African Beach Destinations: 6 Hidden Spots for Coastal Vacations


Few places in the world can beat the diversity and beauty of African beach destinations. Extending over a collective 30,000 kilometers, the African coastline is one of the longest.

It is home to a rich variety of cultures and holds a lot of historical significance. Due to the diverse climate zones, it is incredibly rich in coastal wildlife and marine life.

But with so much ground to cover and so many things to do here, where do you start? Here is a compilation of some of the best hidden coastal vacation spots on the continent:

Lamu Island, Kenya


If you want to escape the hustle of city life, the best place to start is the Lamu archipelago. Located in the northern coast of Kenya on the Indian Ocean, the area consists of islands and islets. Lamu is the most well-known among these; other noteworthy ones include Kiwayu, Pate and Manda.

Lamu town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that takes you on a trip back into time. It is a Swahili settlement dating back to the 14th century. The town, which winds through narrow streets, consists of coral stone architecture. In place of cars, it has donkeys and dhows as its primary means of transport.

The unspoiled beaches of Lamu feature pristine, white sands and clear blue waters. Some of the activities you can enjoy here include scuba diving, snorkeling and dhow sailing. While you are here, you will enjoy the delicious Swahili cuisine and the people’s unique culture. There are several historical sites to tour as well.

Ifaty, Madagascar

Ifaty is one of the most underrated African beach destinations. Situated in the southwestern side of Madagascar, this remote coastal paradise is a must-see. It is home to an extensive coastline consisting of golden sands and turquoise waters.

One of the most famous landmarks here is the Great Reef of Toliara. This is one of the Indian Ocean’s largest coral reefs and the fifth largest worldwide. The reef complex extends over 450 kilometers, featuring fringing, patch and barrier reefs. There are beautiful lagoons and breathtaking slopes, and more than 6,000 marine species. This is one of few places on the planet where you can find the coelacanth – a fish species said to be 400 million years old.

Interestingly, this coastal gem sits in the backdrop of a harsh desert terrain. The Spiny Forest is a distinctive ecosystem consisting of baobabs and thorny succulents. In addition to touring this unique landscape, you can try windsurfing, kite surfing, snorkeling and scuba diving here.

Tofo Beach, Mozambique


Despite being one of the most beautiful African beach destinations, Tofo is also surprisingly secluded. This golden sandy paradise is one of few places on the planet where you can see whale sharks and manta rays year-round. It is also a great place to watch the migration of giant humpback whales between June and October.

There are plenty of things to do in this lively beach town, day or night. It has spectacular sunset views and beautiful dunes to explore. The local markets are great for food lovers, with fresh seafood at low prices. At night, the beach comes alive thanks to the vibrant beachside bars and restaurants.

Tofo is renowned for its world-class scuba diving experience, thanks to the variety of marine life. You can also kitesurf, surf and windsurf here.

Santo Antao, Cape Verde

If you are searching for a non-traditional beach vacation experience, Santo Antao is the place to be. Its picturesque beaches are nothing like the long, sandy shorelines you might be used to. Rather, they consist of rocky inlets and charming coves.

The West African island of Santo Antao is in fact famed for its dramatic landscape. High mountains with steep peaks and breathtaking ravines line the volcanic land. Though a part of it is barren, the northeastern side is full of lush vegetation.

On the southern side of the island in Tarrafal lies an extensive beach consisting of volcanic sand. The contrast between this black sand and the blue water is a sight to see. It all sits in the backdrop of a huge, rugged cliff, facing the sunset. While you are in Santa Antao, you can enjoy boat rides, incredible photography and hiking.

Tiwi Beach, Kenya

Situated in the Mombasa’s south coast, Tiwi beach is a closely guarded secret. It is home to white, sandy beaches and a coral reef quite close to shore. The reef is just 50 meters away and is teeming with life. The beaches are lined with casuarina trees and palm trees, providing beautiful spots for lounging.

One of the most outstanding marvels of nature here is the Africa Pool. The pool, which is accessible in low tide, is shaped just like the African continent. It is a great snorkeling spot with plenty of beautiful fish species.

Tiwi offers some of the best dolphin-watching tours. It is also a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving with a wide variety of marine life and clear, warm waters. Close to the beach, you can enjoy wildlife viewing at the Mwaluganje Elephant Sanctuary. Shimba Hills National is also close by.

Umzumbe, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


This beautiful coastal town sits along the Hibiscus Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It is home to soft, golden sands and warm water, ideal for water adventures. Situated close to the beautiful Mzumbe River, it has long stretches of unspoiled coastline to explore. There isn’t much infrastructure to interrupt the beauty of this coastal paradise.

Close to the beach, beautiful sand dune vegetation offers a feast for the eyes. During the second half of the year, you will likely spot giant humpback whales here. You can also enjoy hiking the hills and forests in the area.

The area is a popular surfing spot with great wave breaks for all levels of experience. Other activities here include boating, fishing, snorkeling and scuba diving.

Your Ultimate Coastal Holiday Off-the-Beaten Path

African beach destinations offer unforgettable coastal experiences. The incredible diversity in marine life, stunning landscapes and unique cultural experiences keep things spicy. In these hidden gems, you get to enjoy all these without the overcrowding that is typical of popular beach vacation spots. If you are planning an off-the-beaten path coastal vacation, these are the best places to visit.

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