It’s a bit surreal to see penguins sunbathing on a beach… Boulders Beach, South Africa

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100 comments

  1. I remember coming here 15 years ago with no gates and no walkways that you had to pay for. Penguins still roaming the streets, it was fantastic. It has been ruined by tourism. My favorite was being able to go snorkeling among those massive boulders and having the penguins swarm around me. Such a shame that tourism has ruined such a special South African treasure. But hey, cool pic bro(-ette).

      1. It is very cool but knowing sharks are about kinda put a layer of tension on the experience when I snorkelled there many years ago…

    1. There are still other places in SA to hang out with penguins that haven’t been overtaken with tourism.

        1. Please no. The last thing Cape Town’s unspoilt beaches need is tourists messing around unsupervised with the ecosystems.

          1. I mean if this was on the front page I’d kind of get it but I hardly think passing off some helpful information to in a travel subreddit would do that, but fair enough. I only asked by chance as I’m heading there in January.

          2. Take the short ride to Betty’s Bay penguin colony. Its much larger. Plus you have rock Dassies to watch up close. The scenery and landscapes are awesome. Also, drive Chapmans pass on the way down to Cape Point if you go.

    2. And were you a tourist 15 years ago or do you live on the beach?

      Should the beach remain for the sole use of you and the penguins?

      1. The way tourist spots are treated now a days seems a far cry from 15 years ago. Maybe it’s more people, maybe it’s lack of caring about the spot but they get torn up and degraded of time. Hanuama Bay in Hawaii used to be this jaw dropping fish infested coral reef when I was a kid. The state of the bay these days makes me want to cry.

        1. That “state” is due to years of damage and neglect, it’s not a case of the last five years. You’ll find more is done to protect sites nowadays and more care is taken to try to offset the damage done over years of tourism.

          I was at Boulder Beach 13 years ago, when I was 7 and there was not a whole lot of responsible tourism going on, if anything I’m surprised boulder looks as good as it does now.

          1. It looks that good precisely because of the restrictions and infrastructure the original commenter is bemoaning.

      2. /u/swisscheeseeffect I’m South African, I grew up 30 minutes from there.

        Should the beach be bombarded with clueless tourists that brought a culture of bombarding profit seekers with them??

        Stick to what you know, seemingly this would be swisscheese, like your point would also suggest. Full of holes.

      3. In contrast, I’m a South African who welcomes the tourists whose interest will ensure the survival of these birds.

        Can’t stand the assholes who bitch about the tourists helping economies and finding out more about their countries.

        We have loads of penguin free beaches for this princeling to tan his entitlement on.

    3. I don’t quite agree with your sentiment about this particular issue. Yes tourism can ruin a place and I know it very well coming from a small touristy island.
      Only the beach side is payable and the walkway is still free. I have also seen people body board next to the penguins

    4. Tourism hasn’t ruined it, and if anything those walkways and rails are the only thing keeping the penguin colonies alive. It’s still a very secluded area and snorkeling is very much possible, just not around the penguins – which makes a lot of sense ecologically. This colony is the only such one in Africa, and needs to be protected.

    5. What I was there last year, it’s hardly ruined. If anything the gates are keeping the nesting site safe from human interaction, and there’s a beach five minutes away with way better snorkeling.

    6. It must have been cool to see without the walkway, but I wouldn’t want to be _too_ exposed to the penguins. For their safety and mine (I hear they bite!).

  2. I was just there this summer! This is literally my background on my phone. Great trip, definitely worth it.

  3. Awesome pic!

    I’m currently on vacation here in Simon’s Town, but haven’t actually visited boulders, yet . . . partly because I have penguins ON MY VERANDAH! So sitting here and drinking wine, watching penguins in my yard, I can’t seem to pull myself away . . .

    1. It’s a cool little town. We were only there for the day, but we stopped into a small cafe named Lighthouse Cafe. Wish we could have hung out there for longer. Have fun while you’re there!

  4. They do this in southern Australia too – I was wondering why someone would think it was ‘surreal’, but I guess most people on here are Northern Hemisphereites (is that a word?)

      1. Yeah it depends on the species. Some penguins, especially the big ones like Emperor Penguins, mostly stay down in Antarctica. But some come up to the southern coasts of Africa, Australia etc.

  5. It’s rare that I see a post I know things about!

    These are African black-footed penguins (known locally as Jackass penguins due to the vocalizations they make resembling a braying donkey.) As some people have mentioned, they are one of many warm weather species of penguins. I work with these little ones at an AZA institution! They are loud and smelly and kind of grumpy but also cute and expressive and awesome.

    Currently they face extinction because unlike the birds in this photo, the majority of their population resides on beaches that are within close proximity to people. They face challenges due to pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and climate change. Many birds are killed every year due to oil spills leaving many eggs and small chicks abandoned.

    If you’re ever interested in helping out, remember to reuse plastics as much as possible and properly recycle what you no longer need. Avoid plastic bags and disposable straws and most most MOST importantly use your power to vote for legislation that regulates offshore drilling and promotes clean energy sources!

    Edit: Speckles says HI
    https://imgur.com/7gNAmdc

      1. Completely true. Very bitey when you’re near nests but considering humans have demolished about 98% of their population in the past century, I’d say it’s warranted.

        1. Oddly i wasn’t. Apparently i share the same criteria for sun bathing rocks as South African birds – ones that have a good view of South African birds (admittedly different types 😉 )

  6. I was just there! Like literally walked in your exact same footsteps and took some pics as well of course. Took that hop-on-hop-off bus for the peninsula tour with this as one of the stops. Just got back on the 1st. <3 Cape Town

    1. You’re generally not allowed into their habitats, but the ones that scamper up onto the walkways are surprisingly aggressive.

        1. We’ve released a couple of them through Sanccob a couple times and man those little fuckers could be so ungrateful.
          I forgot to add that they go for the ankles.

          1. Such jackasses! Oh wait…

            *The African penguin, also known as the jackass penguin and black-footed penguin is a species of penguin, confined to southern African waters.*

            Yeah they make up for cuteness with pure rage.

          2. it’s the humidity even they hate it lol. seriously though there just more aggressive the ones in the warm weather regions.

  7. I had the same experience with pigs (actually hogs given their size) on a beach in Mexico. It was very much a which of these things don’t belong moment.

    1. Can confirm, they’re awesome to look at and a great display of nature, but they’re really loud and smelly, and quite aggressive sometimes.

  8. Are they there year round? I love penguins and am heading to South Africa in January! I’d love to see them in the wild

  9. I’ve been there. The penguins, however relaxed they look, are on guard. I walked towards a group of them for pets and the random pile split into groups of four, each with their backs towards each other with one facing me, waddling away in unison from my completely smitten adoration.

  10. Adjacent to this beach is a walkway through the forest, and there are quite a few of these penguins making their homes in both natural and man-made burrows there.

    Forest penguins! It was so cool to visit this place…we came back to see the penguins twice while we were in this area in June.

    Also, there were a lot of penguin chicks there then, standing nearly as tall as their parents but all covered with a fluffy down that made look as fat and adorable as you can imagine. The chicks gather in groups called crèches, little piles of cuteness.

  11. Been there very recently. Fun watching them go for a catch and coming out of the sea and shaking their bodies to dry up. Lovely place.

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