Visiting the famous Cape Town penguins at Boulder Beach was one of the most magical experiences that I’ve had this year.

Getting up close and personal with them has been on my travel bucket list for ages.

After all, whose heart doesn’t melt at the sight of a bunch of penguins waddling around on the beach?

Not only are they totally adorable, but it’s super rare to get this close to African Penguins.

In fact, Boulders Beach is the only place in the world where you can get this close to them in the wild.

It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience you shouldn’t miss while you’re in South Africa.

So I was disappointed to find that there aren’t very many helpful in-depth guides about seeing them.

In fact, a lot of the best tips I found came from Instagram posts—and even those were a bit lacking.

Don’t worry though, I’ve set out to solve the problem by creating the ultimate guide to visiting the penguins, with all you need to know listed out below. 

Read on to find out everything you need to know about visiting the famous Cape Town penguins of Boulders Beach, including answers to lots of frequently asked questions.

Where to See the Penguins in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN PENGUINS AT BOULDERS BEACH SOUTH AFRICA

The famous Cape Town penguins call Boulders Beach home. 

It’s about a forty-minute drive from the city, and the only place in the world that you can get super close to African Penguins.

It’s home to roughly 2,500 penguins, so you’re guaranteed to see some while you visit.

Fun Fact: Okay, well, this time it’s really a not so fun fact, the African Penguins are on the endangered species list. The global decline of these birds is attributed to global warming, effects of oil spills and other marine pollution, habitat destruction, and over fishing.

How to Get to Boulders Beach From Cape Town

BOULDERS BEACH WELCOME SIGN CAPE TOWN PENGUINS

You’ve got a few different options for getting to Boulders Beach from Cape Town.

I’ve listed them out below so you can pick the one that works best for you.

Getting to Boulders Beach by Car

BOULDERS BEACH CAR PARK SIGN 2

This is how we got to Boulders Beach last month.

Obviously, renting a car abroad isn’t for everyone, but it was worth it since we had an incredibly scenic drive along Chapman’s Peak.

It took us about 45 minutes one way since we hit a bit of traffic. 

On our way home, it took closer to an hour and a half because we stopped a couple times to take photos along the coast, which I highly recommend doing because it’s epic!

Depending on the time of year you visit, you can get a car for roughly $25 a day.

Getting to Boulders Beach by Train

VIEW FROM BOULDER BEACH SWIM AREA

Head to the Cape Town train station and hop on the train to Kalk Bay. This should take just over an hour.

Once you arrive, you’ll just need to hop in an Uber for about 15 minutes to reach your destination. Depending on the time of day and traffic, the ride to Boulders Beach should be roughly $5.

You’ve also got the option of hopping the train to Fish Hoek, which should take about an hour and fifteen minutes. Once there, it’s just a ten minute Uber to the penguins.

Getting to Boulders Beach by Bus

PENGUIN COUPLE WALKING ON BOULDER BEACH

Shockingly, there isn’t really a great bus option for getting to Boulders Beach.

If you’re set on taking the bus, you can catch a sightseeing bus in front of the V&A Waterfront City Sightseeing office that goes to Mariner’s Wharf.

From there, you’ll need to hop in an Uber to go roughly another half hour to the beach, costing you about $15.

Overall, this is basically the worst way to get to Boulders Beach.

Getting to Boulders Beach by Cab

BOULDER BEACH CAPE TOWN

You’ve also got the option of hiring a cab or Uber, which will take just over an hour, and cost roughly $22 each way.

It’s definitely the easiest option, but just remember that sometimes with Ubers or cabs you’ll have a bit of a wait time to be picked up, especially if it’s a busy time of day.

The bonus is that you might be able to talk your driver into stopping off to take some photos along Chapman’s Peak.


Make things simple for yourself by booking a spot on this tour that includes the penguins!

How to Get Boulder Beach Tickets

SOLO PENGUIN ON BOULDER BEACH

It’s easy to grab tickets right at the entrance of the sanctuary. 

There’s different pricing depending on if you’re local or a tourist. South Africans pay R39 for adults and R20 for children under 12. 

Foreigners pay R152 for adults and R76 for kids under 12. With the current conversion rate at the time of publication, that works out to $2.22 for kids and $8.65 for adults.

They accept both cash and card.

The Best Time to Visit the Penguins at Boulder Beach

AFRICAN PENGUINS CHILLING AT BOULDERS BEACH CAPE TOWN

No matter what time of year you visit, there should be penguins around, however some times of year are more popular than others.

Visiting during the African spring/summer, which runs from October to March is a prime time to catch the penguins.

I was there in October and saw a bunch of penguins from the observation decks, but not that many hanging out on the actual public beach.

Another great time of year to visit is during peak breeding season, which typically happens between February to August, peaking between March and May.

Depending on which part of the season you visit, you might get to see them waddling out of the water and to feed the small babies in their nests on the beach.

PENGUINS ON THE BEACH CAPE TOWN PENGUINS

Either way, it’s best to plan your visit for either the morning or early evening, since that’s when the penguins are the most active.

If you want to avoid the crowds of tourists, your best bet is to go when they first open.

That’s what we did, and we noticed an enormous crowd gathering as we left in the early afternoon.

How to Take Photos With the Penguins at Boulder Beach

ALLY CAPE TOWN SELFIE WITH PENGUINS FROM LOOKOUT-3

After you buy your ticket, you’ll be able to choose between two walkways down to the observation areas on Foxy Beach.

This will take you to the main beach and nesting area that’s protected by the Table Mountain National Park.

It’s here that you’ll catch a ton of penguins waddling around the beach and playing in the water.

Pick the entrance on your left first, as when we were there it was far more crowded than the other because it lands you closer to where the enormous group of penguins chill.

You’ll get to watch them and take selfies with sizeable groups of them in the background.

AFRICAN PENGUINS PLAYING ON THE BEACH

Afterwards, double back and hit the second path to get to the other viewing platform.

When we were there, there were only maybe a dozen penguins hanging out near this area.

Keep an eye out as you’re going down the path because you’ll likely see some penguins chilling super close to the walkway—in fact, we saw one we swear was trying to make an escape through a broken bit in the fence.

After you’re done, head toward the gift shop.

Obviously, stop and browse for any souvenirs you may want.

Don’t worry, I’m getting to the part where you can take photos up close with the penguins.

Once you exit, hang a left on the pathway.

AFRICAN PENGUIN NEAR WALKWAY AT BOULDER BEACH CAPE TOWN

It will take you to Boulders Beach, and this is where you’ll get super close to these adorable birds.

Keep an eye out, you’ll likely see some penguins along this path.

In fact, this is the one spot you can technically see a penguin or two for free.

Once you get to Boulders Beach entrance, show your ticket to the guard, and you’ll have access to the beach.

If you’re lucky, you’ll see a few penguins chilling with the crowd. When we were there, we only saw two of them running around.

Now, here’s the secret, you need to walk across the beach, until you see the giant boulders at the end.

You’ll see a hole that’s just big enough to crouch through.

BOULDER BEACH BOULDER TO CLIMB UNDER TO FIND PENGUINS CAPE TOWN

Once you’ve made it to the other side, you’ll need to scale a couple boulders, and depending on the tide, wade through a bit of water or over a couple more rocks in order to get to the more private part of the beach.

Honestly, you’ve got to be really committed to get there—the two girls I was with ditched me when they saw the boulders we needed to climb up and over.

PENGUINS ON BOULDERS BEACH CAPE TOWN 2

It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but so worth it to see these endangered penguins up close. There were also way fewer people and way more penguins hanging out.

The blogger who explained to me how to get there told me to wear tennis shoes to make climbing the boulders easier, but honestly it was too much of a pain to keep taking them off every time I had to go through water.

So, I did the whole thing barefoot, and in a dress, and was totally fine—though I’d recommend not wearing a dress!

Another thing I regret, is not bringing our swimsuits and a picnic to enjoy the beach a bit more. The food in the area is definitely priced higher because it’s a touristy spot, so be ready to pay a bit more for lunch unless you bring your own food.

FAQs

How Much is It to See the Penguins at Boulders Beach?

PENGUIN COLONY BOULDER BEACH SOUTH AFRICA 2

Foreigners pay R152 for adults and R76 for kids under 12. With the current conversion rate at the time of publication, that works out to $2.22 for kids and $8.65 for adults.

South Africans can present ID and pay R39 for adults and R20 for children under 12.

The great thing is a big portion goes back to the preservation of the penguins and maintenance of the park.

Can You Swim With the Penguins at Boulders Beach?

PENGUINS WALKING ON BOULDER BEACH 2

Technically, you can swim with them at Boulders Beach.

However, it’s really going to depend on if there are any hanging out there the day you visit. Some days there’s more than others.

Either way, don’t touch or interact with them too closely, as they are endangered wild animals.

Can You Touch the Penguins at Boulders Beach?

PENGUINS RESTING BY THE WALKWAY

It’s forbidden to touch these endangered animals. Please don’t touch them or feed them food.

Also fair warning, they have very sharp beaks and will use them to defend themselves. The last thing you don’t want to have to explain that you’ve been attacked by a little penguin.

Is Boulders Beach Worth Visiting?

AFRICAN PENGUIN CAPE TOWN OULDERS BEACH

Absolutely, it was one of the most magical experiences I had while in Cape Town.

It’s an amazing experience for any age to see these adorable and endangered African Penguins.

Final Thoughts

ALLY WITH THE AFRICAN PENGUINS BOULDER BEACH CAPE TOWN SOUTH AFRICA

I’ve had so much fun writing this guide and reliving the amazing day I had visiting the Cape Town penguins.

In fact, I’m already planning another visit in hopefully next fall, since I’d love to take my tripod and get some proper photos with the penguins, since I had to attempt to take mine solo at the last second.

In fact, here’s one last piece of advice, if you’re relying on friends to help you take photos, make sure they’re willing to climb over massive boulders to help you get the shot. 

Otherwise, you’ll be like me and using your sneaker to prop up your phone in video mode to try capture a cute photo—after all, as a seasoned solo traveler, I’ve had to learn how to be resourceful when taking photos solo.

I hope this article has provided you with everything you wanted to know about planning your trip to Cape Town.

Let me know in the comments below if you need any more information!


Don’t miss out on these popular tours while you’re in Cape Town!

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