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Cape Town has some of the best beaches in the world to offer, so if you're a sand-and-sea lover be sure to take some time out to relax and soak up the sun. From the family beaches on the False Bay coastline to the trendy Clifton beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard - you're sure to find a stretch of sand that suits your fancy.
Atlantic Seaboard Beaches
The beaches of Camps Bay, Clifton and Llandudno that dot the Atlantic Seaboard are white and sandy offering beautiful views and spectacular sunsets. Although the water is very chilly, on a hot summer day it does make for a refreshing dip. These are generally the more 'trendy' beaches where many locals spend their weekends.
|Sheltered coves and azure waters at Clifton Beach on the Atlantic Seaboard|
Clifton Beach is made up of 4 coves and the beaches are called 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. When the summer south-easter blows, the Clifton beaches are usually well sheltered from the wind. All of the beaches are accessible via stairs leading down from the road above. In summer, plan to get to the beach early as parking is very limited. Generally 4th is the busiest in summer with good changing room and bathroom facilities. Kiosks on the beach sell snacks, colddrinks and ice-creams as do the many vendors that wander the beach. Deck chairs and umbrellas are also available for daily rental. If you're on a budget and plan on spending alot of time on the beach - buy your own umbrella as this will save you in the long-run. Clifton 4th is a Blue Flag beach.
Camps Bay is a long sandy beach accessed directly from the road. Again, parking in summer is limited and you may need to park along one of the many sideroads. The road behind the beach is lined with streetside cafes, restaurants and a few small grocery stores making snacks and lunch easily at hand. Kiosks and vendors also operate from the beach. Camps Bay is generally more family friendly as it is bigger and there is more space for games and sandcastles for children, and the young at heart. Deck chairs and umbrellas are available for daily rental.
Further along the coastline you will find the picturesque Llandudno beach - by far one of the most beautiful beaches and a favourite for sundowners. The houses that hug the steep road down to the beach have breathtaking views. Once again, parking is extremely tight in peak season and the beach is reached by a winding pathway. The sandy beach is flanked by rocks on either end - leading to smaller coves for those wanting to explore. This beach is slightly more remote with no shops and sadly poor bathroom facilities, but vendors do operate on the beach for snacks, drinks and ice-creams. Deck chairs and umbrellas are available for daily rental. There is often good surf for surfers and body-boarders.
|Picture perfect Llandudno Beach on the Atlantic Seaboard|
False Bay Beaches
The False Bay coastline is generally quieter and more laid-back than the trendy Atlantic beaches, but in peak-season these beaches too are very busy with holidaymakers. The water in the bay is much warmer and the shallow waters extend quite far making for safe and enjoyable swimming. Lifeguards are on duty at all major beaches and for safety will ask you to swim in designated areas.
|Colourful beach cottages and safe tidal pools at St James Beach on False Bay|
In its heyday in the 50's and 60's Muizenberg was a town of glitz and glamour. Today it has become a sleepy sea-side town although many of the elegant mansions of days past still adorn the mountainside. The sandy beach is extremely long offering plenty of space for fun and games and facilities are good. Behind the beach you will find a number of cafes as well as a Put-Put Course (miniature golf) and a few waterslides. The far end of the beach is popular with surfers. Between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek there are a couple of smaller beaches and tidal pools - ideal for exploring and offering safe swimming for children. These include St James beach and Dalebrook tidal pool. The Catwalk is an enjoyable 40-minute walk (one-way) between Muizenberg and St James Beach - just above the shoreline - and wanders past rockpools and crashing waves. Expect to get wet at high-tide.
Further along the coast towards Cape Point is Fish Hoek Beach a favourite with locals and a popular family beach. The long stretch of sandy beach is ideal for walking as is the walkway at the far end of the beach that wanders past rockpools and offers long views out to sea. There is a play area for children as well as a relaxed beachfront restaurant and take-aways and snacks are also available. Bring your own umbrellas and beach chairs. Good bathroom and changing facilities are available.
|Comical African Penguins at Boulders Beach near Simon's Town|
For a different sea-side experience, head to Boulders Beach just past Simon's Town. The beach forms part of a conservation area that is home to the African Penguin and wooden walkways have been constructed to view the penguins in their natural habitat. The beach itself is small and made up of a number of small coves surrounded by large boulders - if you get their early you may be able to claim your own private beach. Watch out though for the changing tides. Great for swimming and exploring - provided you don't mind coming face-to-face with a penguin or two! An entrance fee is charged and a small shop and restaurant can be found alongside the parking area at the top of the beach.
Originally a small fishing village, Hout Bay is now a favourite with visitors with its traditional harbour and many restaurants and curio shops. The beach is flanked by the harbour on one end and the cliffs of Chapman's Peak on the other. It's a favourite amongst windsurfers, paddleskiers and surfers and is ideal for walking.
|The 'Sentinal' peak stands guard over Hout Bay and its fishing harbour|
Noordhoek & Kommetjie
The scenic drive over Chapman's Peak will bring you to the long white stretch of sand at Noordhoek Beach. This beach is ideal for long walks and is also popular for horseback riding, surfing and kite flying. Further along is Kommetjie beach which is also popular with surfers and families.
NOTE: Chapman's Peak drive is currently closed until further notice.
|Miles of sandy beach at Noordhoek with Kommetjie Beach further along|
The popular beaches of Blouberg offer one of the most beautiful and most photographed views of Table Mountain across the sweeping bay. These beaches are popular with families and sports enthusiasts - surfing and kite-surfing in particular are very popular. Also ideal for long beach walks and evening sundowners and picnics. In season - the Blouberg beaches are also a great whale-watching viewpoint.
|The' signature shot' of Table Mountain taken from Bloubergstrand Beach|
Slightly further a field and approximately 45 minutes outside of Cape Town are the Helderberg region beaches of Strand, Gordon's Bay and Bikini Beach. This stretch of coastline offers spectacular views across False Bay with the Peninsula in the distance. Strand offers a long stretch of sandy beach with safe and shallow waters ideal for children while Gordon's Bay is set in a sheltered bay with rock pools to explore and a promenade for walks. Cafe's, restaurants and ice cream parlours are readily available along the adjacent beachside road. The sandy, white Bikini Beach is sheltered and popular for sunbathing.
|Bikini Beach in Gordon's Bay in the beautiful Helberberg region|
> The South African sun is strong and can be harsh - it is advisable to use sunblock at all times to avoid sunburn.
> Petty crime can be a problem on some beaches. Try to avoid taking valuables to the beach and don't leave items such as mobile phones unattended.
> Lifeguards are stationed on most major beaches. For your safety swim in designated areas and be aware that there are strong currents at some beaches.
> After a day of sun on Clifton Beach - head for La Med beach bar for sundowners and a light meal as well as great music.
> Llandudno and Blouberg are great beaches for sunsets and an evening picnic.
> Early mornings are great for a revitalising walk or jog on Fish Hoek beach - followed by a refreshing dip.