Africa probably does not spring to mind as the first destination you would choose when planning a beach holiday, but there are many great reasons to give it a try. Cape Town in South Africa has up until recently always been "the" destination to go to if you wanted to go to Africa and enjoy the beach as well as all the other great things that only this great continent has to offer. Now there are new kids on the block and places like Zanzibar off the coast of Tanzania, Mombasa in Kenya and The Gambia have really come in to their own each offering their own unique selling points and flavour of Africa but all great beach holiday destinations.
One of the more obvious reasons to pick somewhere on the African continent is to enjoy the beach during the European winter, breaking up your winter and escaping the summer holiday rush. How often these days do we hear of strikes at airports during the summer peak holiday period, delaying millions of holidaymakers and destroying their few weeks away from work? Escape the rush and travel out of the peak season.
Beach Holiday in Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town in South Africa is still the most sophisticated beach holiday destination in Africa, with the incredible backdrop of Table Mountain, excellent accommodation options and some of the best restaurants in the world it would be an excellent place to visit even without the beach. On top of that you can also enjoy the best wines and scenery of South Africa on the Garden Route, which stretches from Mossel Bay to the Storms River in the Western Cape. There are ten nature reserves in the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals and a host of other marine life.
Combing golf with a beach holiday has always been popular in places like Spain and Portugal, South Africa and the Cape Region have some of the best Golf courses in the world, now you can combine a beach, golf and safari holiday, there is nowhere in Europe that can boast that!
What about the beaches? Cape Town has some excellent beaches, False Bay with the long sandy beach which extends from Gordon's Bay to Muizenberg and includes Boulders Beach and Simon's Town. The Atlantic Seaboard along the West (Atlantic) side of the Cape Peninsula with well known beaches including Sandy Bay, Clifton Camps Bay, Scarborough and Kommetjie. The West Coast, running Northwards from Cape Town with the windy conditions make these beaches popular for surfing and kite-surfing.
An important point to note is the sea in False Bay is about 6 degrees warmer than the Atlantic Seaboard and the West Coast!
On the down side, Cape Town is the furthest point in Africa you can travel to from Europe, so expect a long flight as mentioned above the water can be a little chilly and then it is probably one of the more expensive destinations in Africa.
Beach Holiday in Mombasa, Kenya
Kenya, probably best known for it's wildlife safaris on the Masai Mara but also has plenty to offer in the way of beach holidays on the coastline near Mombasa. The city of Mombasa is a "real" bustling African city and there is in stark contrast to the sophistication of Cape Town. There are however many fine places to eat to sample some more traditional African food as well as those catering to western palates. The Old town is also well worth visiting and Fort Jesus, a Portuguese fort built in 1593 by order of King Philip II of Spain, to guard the Old Port of Mombasa, Kenya. It was built in the shape of a man and was given the name of Jesus as a religious reference.
Along the coast there are plenty of places to stay with some of the most luxurious hotels you'll find anywhere in Africa, some great little beach cottages as well as basic beach side campsites, something for everyone.
The snorkelling and diving in Mombasa and the surrounding areas is also excellent and it is a great place to learn to dive with the prices here are substantially cheaper than many other well know diving locations. Bamburi beach is a great location to base your beach holiday in Kenya, about half an hour from Nairobi, there are some great hotels and beach cottages as well as an excellent PADI dive center located at the well know Travelers Beach Hotel.
Of course no trip to Kenya would be complete without some sort of Safari and they can be organized from Mombasa with a popular destination being the Tsavo National Park, less well known than the Masai mara, but at just over 21,000km sq, Tsavo is the largest national park in Kenya and one of the largest in the world with large herds of Elephant and plenty of lions, it is well worth considering if you want to take a break from relaxing on the beach!
With these two very different African beach holiday options, I hope to have given you a just a flavour of what Africa can offer you in the way of your next seaside holiday.