Secret Tips for Fascinating Encounter with Boulders Beach Penguin

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Boulders Beach Penguin is a must-add item to your Cape Town itinerary. This is probably the only (or one of the very few places) in the world where you can be on the beach with penguins.

It is also one of the few places in the world dedicated to a specific endangered animals (like Komodo National Park in Indonesia).

Despite the popularity for the African Big 5 ( lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and African buffalo), Cape Town is not the best place for the safari. If you are looking for basic safari experience, you can check out the Aquila game reserve. However, marine lives, especially the South African penguins are the best.

Sadly, most first-time tourists missed most of Boulders Beach in Cape Town. The most common mistake includes spending too little time with the penguins or not knowing you can get really close to them. This happens most of the time in local tours that include other attractions on the Cape Peninsula.

Others include not knowing the right time to visit or even the right places.

I bet you want to get the most from your visit to the lovely Boulder Beach penguins. For that, I have made a super detailed secret guide for visiting Boulders Beach Penguin. All you need to know about Boulders Beach in Cape Town, so you get all on your first visit.

Regulus Sitting With Boulders Beach Penguins
Sitting in the middle of the Boulder Beach Penguins
Regulus & his wife taking photo with a sleeping Boulder Beach Penguin
Close encounter with a sleeping Boulders Beach Penguin

What is Boulders Beach Penguin?

Boulders Beach Penguins are African penguins. They also have names like Cape penguin or South African penguin. On average African penguins weigh 2.2 – 3.5 kg with heights around 60 to 70 cm. Also, they have distinct pink patches of skin above their eyes making them easily recognizable amongst the penguin family.  

An interesting fact about Boulders Beach penguins is they have a very special braying sound (like a donkey). With that, they also have another name called Jackass penguin. Boulders beach penguins were first spotted in 1983 near False Bay. In 1910, there were more than 500 South African Penguins but now only around 3,000 left. It is an endangered species in the world.

Close shot of Boulders Beach Penguin
Close shot of Boulders Beach Penguin

How Far is Boulders Beach From Cape Town?

Boulders Beach is one of the few beaches with penguins located at Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula. It is around 41 km and a 50-minute drive from Cape Town City Center.

The easiest way to get to Boulders Beach is via Uber. Uber is very popular and cheap in Cape Town. The price is very reasonable at around 290 ZAR (~ 16 USD) from Cape Town City Center to Boulder Beach.  Please try to arrive before the opening hour of the beach to avoid any traffic.

Another way would be driving to Boulders Beach. There is free parking near Boulders beach but they will usually be full around noon. Considering the daily cost of driving on average is around 25 USD per day, Uber would be a better hassle-free option.

Screenshot of Uber price for 50 minute drive from Cape Town City to Boulders Beach
Screenshot of Uber price for 50 minute drive from Cape Town City to Boulders Beach

How Long To Spend At Boulders Beach

Each Boulder Beach ticket is valid for the whole day. With that, you have unlimited entry to both the boardwalks of Foxy Beach and Boulders Beach. The ticket is very cheap at 190 ZAR (~ 10.5 USD) for international Adults.

The ideal time for first-time visitors is 2 days and 1 night for Boulders Beach.


Because you would love to chill out with all the penguins at least twice on your trip to Cape Town. Also, there will be a lot of IGable pictures taking a chance. If you are really in a rush, I would recommend you spend at least half a day there from early morning to noon.

I will explain more in a later session. The best way to enjoy the most for your visit is to go for 1st Beach and Middle Beach via Boulders Beach first. Then visit the Boardwalks for Foxy Beach seeing that Boulders Beach penguin after 12:00 PM or so.

Regulus and his wife taking photos at Middle Beach
Early morning at Middle Beach is the best time to take photos with Boulders Beach Penguins

Is Boulders Beach Free?

No, unless you only want to visit the penguins near the Willis Walk. To get into Boardwalks for Foxy Beach or Boulders Beach, you will need to purchase a ticket.

You may refer to the official website for the latest price schedule . The prices for adults (12+ years) are 45 ZAR (~ 2 USD) for South African Citizens; 95 ZAR (~5.2 USD) for SADC Nationals; ZAR 190 (~10.5 USD) for International (non-South African Citizens). Children below 12 years old, will enjoy half price respectively.

Ticket Price Information At The Boulders Beach Visitor Center Entrance
Ticket price information at the Boulders Beach Visitor Center entrance

What time of year are penguins at Boulders Beach?

No worries, you can see the Boulders beach penguins throughout the year. In general, January is the best time, as most of the South African penguins would be molting on the beach. In contrast, September and October would be relatively low seasons, as the penguins spend a significant amount of time feeding in the sea. Even so, you shall still be able to see a reasonable number of African penguins at both Foxy Beach and Boulders Beach.

South African Penguins mating, molting and hatching eggs at Foxy Beach
South African Penguins mating, molting and hatching eggs at Foxy Beach

What is the best time of day to see the penguins in Boulders Beach?

Knowing the uniqueness of Boulders Beach, there are more than 60,000 visitors each year. The beach is especially crowded during peak hours from 12 PM to 4 PM each day. To enjoy the most of it, the best time of the day to see the penguins in Boulders Beach is to follow the below tips.

1.  Get into Boulders Beach at the opening hour

2.  Go straight to 1st Beach and Middle Beach

3.  Spend 3 hours or so photo taking with the Boulders Beach penguins

4.  You can visit Foxy Beach Boardwalks after completing Boulders Beach or go there one hour before closure.

You can find the maps of Boulders Beach below with the opening time.

Dec – Jan: 7 AM to 7:30 PM

Feb – Mar: 8 AM to 6:30 PM

Apr – Sep: 8 AM to 5 PM

Oct – Nov: 8 AM to 6:30 PM

Map for Boardwalks, Willis Walk, Boulders Beach
Map for Boardwalks, Willis Walk, Boulders Beach

Please note that you will need to climb a bit to go to 1st Beach from Boulders Beach. It is very important to go in the morning as it is the time when the tide is low and not many people there. Also you should get back to Boulders Beach from Middle Beach before high tide for safety.

Information for high tide and low tide at Boulders Beach entrance
Information for high tide and low tide at Boulders Beach entrance

Where to stay at Simon’s Town (Boulders Beach)?

As mentioned earlier, the common mistake first-time Cape Town visitors would make is to regard Boulders Beach as a mere checkpoint. There are a bunch of tours online that stuff everything for a tour of Cape Peninsula. I am not against it at all.

I even joined one of them during my visit to Cape Town. It is very important to know that due to the tight schedule, most of the tours would only allow you to spend 15 – 30 minutes at the Boardwalks of Foxy Beach. With that, you will not even know you could have been so close to the Boulders Beach penguin.

Instead of going back to Cape Town, I chose to stay in Simon’s Town for the penguin after those day tours. By staying in Simon’s town, I could visit the Boulders beach in the very early morning and take all the IGable photos.

There are several excellent accommodations there with reasonable prices. I chose to stay in Bonne Esperance, Simon’s Town via . It’s only around 5 minutes’ walk to Boulder’s beach equipped with a kitchen and spacious room. Staying there one night was only around 1,265 ZAR (~USD 70).

A cheaper choice would be staying in Cape Town City and taking an early Uber to Boulders Beach. However, considering the overall experience of chilling out with penguins and good rest at the accommodation, the best-valued option shall be staying in Simon’s Town.

Bonne Esperance, Simon’s Town, cozy spacious room with kitchen
Bonne Esperance, Simon’s Town, cozy spacious room with kitchen

Can You Walk On Boulders Beach? Or Even Swim?

Yes, you can walk on Boulders Beach and swim with the Boulders Beach penguins. At Boulders Beach, you can swim, walk, and picnic just like all the other beaches. As mentioned before, Boulders Beach is connected to 1st and Middle Beach. There, you are likely to find wild African penguins chilling on the beach. You can be very close to them and swim with them.

Beware you should not touch them and they will attack you if you get too close. Other than the close encounters with Boulders Beach penguins, you can also visit Boardwalks near Foxy Beach and the Willis Walk. For the Boardwalks, you can see the most penguins mating or molting at Foxy Beach. For the Willis Walk, you can see a lot of penguins in the bushes. Additionally, the Willis Walk does not require any ticket.

Photo of South African Penguin at Willis Walk, no ticket needed
Photo of South African Penguin at Willis Walk, no ticket needed

How to make the most of your African Penguin tour?

As a summary for the blog post, I would like to once again emphasize the uniqueness and worthiness of visiting the Boulder Beach Penguin. It is a very few (if not only) accessible places in the world where you can take selfies with these cute little creatures.

Boulder Beach Penguins in South Africa is worth a 2-day 1-night stay. Please find the summary of our secret guide for your visits.

There are three parts worth visiting for this icon. They are namely

1. Boardwalks where you can see the African Penguins colony on Foxy Beach. You will need to buy a ticket of 190 ZAR (~ 10.5 USD) (international Adult) to enter. The ticket is good for the whole day and also can be used for Boulders Beach. There is also another souvenir shop at the exit.

2. Willis Walk is the path connecting Boardwalks and Boulders Beach. You don’t need a ticket to walk on the path. Also, you can see the South African penguins nesting, chilling, and sleeping in the bushes.

3. Boulders Beach is the beach with penguins that you can get very close to. However, you would like to go to 1st Beach and Middle Beach during low tide where you can see most of the Boulders Beach Penguins. Remember do not touch the penguins as they may attack and you are subject to a fine of 500 ZAR (~ 27.7 USD). You will need a ticket to get inside, by either purchasing at the ticket office at the beach or the visitor center of Foxy Beach Boardwalks.

The recommended time to play through is to prioritize spending time at 1st Beach and Middle Beach with the penguins for the first 2 or 3 hours after opening. Then visit the Willis Walk and Boardwalks.

I really wish you could experience what I experienced with the penguins. Trust me it is going to be one of the best experiences in life. Remember to also travel Cape Town safe, check out here for the guide before you go.

Finally, please leave your comment for any inquiry about the Penguin experience or let us know your journey. Please find our super great photos to entice you to visit the Boulder Beach Penguins.

Boardwalk deck of Foxy Beach
Boardwalk deck of Foxy Beach
Enjoying sunshine with Boulders Beach Penguins
Enjoying sunshine with Boulders Beach Penguins
South African Penguin hatching their eggs
South African Penguin hatching their eggs
Penguins chilling at the 1st Beach
Penguins chilling at the 1st Beach
Regulus kissing his wife with Boulder Beach penguins presence
Tell me your story with Boulder Beach Penguins

Regulus K

A budget travel blogger passionate about exploring different destinations worldwide, while balancing a regular 9-to-5 job.


  1. […] For a complete guide to getting the most from Boulders Beach, you may refer to our post dedicated to the cute penguins. […]

  2. […] Want more (and closer) animal encounter ? I highly recommend you to check out my comprehensive guide for visiting the South African penguins. […]

  3. […] town is one of the wealthiest areas in Cape Town. It is also where you will find the penguin colony at Boulders Beach. On top of that, CCID officers are also on duty in the area near Boulders Beach. With that, you […]

  4. Penguin is nice penguin is cute

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