Experience the wild beauty of Agulhas National Park at the southern tip of Africa. Read on for things to do and accommodation.
Cape Agulhas National Park surrounds the southernmost tip of Africa. It’s just under 3 hours drive from Cape Town. From Cape Town, take the 2 Highway to Caledon. Turn off in the centre of town along the R316 and continue past Napier to Bredasdorp. In this small town turn right again on the R319 all the way to Struisbay and Cape Agulhas National Park. If you need a good road map for this trip, see our recommendations.
Cape Agulhas National Park Map
Tips for Agulhas National Park
- Check-in for accommodation within Agulhas National Park opens at 2 pm.
- The entrance price to Agulhas National Park is R50/25 per adult/child for locals and R200/100 for foreigners. It’s free for WildCard holders.
- Find the best books to read while in South Africa.
- If you enjoy Agulhas, check out de Hoop Nature Reserve, a coastal wilderness full of birds and animals.
Weekend Road Trip from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas National Park
We set off on Friday evening from Cape Town and that night stayed at Pascal’s of Napier*. This is in the town of Napier, roughly 2 hours drive away. Napier isn’t a very big town, but it’s pleasant strolling along the main street and you can visit the big church.
The next morning, the drive was about 50 minutes until the entrance to Cape Agulhas National Park. After spending Saturday and Sunday mornings in the park we drove to the village of Arniston. From there the drive back to Cape Town was about 2hr45.
Both ways, the Houw Hoek Farm Stall is a great place to break the journey, about 1hr15 from Cape Town. They sell their famous Houw Hoek pies, along with a lot of other local produce and there’s also a small cafe.
Things to do in Agulhas National Park
Unlike many National Parks in South Africa, there aren’t many animals at Cape Agulhas. However, there are quite a few sea birds and some nice fynbos vegetation. There are still many things to do in the park, and roughly two days is a good amount of time to spend here.
- Visit the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse
- Head to the southernmost point of Africa
- Check out a shipwreck
- Go on a hike
- Swim in the lagoon
- Study the geology of the park
- Visit Arniston, a small fishing village 45 minutes drive from the park.
1. Cape Agulhas Lighthouse
The Cape Agulhas Lighthouse is just inside the park. You can walk up the lighthouse but there are lots of ladders! There is also a small museum on the ground floor, with lots of information about lighthouses. Both this one and others from around South Africa.
From the lighthouse, you can walk a short distance to the southernmost point.
2. The southernmost tip of Africa
Visiting the southernmost point of Africa is the top thing to do in Cape Agulhas National Park. There’s a sign stating it’s the southernmost point, and it’s also the meeting point of the warmer Indian and colder Atlantic Oceans. You can’t see the oceans mixing or anything, as they intermingle with each other over a zone of many kilometres. There’s also a super cool quasi-3D topographic map of Africa. You can see the Drakensberg sticking out in the photo above.
3. Visit a shipwreck
You can see a shipwreck from fairly recent, 1982, along the coastline in Agulhas National Park. It’s the wreck of the Meisho Maro No. 38, a Japanese fishing boat that ran aground here. The crew of 17 all managed to swim safely to the shore.
4. Go on a hike
There are several nice hikes within the park. The best hike starts from the lighthouse and takes roughly 3 to 4 hours. It includes the lighthouse, the southernmost point of Africa and the shipwreck, as well as views over the oceans. See our hike report for more details.
The Two Oceans Hiking Trail is another nice hike, 11 km through indigenous fynbos. There are also views over the ocean and you can see old fishing traps in the water. The hike starts from the Agulhas National Park Rest Camp.
5. Swim in the lagoon
The lagoon at Cape Agulhas is super beautiful – so calm and protected by rocks from the stormy waves outside. The lagoon is just a short walk to the sea from the chalets at the rest camp. Although it looks lovely, it’s actually pretty cold to swim in, so treat it as a refreshing dip. Don’t try and swim in the real ocean outside of the lagoon. It’s very rocky and the waves are very powerful.
6. Study the Geology of Cape Agulhas
The lines at different angles on the boulder in the ocean are called cross-bedding. This rock probably formed from sand dunes. The layers of sand in a sand dune get deposited at an angle. These layers get preserved in different directions as the sand dune migrates layers get deposited in a new direction.
Wavy lines in the rocks above show that they have undergone some deformation, or squishing. Rocks are normally laid down horizontally, but when they get squished, they crumple up just like other materials.
7. Arniston Fishing Village
The fishing village of Arniston is a very cute town and there are several places to stay* if you don’t want to stay in the park.
Our first stop was lunch at Mien’s Tea Garden*. The restaurant was small and cute, with nice views of little fishing cottages. It is an ideal place to eat some locally caught and very fresh fish in the rural atmosphere of the fishing village. You can park just outside the restaurant.
Driving Route from Agulhas National Park to Arniston
If you check this route on google, it will send you via some dirt roads. If you want to avoid driving on dirt, head into Bredasdorp on the R319. Then head back out to Arniston on the R316. For a great map that usefully shows which roads are dirt, get the Tracks4Africa South Africa Map*.
Walking in Arniston Village
There are two short strolls you can do in Arniston to explore the town and surrounding coastline.
You can explore the cute cottages, fishing boats and sand dunes next to the village on this village walk. To start the walk, park near the cliffs above the harbour, in front of the Arniston Spa Hotel*.
There’s some lovely coastline nearby where you can fish or go on a short walk to watch the birds. Common birds here include the rare African Black Oystercatcher. Get a bird guide* to identify all the different species! In this area is the famous Waenhuiskrans Cave (Wagon House Cliff Cave). You can only visit at low tide. This cave is famous because apparently it’s big enough for a wagon with its full span of oxen to turn around in.
Accommodation in and around Agulhas National Park
Agulhas National Park Rest Camp
The accommodation in the park is all in Agulhas National Park Rest Camp. There is no camping in Agulhas National Park. To get to the rest camp you have to drive roughly 15 minutes along a good dirt road. It’s in a really beautiful location by the coast and it feels very remote and wild.
Chalets at Agulhas National Park
Most of the accommodation in the rest camp is in chalets, either 2 or 4-bedded. The chalets are beautifully designed and smell of roof thatch. They all have a nice deck with a braai. From the deck you have views of the waves crashing in on the ocean, and you can also watch the sunset. They are equipped with everything you need for a braai except wood, which you can buy at the reception. The chalets also all have a wooden fireplace inside and a cute Agulhas National Park tea set.
There is one larger house right next to the ocean and it can accommodate up to 8 people. It’s an old, historic building but it’s been wonderfully renovated and is full of character.
Accommodation outside the park
If you don’t want to stay in the park itself, there are plenty of cheaper options nearby the small villages of L’Agulhas and Struis Bay*. Or if you want to base yourself further afield, Arniston has several accommodation options*. If you want to camp, there are caravan parks both in L’Agulhas and Struis Bay, only a few minutes from Agulhas National Park.
Guidebooks to explore more of South Africa
I hope you enjoyed our guide to Cape Agulhas National Park in South Africa. There are several other great places to explore not so far away along the Garden Route, such as de Hoop Nature Reserve or Ebb & Flow Rest Camp in Wilderness. For more hikes and activities, check out our Guide to South Africa.
FAQS: Cape Agulhas National Park
The entrance price to Agulhas National Park is R50/25 per adult/child for locals and R200/100 for foreigners. It’s free for WildCard holders.
You can definitely swim in Cape Agulhas, though it might be a bit cold. The best place is in the gorgeous turquoise-blue lagoon, completely sheltered from the rough waves beyond.
Cape Agulhas includes the most southern point of the African continent, making it pretty special. It’s also a protected area with a wild, rocky coastline and sweeping beaches, so definitely a place worth visiting.
There is no campsite within Agulhas National Park.