Boulders Beach, there is a fenced boardwalk known as ‘Willis Walk’, with dense vegetation that leads to the viewing point on Foxy Beach where the rest of the colony spends their time. The fence is there for a reason and there are warning signs everywhere. Please do not stick your fingers between the fence, especially children, or you will get nipped. Penguins can get a little aggressive when agitated.
Alternatively you can access the viewing point from the information center on Kleintuin Road which will lead you straight there. Taking the boardwalk is a better option as you will have the pleasure of seeing parent penguins nursing their chicks on the breeding grounds and beauteous views of the mountains, boulders and the ocean. If you are lucky enough you will spot Rock Hyraxes, also known as Dassies to the locals, roaming around freely.
Be there early to take more unobstructed pictures
Be sure to get there as early as possible because it gets a bit too crowded in the afternoon with tour groups. I would have loved to get more unobstructed shots with myself in them but it was just too crowded. We got there late afternoon.
Where to get your ticket
Visitors can purchase their tickets from any of the 2 entrances which give you access to both Boulder’s Beach and the viewing point on Foxy Beach. Unlike Boulders Beach, Foxy Beach is not open to the public and you cannot get as close to the penguins because there are barriers around it.
We spent a little over an hour just gazing at these beautiful birds interact with each other and trying to get as many pictures as we could. We were there long enough to catch the sunset that had such a beautiful twilight.
Foxy Beach Viewing Point
A few things you can do in the area:
You can do what we all really come here for; observe the penguins from the viewing point on Foxy Beach
You can have a picnic on Boulders Beach. Remember that Foxy Beach is not open to the public.
Swim with the penguins on Boulders Beach. Do not get to close.
You can also go paddle boarding on the calm waters.
Enjoy a meal at one of the local restaurant
Things to remember while there:
As cute as they are, penguins are still wild animals, do not touch them
Do not feed the penguins
Give the penguins space to roam freely so don’t get too close
Leave selfie sticks and other camera extensions in the car. People have been known to poke or get them too close to the penguins for a photo opportunity which may aggravate them.
Adhere to all the rules, warning and cautionary signs and
These penguins are known to have little penguin meetings under the cars so please check under your car before driving off to prevent running over them accidentally.