1. Lamu Island, Kenya
With its endless tropical beaches, tiny villages nestled among mango plantations and quaint medieval old town, Lamu lives life at its own relaxed pace. The old town began life as a 14th century Swahili settlement, but the island has had many influential visitors, including Portuguese explorers, Turkish traders and the Omani Arabs. The island’s narrow streets remain unchanged, and as there are no vehicles, the donkey and the dhow is the dominant form of transport.
2. Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
With its relaxed small-town atmosphere, Umhlanga Rocks just north of Durban, is a big hit with tourists in search of warm waters, superb accommodation. The beaches at Umhlanga Rocks stretch some 200 kilometres north, all the way to the Isimangaliso Wetland Park World Heritage Site.
3. Lemur Island, Madagascar
Much more relaxed that the main island of Nosy Be, long stretches of white sandy beaches on the volcanic island of Nosy Komba allow you to relax in peace and catch some sun. Just a stone’s throw away from Nosy Be, it’s a good idea to explore this island with a bag of fruit to attract the lemurs. A trek to the top of the island’s 622-metre-high peak and a visit to the local handicraft market are musts.
4. Durban North Beach, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Located north of Durban’s harbour and bluff, in between the Bay of Plenty and Dairy Beach, North Beach boasts a beautiful sunrise that is sure to capture your heart. The beach boasts some of the warmest waters in Southern Africa, so it’s popular with surfers, body-boarders and paddle-skiers.
5. Mafia, Tanzania
Throughout the Tanzania’s Swahili Coast, diving, swimming, and snorkeling offer superb vistas of thriving coral and marine life. On the island of Mafia, old trading towns line the walkway to the gentle sea. The coral reefs, bays, sand bars, lagoons and beaches of the Mafia Archipelago are now part of Tanzania’s first marine national park, Mafia Island Marine Park. Thanks to the fact that the island only attracts 1,000 visitors each year, Mafia has remained wonderfully unspoilt.
6. Mombasa’s North Coast, Kenya
The coastline south of Mombassa is a tropical paradise, where the turquoise waters are alive with coral, fish, turtles and dolphins. Both outer and inner reef walls offer world class diving with spectacular coral gardens, and the beaches are bordered by lush green coastal rainforests that are home to baboons, colobus monkeys and leopards.
7. Benguerra, Mozambique
The beaches on Benguerra Island feature fine sand sprinkled with thousands of shells. The second largest island in the Bazaruto Archipelago, there are beaches all over the island. The waters on the western side are generally very calm, so they’re perfect for swimming and sunbathing. There are some amazing dive sites and plenty of opportunities for horse riding and fishing. The tidal variations are considerable – at low tide it may be a couple of kilometres to the sea.
8. Cape Vidal, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
From snorkeling at low tide in the natural tidal pool, to being mesmerized by the rich marine life, this is a place where nature and people weave together. Cape Vidal, Sodwana Bay, uMkhuze, Kosi Bay, False Bay and Maphelane form part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site on the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Due to its location between two diverse environments, Cape Vidal offers travellers a choice between the wildlife of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and the marine life of the Indian Ocean. It’s a true beach-and-bush destination.
9. Malindi & Watamu, Kenya
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The small town of Malindi is at the heart of a strip of idyllic tropical beaches dotted with world class resorts and peaceful hideaways. Further south, the sleepy village of Watamu is fronted by wide white beaches. To the northwest you’ll find the spectacular Marafa Depression, a series of sandstone gorges and gullies known as Hell's Kitchen. In the thick jungles of the Arabuko Sokoke Forest reserve you may stumble along visiting herds of elephants or the lost town of Gedi, a deserted trading Swahili town.
10. Llandudno, Western Cape, South Africa
The views from the Llandudno Beach are spectacular and the water is often a clear tropical blue that’s inviting and refreshing, albeit rather cool. The waves are powerful and great for surfing. Stay a little later and you’ll find out why this s one of the best sundowner beaches in the world.