When it comes to attracting tourists, South Africa doesn’t just flex its muscle: By unapologetically showcasing our endless stretches of golden coastlines and the hazy sunsets over sprawling acres of game reserves, we are actually bench-pressing the competition.
You’d think Mzansi would be content with its lot, but no. There’s another, almost secretive side to our nation which is hidden in our vast ocean surroundings. There are some beautiful islands of South Africa that we need to talk about.
Where are the islands of South Africa?
There’s something so hypnotic about a small stretch of land that defies an onslaught of the unforgiving seas, to live a peaceful existence in the
Sorry Robben Island, you always get the limelight. Let these guys have a go…
Your guide to the i
slands of South Africa:
Addo Elephant Island Group
Where: This group of four islands lays to the south-east of the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape, about an hour away from Port Elizabeth.
What makes it unique: It’s home to several key breeding colonies for seals, birds and penguins. So do not disturb.
Where: SA’s second biggest island is a 10km boat ride off the coast of Yzerfontein, in the Western Cape.
What makes it unique: It has a museum and an information board, which reveals how penguin eggs were once used as soap on the island. Each to their own, we suppose.
Where: Otherwise known as Seal Island, this tiny strut of land in the Atlantic Ocean is a tourist favourite for those visiting Hout Bay, which is a 20-minute drive from Cape Town.
What makes it unique: Where else can you see 64 000 fur seals frolicking in the sun? Exactly.
Where: Just across the water from Gansbaai and Birkenhead is this nature reserve, and it’s a stunning haven in the middle of choppy ocean seas.
What makes it unique: You can see “The Marine Big Five” here, including sharks and whales.
Possibility of visiting: You can get very, very close, but tour companies will only let you look rather than touch. If you journey to the island, you can either bird-and-whale-watch, or go cage diving with the sharks. Gulp…
Islands of Saldhana Bay
Where: About two hours north of Cape Town is Saldhana Bay. The West Coast gem is home to some wonderful islands, with six out of seven of them being uninhabited.
What makes it unique: They are used as marine havens, penguin colonies and bird sanctuaries. Also, Marcus Island is currently under SANDF protection in order to preserve its wildlife.
Possibility of visiting: You’re about 57 years too late for most of them. No-one has occupied the islands since 1962. However, you can go for a picnic on the Klein Eiland peninsula and it feels like the real deal.
Leisure and Thesen Islands
Where: The gorgeous Knysna Lagoon, towards the end of the Garden Route in the Western Cape, boasts two islands that nestle on the gentle currents in perfect harmony.
What makes it unique: It’s accessibility. You can actually drive to either island by crossing the bridges.
Possibility of visiting: So, of course, these two islands are the easiest to reach. You can even stay here, at one of the many B&Bs and guesthouses that enjoy a quaint existence on the isles.
St Lucia (KZN)
Where: An hour north of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, this mesmeric location boasts a welcoming community and views that’ll live long in the memory.
What makes it unique: It’s technically not an island, but might as well be. The World Heritage Site is isolated from the mainland by two shallow estuaries. Sorry, there’s no way we could leave it out.
Possibility of visiting: Fill your boots! There’s an incredible buzz on the island, which hosts international tourists in world-class facilities all year round.
Islands of South Africa – South African overseas territories:
Prince Edward Islands
Where: Okay, we’re going on a bit of a journey here. About 1700km south of Mzansi lies both Prince Edward and Marion Island, otherwise known as the Prince Edward Islands. They’re the halfway point between SA and Antarctica.
What makes it unique: We couldn’t choose between these two, so you’re getting both: First of all, Marion Island is home to an active volcano – which last erupted in 2004. Secondly, the Prince Edward Islands are also part of Ward 116 of the Mother
The post These are the eight most beautiful islands of South Africa [photos] appeared first on The South African.