Just around the corner from Simon’s Town lies Boulders Beach, a sheltered cove of soft white sand, massive granite boulders and – being on the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula – water that’s a little warmer than the icy temperatures of Cape Town's Atlantic Ocean beaches.
Yet it’s not the squeaky-clean sand or crystal clear water that makes visitors to flock to Boulders but its local residents – penguins. Boulders Beach and neighbouring Foxy Beach are home to a colony of thousands of African penguins and it's great fun to watch them go about their daily business: preening and sunning themselves, guarding a nest, waddling along the sand like an old married couple and then transforming into sleek black-and-white torpedoes as soon as they enter the water.
To get really close to the penguins stroll along the wooden boardwalks that thread through the dense vegetation, over the dunes and round Foxy Beach - with such a beautiful setting and ever-obliging birds you’re sure to get some great photos. In fact the penguins almost seem to pose for pictures, though a word of warning: don’t hassle the penguins or try to touch them - they may look cute but they can be grouchy and those beaks are razor sharp.
Afterward wandering the boardwalks, head down to Boulders Beach itself and find a spot to soak up some sunshine and enjoy the unique experience of sharing a stretch of sand with these birds in their butler-style tailcoats. If you’re travelling with kids, be prepared to stay a while: the water’s safe for swimming, there are rock pools to explore and boulders to clamber about on – it really is the perfect spot for a family beach picnic.
A final word of advice for those who have driven to Boulders Beach: before you leave, check to see whether any stray birds have chosen to rest in the shade of, or underneath, your car.