Cape Town’s Boulders Beach ranked second among world’s top 100 beaches

Penguin baywatch on Boulders Beach. Picture: Ian Landsberg/Independent Newspapers

Penguin baywatch on Boulders Beach. Picture: Ian Landsberg/Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 2, 2024


Add pictures of some of the beaches in the top 10.

Boulders Beach in Cape Town has been ranked second out of 100 beaches by BeachAtlas’ Golden Beach Awards 2024.

The Skeleton Coast in Namibia was ranked at number nine.

Historically, the quest for the world's best beaches zeroes in on their visual allure, powdery sands and clear blue waters.

This is the first time that the selection goes beyond the conventional, embracing a richer tapestry of what makes a beach remarkable, encompassing diverse criteria such as the value to the local community, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), lifestyle offerings, and cultural significance.

This broader perspective shines a light on those beach gems that typically don't make it onto traditional, unidimensional 'best beach' lists.

Building on this criteria, the selection process invited selected travel experts and influencers from around the world to cast their votes and help curate the list.

The criteria:

Classic beauty

Beaches that embody the traditional postcard-perfect image with fine golden sands, clear blue waters, and picturesque landscapes.

Party and lifestyle

Think Ibiza with its nightlife and energetic beach parties, or Dubai, epitomising beachside luxury with its exclusive resorts and upscale ambience.


Inclusive beaches that ensure every visitor feels represented and comfortable, regardless of their background, identity, or abilities.


Beaches like Copacabana in Brazil are integral to their cities' identities and social life. They are not just tourist attractions but places where local culture and community life flourish.

Natural diversity

This criterion celebrates the diversity of natural beachfronts, from lakes and riverbanks to unique formations. It also highlights the abundant flora and fauna, underlining the ecological richness of these environments.

Cultural significance

Beaches with historical importance or a strong presence in pop culture, including those immortalised in cinema. It highlights shores that have earned a cultural reputation that extends beyond their natural beauty.

These are the top 10 beaches;

1. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Dive into crystal-clear waters by day and snap postcard-perfect sunsets by night. Welcome to the ultimate paradise.

Bora Bora. Picture: BeachAtlas

2. Boulders Beach, South Africa

Boulders Beach in South Africa isn't just a picturesque stretch of sand; it's a bustling metropolis for the African Penguin. This unique spot allows you to chill on the beach while watching these tuxedo-clad locals waddle around, proving that beach bods come in all shapes and sizes.

3. Waikiki Beach, USA

Waikiki Beach in Hawaii whispers tales of gender diversity and indigenous heritage. Kapaemahu, four stones on this famed beach, stands as a tribute to four legendary mahu (third-gender individuals) who centuries ago brought healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii. The name Kapaemahu also honours the leader of these healers, who transferred their spiritual power to the stones before they vanished, embedding the stones with dual male and female spirits.

4. Copacabana, Brazil

Copacabana, Brazil. Picture: BeachAtlas

Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro, is a vibrant mix of Brazilian life, known for its busy, traditional vibe. It boasts a variety of bars, pubs, street fairs, and shops, catering to all tastes and budgets. The real charm of Copacabana is its stunning beaches and coastal views, which remain the main attraction for visitors. The neighbourhood offers a unique blend of urban energy and natural beauty, making it a must-visit destination.

5. Maya Bay, Thailand

Maya Bay, Thailand's showstopper, boasts clear blue waters, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful white sand. It's not just nature's masterpiece but also a Hollywood star, thanks to "The Beach" and Leonardo DiCaprio.

6. Black Sand Beach, Iceland

Black Sand Beach, Iceland. Picture: BeachAtlas

Reynisfjara, with its iconic black sand, is a testament to Iceland's volcanic heart. Formed by the clash of lava from the Katla volcano and the cold North Atlantic, its shores tell a story of natural forces. The beach is also home to stunning basalt columns, creating a landscape so surreal it has captured the imagination of filmmakers and fans of Game of Thrones, Vikings, and Star Trek.

7. Glass Beach, USA

Glass Beach in California is nature's masterpiece, where decades of discarded glass have been transformed by the ocean into a sparkling beach of colourful pebbles. The relentless polishing of the waves has turned this human waste into a stunning, jewel-like canvas, showcasing nature's power to reclaim and beautify.

8. JBR Beach, UAE

JBR Beach in Dubai blends city vibes with beach relaxation. With golden sands and clear waters, it offers water sports, camel rides, and more. The Walk, its lively promenade, features shops, eateries, and street entertainment. It's a perfect spot for those who love the beach but want the thrill of city life too.

9. Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Skeleton Coast, Namibia. Picture: BeachAtlas

Skeleton Coast, known as 'The Gates of Hell,' is a desolate stretch in Namibia where the Atlantic's Benguela Current meets the desert. Its eerie name derives from the whale skeletons and numerous shipwrecks scattered along its shores.

10. Omaha Beach, France

Omaha Beach, set in Normandy, France, is a historic WWII landing site from the D-Day invasion by Allied forces. Now peaceful, the beach still holds remnants of German bunkers, marking its storied past.