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Expat Exchange - 10 Best Places to Live on the Coast in South Africa
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10 Best Places to Live on the Coast in South Africa

By Betsy Burlingame

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Summary: If coastal living is for you, read about the 10 best places to live on the coast in South Africa.

Cape Town

Cape Town

Cape Town, is a stunning coastal city located at the southern tip of the African continent. With a population of approximately 4.6 million people, it is the second-largest city in the country. Cape Town boasts a beautiful and diverse waterfront, featuring pristine sandy beaches, rugged coastline, and rocky shores. The city is well-connected to other major cities in South Africa, such as Johannesburg and Durban, through a network of highways and railways. Public transportation in Cape Town includes buses, trains, and taxis, making it easy for residents and tourists to navigate the city. The climate in Cape Town is Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and warm, dry summers. Average temperatures range from 8-18°C (46-64°F) in winter and 16-26°C (61-79°F) in summer. Cape Town offers a wide variety of recreational activities, such as hiking, surfing, and wine tasting. Some popular spots include Table Mountain National Park, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and the V&A Waterfront. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy playing at prestigious clubs like the Royal Cape Golf Club and Steenberg Golf Club. Cape Town is a popular tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. The city offers a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels. Rental properties near the water can vary in price, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment averaging around ZAR 20,000 (€1,200 or $1,400) per month, and a 3-bedroom apartment averaging around ZAR 30,000 (€1,800 or $2,100) per month. For grocery shopping, residents have access to both large chain stores, such as Pick n Pay and Woolworths, as well as smaller local markets. People enjoy living in Cape Town for its stunning natural beauty, vibrant culture, and diverse recreational opportunities. The city offers a high quality of life, with access to excellent healthcare, education, and entertainment facilities. The presence of international schools, such as the American International School of Cape Town and the International School of Cape Town, also makes it an attractive destination for expatriates and their families. Overall, Cape Town is a beautiful, dynamic, and welcoming city that has something to offer everyone.

Local Recommendations:

Savor the flavors of Cape Town with a visit to The Test Kitchen, an award-winning restaurant that offers a unique culinary experience with its innovative tasting menu. For a more casual dining experience, head to Kloof Street House, a Victorian-inspired eatery that serves up delicious South African fare in a cozy, eclectic setting. Don't miss out on the seafood at Harbour House, where you can enjoy fresh catches while taking in stunning views of the ocean. Rest your head at the luxurious Cape Grace Hotel, known for its elegant rooms and impeccable service, or opt for the trendy and eco-friendly Gorgeous George by Design Hotels, located in the heart of the city's vibrant nightlife scene.

Hermanus

Hermanus is a picturesque coastal town located approximately 120 kilometers southeast of Cape Town. With a population of around 55,000, this charming town is known for its stunning coastline, which features a mix of sandy beaches and rugged cliffs. The waterfront is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering breathtaking views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape. The climate in Hermanus is mild and pleasant, with average temperatures ranging from 14°C (57°F) in winter to 26°C (79°F) in summer. The town is well-connected to larger cities like Cape Town, with public transportation options such as buses and taxis readily available. Hermanus offers a wide range of recreational activities, including whale watching, hiking, and golfing. The Fernkloof Nature Reserve is a popular spot for nature enthusiasts, while the Hermanus Golf Club attracts golfers from all over the world. The town is also home to several swim clubs, such as the Hermanus Aquatic Club, which offers swimming lessons and competitive swimming events. Tourism plays a significant role in the local economy, with many visitors coming to Hermanus for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and vibrant arts scene. Rental properties near the water can be found at various price points, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment averaging around ZAR 12,000 (€720 or $850) per month, and a 3-bedroom house averaging around ZAR 18,000 (€1,080 or $1,275) per month. Grocery shopping in Hermanus is convenient, with a mix of big chain stores like Checkers and Pick n Pay, as well as smaller local shops and markets. Residents enjoy the town's relaxed atmosphere, friendly community, and access to outdoor activities, making it a popular choice for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge your taste buds at the renowned Bientang's Cave, a unique seafood restaurant carved into the cliffs, offering stunning ocean views and a chance to spot whales while you dine. For a more casual affair, head to the vibrant and trendy Eatery Hermanus, where you can enjoy delicious gourmet burgers and local craft beers. Alternatively, savor the flavors of the Mediterranean at Fabio's Ristorante, an authentic Italian eatery with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Rest your head at the luxurious Birkenhead House, perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, or opt for the charming boutique hotel, The Marine, which boasts a prime location on the cliffs of Walker Bay.

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Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay, is a picturesque coastal town located along the famous Garden Route, boasting stunning beaches and a rugged coastline. With a population of approximately 31,000 residents, it is situated about 520 km east of Cape Town and 210 km west of Port Elizabeth. The town is well-connected by road, with the N2 highway running through it, but public transportation is limited to taxis and shuttle services. Plettenberg Bay enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, with average temperatures ranging from 12°C (54°F) in winter to 26°C (79°F) in summer. The area offers a wide range of recreational activities, including golfing at the Goose Valley Golf Club and Plettenberg Bay Country Club, hiking in the Robberg Nature Reserve, and swimming at the popular Central Beach. Plettenberg Bay is also known for its water sports, such as surfing, kayaking, and whale watching. The town is quite touristy, attracting visitors with its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and vibrant local culture. Rental properties in Plettenberg Bay vary in price, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water costing around R10,000 (€570 or $680) per month, while a 3-bedroom house can go for R15,000 (€850 or $1,020) per month. For grocery shopping, residents have access to both large chain stores, such as Checkers and Spar, as well as smaller local shops and markets. People enjoy living in Plettenberg Bay for its relaxed atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, and friendly community. The town offers a high quality of life, with access to various outdoor activities, good schools, and a range of amenities, making it an ideal place for both families and retirees.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge in the culinary delights of Plettenberg Bay, starting with The Fat Fish, a trendy seafood restaurant offering a delectable selection of fresh catches and sushi. For a more intimate dining experience, head to Emily Moon River Lodge, where you can savor mouthwatering dishes while overlooking the Bitou River. Don't miss out on the Italian cuisine at Enrico's, a charming eatery with stunning ocean views. When it's time to rest, The Plettenberg Hotel offers luxurious accommodations and unparalleled service, while the Tsala Treetop Lodge provides a unique and unforgettable stay amidst the treetops of an indigenous forest.

Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay, is a picturesque coastal town located along the famous Garden Route, with a population of approximately 59,000 residents. It is situated about 400 kilometers east of Cape Town and 400 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth. The waterfront of Mossel Bay boasts a combination of pristine sandy beaches and rugged coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. The climate in Mossel Bay is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 14°C (57°F) in winter to 26°C (79°F) in summer. There are various recreational activities available in Mossel Bay, including golfing at the renowned Pinnacle Point Golf Club and Mossel Bay Golf Club, hiking in the nearby Cape St. Blaize Trail, and enjoying water sports at Santos Beach. The town is also home to the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex and the Mossel Bay Ochre Barn, which are popular tourist attractions. Mossel Bay is a moderately touristy destination, attracting visitors with its natural beauty, historical sites, and outdoor activities. Rental properties in Mossel Bay vary in price, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water costing around ZAR 8,000 (€480 or $570) per month, while a modern 3-bedroom house may cost around ZAR 12,000 (€720 or $850) per month. For grocery shopping, residents have access to both big chain stores such as Checkers and Pick n Pay, as well as smaller local stores. People enjoy living in Mossel Bay for its stunning coastal scenery, relaxed lifestyle, and friendly community. The town offers a perfect balance between modern amenities and natural beauty, making it an ideal place for both families and retirees.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge your taste buds at the Carola Ann's, a charming eatery offering a delightful fusion of South African and European cuisine. For a more casual dining experience, head to Kaai 4 Braai Restaurant, where you can savor traditional South African braai dishes while enjoying the stunning harbor views. Seafood lovers should not miss The Sea Gypsy Café, a local favorite for its fresh seafood platters and laid-back atmosphere. After a day of exploring, unwind at the luxurious African Oceans Manor on the Beach, boasting elegant suites and breathtaking ocean views. Alternatively, opt for the charming Mossel Bay Guest House, a cozy and welcoming retreat nestled in the heart of the town.

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Knysna

Knysna is a picturesque coastal town located along the famous Garden Route, with a population of approximately 85,000 people. It is situated about 485 km east of Cape Town and 60 km west of George, making it easily accessible from larger cities. The waterfront in Knysna is characterized by a stunning lagoon, surrounded by a rugged coastline and sandy beaches. The climate in Knysna is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. There are various recreational activities available in Knysna, such as golfing at the Knysna Golf Club or the Pezula Championship Golf Course, hiking in the nearby Knysna Forest, or enjoying water sports on the lagoon. The town is also home to several parks, including the Featherbed Nature Reserve and the Knysna Elephant Park. Knysna is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and vibrant local culture. Rental properties in Knysna can vary in price, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water costing around ZAR 10,000 (€600 or $700) per month, while a modern 3-bedroom house may cost around ZAR 15,000 (€900 or $1,050) per month. For grocery shopping, residents can choose from a variety of stores, such as the large chain store Pick n Pay, as well as smaller local shops and markets. People enjoy living in Knysna for its stunning natural surroundings, relaxed atmosphere, and friendly community. The town offers a high quality of life, with access to various amenities and recreational activities, making it an ideal place for both families and individuals seeking a peaceful coastal lifestyle.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge your taste buds in the culinary delights of Knysna, with a visit to these top-notch restaurants. Start your gastronomic journey at île de païn, a renowned artisan bakery and café offering mouth-watering pastries, wood-fired breads, and delectable breakfast and lunch options. For a truly unique dining experience, head to The Project Bar, where you'll find an eclectic mix of tapas-style dishes, craft beers, and live music in a trendy, industrial setting. Finally, treat yourself to a sumptuous seafood feast at 34 South, a waterfront restaurant boasting stunning views of the Knysna Lagoon and a menu filled with fresh, local ingredients. When it's time to rest your weary head, consider checking into the luxurious Turbine Hotel & Spa, a boutique hotel housed in a former power station, complete with chic, industrial-inspired décor and a tranquil spa. Alternatively, opt for the charming Belvidere Manor, a historic estate nestled on the shores of the lagoon, offering cozy cottages, lush gardens, and warm, personalized service.

St Francis Bay

St Francis Bay, is a picturesque coastal village located along the Eastern Cape's Sunshine Coast, approximately 100 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth. Known for its beautiful sandy beaches, the waterfront offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, with opportunities for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. The population of St Francis Bay is around 4,500 residents, who enjoy a mild climate with average temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. Recreational activities in St Francis Bay are abundant, catering to a variety of interests. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the St Francis Links, an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Nature lovers can explore the nearby Cape St Francis Nature Reserve, which offers scenic hiking trails and bird-watching opportunities. Water sports such as surfing, kiteboarding, and fishing are also popular activities in the area. St Francis Bay is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its charming thatched-roof houses, pristine beaches, and vibrant marina. Rental properties are available for those looking to stay near the water, with modern 2-bedroom homes averaging around R10,000 (€600 or $700) per month, and 3-bedroom homes averaging around R15,000 (€900 or $1,050) per month. For grocery shopping, residents have access to both large chain stores, such as Spar and OK Foods, as well as smaller local shops offering fresh produce and specialty items. People enjoy living in St Francis Bay for its laid-back atmosphere, stunning natural beauty, and strong sense of community. The village offers a perfect balance between modern amenities and a tranquil coastal lifestyle, making it an ideal place to call home.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge your taste buds at the renowned Rambling Rose, a charming eatery offering a delightful mix of South African and international cuisine. For a more casual dining experience, head to The Big Time Taverna, where you can savor authentic Greek dishes while enjoying stunning views of the harbor. Alternatively, try the delectable seafood at Chokka Block, a local favorite known for its fresh catch and warm atmosphere. After a day of exploring St Francis Bay, unwind at the luxurious Sandals Guest House, a boutique guesthouse boasting elegant rooms and lush gardens. For a more budget-friendly option, consider the charming Cycads on Sea Guest House, where you'll be treated to cozy accommodations and breathtaking ocean views.

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Jeffreys Bay

Jeffreys Bay, is a picturesque coastal town located along the Eastern Cape's Sunshine Coast, known for its stunning beaches and world-class surfing opportunities. The town boasts a beautiful coastline with a mix of sandy beaches and rugged, rocky shores. With a population of approximately 30,000 residents, Jeffreys Bay is situated about 75 kilometers southwest of Port Elizabeth, one of the larger cities in the region. The climate in Jeffreys Bay is mild and temperate, with average temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. The town is well-connected by road, with the N2 highway providing easy access to nearby cities and attractions. Public transportation is limited, but there are taxis and shuttle services available for getting around. Jeffreys Bay is a popular destination for both local and international tourists, offering a wide range of recreational activities. Surfing is the main attraction, with the famous Supertubes surf break drawing surfers from around the world. Other activities include sandboarding, kiteboarding, and horseback riding along the beach. For golf enthusiasts, the Jeffreys Bay Golf Club provides a scenic and challenging course. Rental properties in Jeffreys Bay vary in price, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water averaging around R8,000 (€480 or $570) per month, while a 3-bedroom house can be found for around R12,000 (€720 or $850) per month. For grocery shopping, residents have access to both large chain stores such as Spar and Checkers, as well as smaller, local shops. People enjoy living in Jeffreys Bay for its laid-back atmosphere, beautiful natural surroundings, and outdoor recreational opportunities. The friendly community and relatively low cost of living also contribute to the town's appeal. Overall, Jeffreys Bay offers a relaxed and enjoyable lifestyle for those who appreciate the beauty and adventure of coastal living.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge your taste buds at the delectable Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant, where you can savor mouth-watering seafood dishes while enjoying panoramic views of the ocean. For a more casual dining experience, head to Nina's Real Food, a local favorite offering a diverse menu of scrumptious homemade meals, from juicy burgers to fresh sushi. Don't miss out on The Greek, a charming eatery serving authentic Greek cuisine in a cozy atmosphere. After a day of exploring Jeffreys Bay, unwind at the luxurious Diaz 15 House on the Bay, boasting spacious suites and stunning sea views. Alternatively, opt for the charming Stone Olive Guesthouse, where you'll be greeted with warm hospitality and elegant accommodations.

Wilderness

Wilderness, is a picturesque coastal village located along the famous Garden Route, known for its stunning beaches, lush forests, and serene atmosphere. The waterfront boasts a combination of pristine sandy beaches and rugged coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean. With a population of approximately 6,000 residents, Wilderness is situated about 15 kilometers east of George, the nearest larger city. Public transportation is available in the form of buses and taxis, making it easy to explore the surrounding areas. The climate in Wilderness is mild and temperate, with average temperatures ranging from 10°C (50°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. This pleasant weather allows for a variety of outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, bird watching, and water sports. Some popular recreational spots include the Wilderness National Park, Map of Africa Viewpoint, and Dolphin Point Lookout. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a round at the nearby George Golf Club or Kingswood Golf Estate. Wilderness is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its natural beauty, charming atmosphere, and array of activities. Rental properties are available, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water costing around R10,000 (€600 or $700) per month, while a 3-bedroom house may cost around R15,000 (€900 or $1,050) per month. For grocery shopping, residents can visit the local Spar supermarket or venture to nearby George for a wider selection of stores, such as Checkers and Pick n Pay. People love living in Wilderness for its tranquil environment, friendly community, and easy access to both the beach and the forest. The village offers a perfect balance between modern amenities and natural beauty, making it an ideal location for those seeking a peaceful and picturesque lifestyle.

Local Recommendations:

Indulge your taste buds at the renowned Serendipity Restaurant, where you'll be treated to a fine dining experience with a focus on local ingredients and South African flavors. For a more casual affair, head to the ever-popular Pomodoro, offering delicious Italian cuisine in a cozy, family-friendly atmosphere. Alternatively, savor the ocean's bounty at Blue Olive, a charming seafood eatery with a relaxed vibe and stunning views. After a day of exploring the natural beauty of Wilderness, retreat to the luxurious Views Boutique Hotel & Spa, boasting panoramic vistas of the Indian Ocean and Outeniqua Mountains. For a more intimate stay, consider the charming Mont Fleur B&B, nestled in a lush garden setting and offering warm hospitality and personalized service.

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Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth, is a beautiful coastal city located on the southeastern coast of the country. It boasts stunning sandy beaches, such as King's Beach and Hobie Beach, which are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. The city has a population of approximately 1.3 million people and is situated about 770 kilometers east of Cape Town, one of South Africa's largest cities. Public transportation in Port Elizabeth includes buses and taxis, making it easy to navigate the city and its surroundings. The climate in Port Elizabeth is mild, with average temperatures ranging from 9°C (48°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. This pleasant weather allows for a variety of recreational activities, such as golfing at the Humewood Golf Club or the Walmer Country Club, exploring the beautiful Donkin Reserve park, or visiting the Kragga Kamma Game Park for a wildlife experience. Port Elizabeth is a popular tourist destination, offering a range of attractions, such as the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, the South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Centre, and the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World. Rental properties in Port Elizabeth vary in price, but a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water can cost around R8,000 (€480 or $570) per month, while a 3-bedroom house may cost around R12,000 (€720 or $850) per month. For grocery shopping, residents have access to both large chain stores, such as Pick n Pay and Checkers, as well as smaller local shops and markets. People enjoy living in Port Elizabeth for its beautiful beaches, pleasant climate, and friendly community. The city offers a relaxed lifestyle with a variety of recreational activities and attractions, making it an ideal place to call home.

Local Recommendations:

Satisfy your culinary cravings in Port Elizabeth with a visit to Ginger Restaurant, where you'll be treated to a delightful fusion of global flavors and local ingredients. Enjoy the stunning ocean views as you indulge in their delectable seafood dishes and fine wines. For a more casual dining experience, head to Vovo Telo, a charming bakery and café offering artisanal breads, pastries, and gourmet pizzas. Don't miss the opportunity to try their famous Eggs Benedict for breakfast. If you're in the mood for something spicy, Bocadillos on 1st is the place to be. This trendy eatery serves up mouthwatering tapas and Mediterranean-inspired dishes, perfect for sharing with friends. When it comes to accommodation, The Boardwalk Hotel is a luxurious choice, boasting a prime location on the beachfront and offering world-class amenities, including a spa, casino, and a variety of dining options. For a more intimate stay, No5 by Mantis is a boutique hotel that exudes elegance and sophistication, with its beautifully appointed suites and personalized service ensuring a memorable experience in Port Elizabeth.

East London

East London, is a charming coastal city situated along the southeastern coast of the country. With a population of approximately 267,000, it is the second largest city in the Eastern Cape Province. East London is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Nahoon Beach and Gonubie Beach, which offer a mix of sandy shores and rugged coastline, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing. The city is located about 300 kilometers from the larger city of Port Elizabeth, making it relatively accessible for travelers. The climate in East London is warm and temperate, with average temperatures ranging from 16°C (61°F) in winter to 25°C (77°F) in summer. Public transportation is available in the form of buses and taxis, making it easy for residents and visitors to navigate the city. East London offers a variety of recreational activities, including golfing at the East London Golf Club, hiking in the nearby Amalinda Nature Reserve, and enjoying water sports at the Orient Beach Swimming Complex. East London is not overly touristy, allowing visitors to experience an authentic South African coastal city. Rental properties can be found throughout the city, with a modern 2-bedroom apartment near the water costing around 8,000 ZAR (€480 or $570) per month, while a 3-bedroom apartment may cost around 12,000 ZAR (€720 or $850) per month. For grocery shopping, residents can choose from a variety of stores, including large chains like Pick n Pay and SPAR, as well as smaller local shops. People enjoy living in East London for its relaxed atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and friendly community. The city offers a high quality of life, with access to various recreational activities, shopping centers, and educational institutions, making it an attractive destination for both locals and expats.

Local Recommendations:

Discover the culinary delights of East London with a visit to Sanook, a trendy eatery offering a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian flavors. For a more traditional South African experience, head to Grazia Fine Food & Wine, where you can indulge in local dishes while enjoying stunning views of the Indian Ocean. Don't miss the opportunity to dine at Cantina & Craft, a vibrant Mexican-inspired restaurant with an impressive selection of craft beers. After a day of exploring, unwind at the luxurious Premier Hotel EL ICC, boasting modern amenities and a prime location near the beach. Alternatively, immerse yourself in the charm of the Blue Lagoon Hotel, nestled along the banks of the picturesque Nahoon River.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


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