Boulders Beach Penguin Sanctuary – Cape Town, South Africa - Atlas Obscura

Boulders Beach Penguin Sanctuary

This African beach is home to thousands of rare mainland penguins that are known for their annoying voice. 


One of the only remaining homes to the rare African penguin, the Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony allows visitors to get up close and personal with the strange, prehistoric birds that seem right at home despite their generally Arctic reputation. 

This beautiful beach is the home of over 2,000 endangered African penguins, and one of the few mainland penguin colonies in the world. The African penguin was long known as the “Jackass penguin” due to its grating, braying chirp. However the world is apparently big enough for two varieties of penguin with the same horrible voice, and the colorful term is now used to describe a species of penguin found in South America.

The Boulders Beach birds, while endangered, were actually growing as a population in the 1990’s as they bred on the scenic beaches and migrated in from other nearby colonies. However the booming population became a public hazard as the noisy birds started tearing up gardens and annoying neighbors. The park was subsequently fenced off and made into a national park.  

The beach is public (with an entrance fee) and the penguins roam freely, so you can spend the day mingling (even swimming) with these amazing creatures. If you prefer to keep your distance, they can also be viewed from several boardwalks surrounding Boulders Beach.

Know Before You Go

Boulders Beach has three different sections and the part where you can swim is located on the opposite side to the one with the boardwalks. If you want to swim, make sure to come at low tide, as beach space depends on the tides. Do not touch and feed the penguins when you visit any Cape Town beaches.