Boulders Beach penguin viewing in Simons Town, Cape Town is on a lot of people’s bucket lists. Why wouldn’t it be, these cuties with their silly waddle and fancy “suits” will make you smile on even the gloomiest of days.
Here is my complete guide to seeing penguins at Boulders Beach!
Where is Boulders Beach
The first thing you will need to know is where you can actually see the penguins. It might seem like an easy question for us Capetonians but if you are not from here a it can be quite tricky.
The penguin colony is in Simons Town which is a little coastal “village” and is situated on the shores of False Bay. This is the eastern part of the Cape Town peninsula which is known for it’s warmer water.
There are two main ways to get to Simons Town from Cape Town city center. There is the scenic route which I personally love and takes you via Camps Bay, Hout Bay, over Chapmans Peak and then onto Simons Town. You can also take the fast route on the highway towards Muizenberg and Kalk bay. Just pop it into google maps and pick the route that suits you best.
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 walk way and all the way down to a viewing platform where you can see hundreds of penguins frolicking about on foxy beach. This beach is off limits to people but it is close enough to the beach to get a great photo.
The other entrance is down Bellevue road and this will take you directly to Boulders beach where you might see penguins while enjoying a swim or relaxing on the beach.
I would definitely suggest parking at the one side and then just using the boardwalk to walk from one to the other. Its a close walk and saves your from having to find parking again as it can get pretty full.
Is there an entrance fee to see the penguins
Yes there are fees to pay at the gates to see the penguins in Simons Town. Your tickets are valid for the entire day ( you can exit and re enter again on the same day ) and the tickets can also be used for both entrances.
|South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):||R39 per adult per day||R20 per child, per day|
|SADC Nationals (with passport):||R76 per adult per day||R39 per child, per day|
|Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):||R152 per adult per day||R76 per child, per day|
The money is used for conservation and upkeep and they really do a great job. The rates for South African citizens has recently been lowered but you have to take your ID with you in order to qualify for these rates.
Best time to see penguins
You will see penguins throughout the year at Boulders but Summer is really a prime time. Except for the pesky wind the weather is mostly great and the penguins are out in full force. From September till October you will see a bit less as the birds will be mostly feeding out at see.
If you really want good sightings and photos the best option is to go either early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The morning is great because there are fewer people but you can’t beat the afternoon light with the bright blue water and golden sand.
One of the most important things is to check the tide. If the tide is very high or the ocean swells are big chances are you wont be able to see them up close. Check the tides online and plan your visit accordingly.
Click here to see the opening and closing times at Boulders beach.
Where to see the most penguins
Foxy beach at the main entrance definitely has the most penguins and the view from the viewing deck is incredible. You can see them slipping and sliding into the water, making a big noise and just being penguins. I love just watching them go about their daily lives. Go in the afternoon to get the stunning bucket list blue water shot with all the penguins on the beach.
If you want a bit of a closer look then Boulders beach is where you should be headed. They like coming onto the main beach at sunset but otherwise you will find them in between the rocks to the left side of the beach. This area is only accessible during low tide and is quite difficult to get to so be safe. Also be aware of the signs that tell you where you are not allowed to go. There is a hefty fine if you get caught by a Sanparks official somewhere where you aren’t allowed to be.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Do go early in the morning to make the most out of your day
- Don’t touch the penguins ever! They bite hard and won’t be nice for you or the penguin. They are cute but also wild animals so no interaction should be made.
- If you are unsure of where you are allowed and not allowed to go do ask an official. They are always walking around in there green uniforms and will definitely help.
- 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.
- Definitely do take loads of photos, it will be a memory you treasure forever
- Don’t try and feed the penguins, they are pretty good at catching their own food
- No alcohol is allowed on within the Boulders area
- Don’t take anything from the beach as it is a protected area
- It’s a no drone zone
- Selfie sticks are not allowed to be used to push your phone into a penguins space.
A little bit more about the Simons Town Penguin colony
You might be wondering what is special about the penguins and why are they protected. Boulders is home to a very special land based colony of penguins. Unfortunately there are actually only a few of these left in the world. There are only around 2100 bird in the colony as their number have decreased over the years. The causes are over fishing, oil spills, irresponsible tourist activities and other ocean pollution factors.
For more information on how to help the plight of the African Penguin, contact SANCCOB on +27(0 21 557 6155
More things to do in the area:
- Go for lunch at Monocle and Mermaid
- Stroll down St Georges road and visit some of the unique stores
- Have traditional fish and chips at The Salty Seadog
- Visit on of the four museums in Simons Town
- Go on a kayak tour
- Enjoy a boat cruise around Simons Bay
- Spend a night at the stunning Tintswalo at Boulders