Everything you need to know about visiting the penguins in Cape Town

The penguins in Cape Town, found at Boulders Beach in Simons Town, are at the top of many visitor’s Cape Town bucket list and for good reason… these smart little birds are a delight to observe and a very memorable outing for all ages!

Boulders Beach is home to a very special land based colony of approx 2 100 African Penguins, the only penguin species that breeds in Africa. This unique and endangered land-based colony of African Penguins is one of only a few in the world, and the site has become a popular international tourist destination. The penguins are protected because there are only a few of these colonies left in the world as their number have decreased over the years due to overfishing, habitat destruction, global warming, oil spills, irresponsible tourist activities and other ocean pollution factors.

Here is everything you need to know about seeing penguins at Boulders Beach!

Where is Boulders Beach?

The penguin colony is located at Boulders Beach which is in Simons Town, a small coastal village which is an outlying suburb of Cape Town. Situated on the shores of False Bay in the eastern part of the Cape Town peninsula the water here is warmer than on the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

How do I get to Boulders Beach?

The best way to reach Boulders Beach is by road. You will need to either drive a private vehicle, hire a rental car or catch an Uber. Alternatively book to visit via a private tour company.

There are two main ways to get to Simons Town from the city center of Cape Town. The scenic route via Camps Bay, Hout Bay, over Chapmans Peak and then onto Simons Town. Or the fast route on the M3 highway that heads down towards Muizenberg and Kalk Bay.

Where can I see the penguins at Boulders?

The Boulders section of TMNP consists of 3 pristine beaches, 1 penguin viewing area and 3 boardwalks. The boardwalks were built as a measure to allow for viewing of the birds, whilst keeping them safe from poking fingers and selfie sticks!

When you get to Simons Town there are two possible entrances to see the penguins that are connected by a public boardwalk. You can either stop at the first entrance which is in Seaforth Road. This will take you onto a wooden walkway and all the way down to a viewing platform where you can see hundreds of penguins frolicking about. This beach, Foxy Beach, is off limits to people, but the boardwalk brings you close enough to the beach to get great photos and you’ll spot nesting boards along the edge (or beneath) the boardwalk. You will see the most penguins here.

The other entrance is down Bellevue Road and this will take you directly to Boulders Beach where you can walk on to the beach and might see penguins enjoying a swim or relaxing on the beach amidst the other beach goers! If you want a bit of a closer look, to see the penguins going about their business or to bump into one while swimming or exploring the rocks then head here. This area is only accessible during low tide. Be aware of the signs that tell you where you are not allowed to go as there are hefty fines to be paid if you get caught by a Sanparks official somewhere where you aren’t allowed to be.

Boulders Beach itself is ideal for children as the immense boulders shelter the cove from currents, wind and large waves and it’s a great place to spend the day after your penguin viewing outing and the kids will love the calm water and soft sand.

Is there an entrance fee to see the penguins?

Yes, there are entrance fees to pay at the gate to see the penguins in Simons Town. Your tickets can be used at both entrances to the reserve and they are valid for the whole day.

South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):R39 per adult per dayR20 per child, per day
SADC Nationals (with passport):R76 per adult per dayR39 per child, per day
Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):R152 per adult per dayR76 per child, per day

The money is used for penguin conservation and general maintenance and upkeep. The rates for South African citizens has only recently been lowered but you will need to have your South African ID with you in order to qualify for these reduced rates for locals.

What is the best time to see the penguins at Boulders Beach?

Penguins live in the colony throughout the year at Boulders but summer is prime penguin time. The Cape Peninsula can be very windy during summer so hold on to your hats!

From September to October you will see fewer penguins during the day as they might be feeding out at sea.

For the best penguin sightings and great photo opportunities the best time to go is either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The morning is great because there are fewer people, but you can’t beat the afternoon light.

One of the most important things to consider when planning your visit to the penguins is to check the tide. If the tide is very high or the ocean swells are big then you might not be able to see the birds up close. Check the tides online and plan your visit accordingly.

Tips for visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach

  • Limited parking is available so arrive early during peak summer months.
  • Alcohol and smoking prohibited.
  • Beach space depends on the tides – so make sure to come at low tide.
  • Boulders is closed to all vessels including canoes and kayaks.
  • Boulders falls within a No-take Zone in the Marine Protected Area of the TMNP. No marine life may be removed.
  • Go early in the morning to make the most out of your day.
  • Stay on the boardwalks at all times within the viewing area.
  • Don’t touch the penguins! These are wild animals so no interaction should be made plus they have a hard bite!
  • If you are unsure of where you are allowed and not allowed to go do ask an official.
  • Do not litter or leave anything behind.
  • Don’t go into the penguins space or corner them.
  • Be respectful of the surroundings and do try and be quiet.
  • Take loads of photos, it will be a memory you treasure forever.
  • Don’t feed the penguins.
  • The area is a no drone zone.

Contact details

Tel: +27 (0) 21 786 2329.

Opening hours

Winter: April – September08:00 – 17:00
Summer: December – January07:00 – 19:30
February – March

08:00 – 18:30
October – November08:00 – 18:30

What can I do to help?

For more information on how to help the plight of the African Penguin, contact SANCCOB on +27 (0) 21 557 6155.

Avatar
Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.