Boulders Beach - Penguins
Boulders Penguin Colony is a stunning year-round destination, not only during the feeding/breeding season. Nowhere else in the world you get closer to African Penguins in the wild. However, it's often crowded.
Photo by Kym Ellis on Unsplash
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
The busy months are November until March/April. However, it can be crowded in the shoulder and off-season as well, especially on the weekends. To beat the crowds and increase the chance of a parking lot, be there very early in the morning as soon as they open. Another idea is to go late: About 1 hour before they close. You'll see more penguins compared to mornings.
The breeding season is from February until August: It peaks from March to May. It's fascinating because all the penguins are at the beach feeding the small ones. The babies get fed for about two months in the late afternoon. Therefore you have to decide between fewer crowds but also fewer penguins in the morning and more crowds but also more penguins in the afternoon. Or go late before they close (see above Tourist crowds). In general, you'll spot more penguins in the breeding season than at other times.
Boulder Beach in the afternoon
- Winter: April - September 08:00 - 17:00
- Summer: December - January 07:00 - 19:30
- February - March 08:00 - 18:30
- October - November 08:00 - 18:30
- January: Juveniles are moulting, adults feeding up for the breeding season.
- February - August: Breeding season with most penguins at the beach.
- September - October: Penguins at sea, feeding up for moulting. Fewer penguins at the beach.
- November - December: Moulting season.
Best weather with least rain is from October until March. The chance of increasing rainfall starts in May and lasts until September. Simons Town Weather Averages
In 1983 the first pair of African penguins established this colony. Nowadays there are about 2000 around the area of Boulders. Unfortunately, the numbers are decreasing due to domestic pets, seals, overfishing, climate change, even cars and first of all humans. Meanwhile, the species is classified as endangered since 2010.
Boulders Beach is a section of Table Mountain National Park and consists of 3 beaches and one penguin viewing area. For the ever-increasing number of visitors peaking at 60.000 a year, the access is possible via wheelchair-friendly boardwalks.
One of the wheelchair accessible boardwalks
Using them not only protects the environment and the penguins' habitat but also providing great viewing spots for capturing a photo of the nesting penguins and their chicks. Because the area is a Marine Protected Area, you must follow the rules of Cape Peninsula National Park and never remove any marine life from the area. Respect the distance to this majestic birds, they have a strong beak and bite. Anyway, the area around Boulders might be the only place in the world where people can swim amongst penguins. You could also check for low tide, as there is more space at the beach during crowded times.
What else can you do?
Besides the impressive Penguin experience, you will find Restaurants and B&B’s nearby. Although you may find some great places around we loved to drive a bit north to visit the Brass Bell at Kalk Bay. It is directly located "in" the ocean and offers great meals.
View from inside the Brass Bell restaurant
The beach is very popular as a family friendly swimming area. You can do your picnic here and let the kids climb the many boulders and explore the rock pools.
Where to Stay (Hotels, Lodges, B&B)
- A Boat House (8-minute walk from the beach): Incredible staff and host, stunning view, great breakfast, great pool, spacious room with detailed touches, beautiful location. Amazing value! We say: A++
- Rocklands Seaside Bed and Breakfast (excellent location): Lovely and accommodating hosts. Comfortable and of top class. Delicious breakfast and a view to die for! One of the best places you can stay at in the Cape.
- Alternatives (incl. budget tips): Penguin Colony | B&B - Lodges: Enter your preferred dates and then check the list of hotels. Make sure to change the search criteria to your liking at the top bar. We usually select 'Review Score & Price'.
Pay the entrance conservation fee in advance at one of the following locations
- The Aloe Unique shop in Simon's Town (close to the Penguin Colony), 18 Kleintuin Road, Seaforth, Simon's Town
- The Cape Point Ostrich farm, Plateau Road, Cape Peninsula, Cape Town
More information about the whole region: Table Mountain National Park. An excellent guidebook which is very captivating and extremely helpful in orienting yourself within the city and the area:
Video by Paul Brown