Don’t expect balmy Mediterranean seas in South Africa: of its 2500km of coastline, only the stretch along the Indian Ocean seaboard of KwaZulu-Natal and the northern section of the Eastern Cape can be considered tropical, and along the entire coast an energetic surf pounds the shore. In Cape Town, sea bathing is only comfortable between November and March. Generally, the further east you go from here, the warmer the water becomes and the longer the bathing season. Sea temperatures that rarely drop below 18°C make the KwaZulu-Natal coast warm enough for a dip at any time of year.

A word of warning: dangerous undertows and riptides are present along the coast and you should try to bathe where lifeguards are present. Failing that (and guards aren’t that common away from main resorts out of season), you should follow local advice, never swim alone, and always treat the ocean with respect.

Essentials

Everything you need to know before you set off.

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