We compare the genetic structuring and demographic history of two sympatric caridean shrimp species with distinct life history traits, one amphidromous species Palaemon capensis and one marine/estuarine species Palaemon peringueyi, in the historical biogeographical context of South Africa. A total of 103 specimens of P. capensis collected from 12 localities and 217 specimens of P. peringueyi collected from 24 localities were sequenced for the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase one (CO1) locus. Results from analyses of molecular variance (AMOVA), pairwise φ ST comparisons and haplotype networks demonstrate weak to moderate genetic differentiation in P. capensis and P. peringueyi respectively. P. peringueyi exhibits partial isolation between populations associated with distinct biogeographic regions, likely driven by the region's oceanography. However, there is minimal evidence for the occurrence of discrete regional evolutionary lineages. This demonstrated lack of genetic differentiation is consistent with a marine, highly dispersive planktonic phase in both the amphidromous P. capensis and the marine/estuarine P. peringueyi. Bayesian skyline plots, mismatch expansions and time since expansion indicate that both species maintained stable populations during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), unlike other southern African aquatic species.