Cape Town’s beaches are amongst the cleanest and most beautiful to be found anywhere in the world. They provide a retreat from the stresses of the city for locals and a scenic draw card for the thousands of visitors who flock to our shores each year in search of fun and relaxation.South Africa was the first country outside of Europe to have blue flag beaches, which signifies a high level of water quality, facilities, cleanliness and safety. There are three blue flag beaches in and around Cape Town. These are Clifton Beach, Mnandi Beach and Bikini Beach at Gordon’s Bay right out on the eastern side of False Bay. There are loads of beaches to choose from and you’ll need a bit of inside info to end up on the right one.
For starters, there is the western and eastern side of the peninsula – divided by a 1,000m-high mountain so you could have totally different weather within twenty metres. And, naturally, the sea conditions can differ widely – dead flat calm on one side and crashing waves on the other. Generally speaking, those on the western side are more sophisticated and fashionable, while the eastern side is more popular with local families who don’t want to drive too far from the sprawling low-rent suburbs on the Cape Flats.
The water temperature is usually between about 10°C and 14°C on the Western Seaboard and between about 12°C and 17°C on the False Bay side.The eastern side is more like the western seaboard, with the water temperature a few degrees colder than the eastern side. It’s a rocky shore, with a few beaches, mainly, which has great surf but is not a great swimming beach, and more family friendly beaches at Gordon’s Bay and Strand. Bikini beach, at Gordon’s Bay, is one of Cape Town’s three Blue Flag Beaches. Also on the eastern shore of False Bay is Strand, which is a great family beach.
Muizenberg Beach, situated in the corner where the rather wild northern shore meets the rocky but well populated eastern side of the peninsula, is a long family-friendly beach where almost every Cape Town surfer first learned to surf and where our volunteers spend most of their time teaching kids to surf. It’s pretty crowded, loads of kids, families, dogs and noise. There are all the usual facilities, like showers, and coffee shops close by. There is a useful walkway from Muizenberg to St James, just on the seaward side of the railway line. Muizenberg is one of the most racially integrated of Cape Town’s beaches, with a good sample of the whole spectrum of the rainbow nation. St James Tidal Pool and beach is usually very crowded in summer and is not a particularly restful experience, but the nearby Danger Beach is much quieter and is frequented almost exclusively by local residents.
Fish Hoek Beach stretches for just over a mile at the head of a beautiful bay. Fish Hoek often has a nice little wave and it’s very popular with young surfers. From the southern end of the beach another one of those great walkways hugs the southern end of the bay. It’s a great walk, especially in whale season, and there are lovely tidal pools. Long Beach, Simon’s Town is not very long at all and should not be confused with the other Long beach.
Boulders is the most fabulous swimming beach in Cape Town – if not the world. Huge boulders create sheltered little coves and the resident penguins often swim past for a look at the people. This is a pay beach in season.
Hout Bay Beach stretches from the other end of Chapman’s Peak to the Hout Bay Harbour with its numerous fishing boats and yacht marina. Hout Bay beach is a great family beach, but it’s also popular with horse riders, dog walkers and kayakers.
Sandy Bay, which can only be reached by walking along the coast from Llandudno, is Cape Town’s official/unofficial nudist beach. Llandudno is one of those beautiful beaches that seem to have it all. It’s one of the most popular sundown picnic spots in Cape Town. Llandudno is also one of Cape Town’s most desirable residential areas.
One of the few beaches on the Western Seaboard that is not protected from the south east wind, Camps Bay Beach is still very popular and quite frenetic with families, stylish singles, tourists. It’s a long-ish beach, backed by a row of palm trees, a busy road and a bank of fashionable restaurants and coffee shops that overlook the beach. It’s a great sunset spot.
The iconic Clifton with its four beaches – rather unimaginatively named 1st,2nd, etc. But that’s where the lack of imagination ends. Actually – the bathing costumes usually seen on Clifton don’t require much in the way of imagination either but this is the premier beach in Cape Town – make that in South Africa – and it’s probably one of the top ten or twenty most fashionable beaches in the world. Beautiful people fly from all around the world to see and be seen and to strut their gorgeous lithe bodies against the backdrop of the unbelievably turquoise water dotted with gleaming white yachts.
Sea Point is more ocean front that beach, the Sea Point Promenade is a lovely long walkway right near the sea that is often frequented by joggers, dog walkers, families, and senior citizens taking advantage of the perfect walk way.