Cape Town has a diverse (and spectacular) selection of beaches dotted along its Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastlines, each with its own distinct personality and top attractions. Here are some of our favourites.
Top 5 Atlantic Ocean Beaches
Clifton: Beaches 1 – 4
Who goes there Locals from nearby luxury apartments hang at 1st beach, 2nd attracts everyone (including a sizeable gay contingent), a trendy young set makes 3rd beach the most lively, while 4th beach is the most family-oriented.
Best for Sunbathing and people-watching. Only the really brave dip more than their toes into the freezing water.
Take Umbrellas and lounge chairs can be rented, and soft drinks and ice cream are sold by garrulous vendors. Bring a book, some bats or a frisbee to keep you entertained, and a light lunch, as the nearest restaurant is a steep flight of stairs away.
Where to find it Clifton Beaches
Fire-dancers, drummers, belly-dancers and martial-arts capoeira dancers entertain crowds on 2nd Beach on Monday nights throughout the summer. As evening descends, locals on 4th Beach light candles until the whole beach is full of hundreds of tiny flickering flames.
Image credit: Suikerbossie
Who goes there Groups of friends, families with young children.
Best for A private braai at the beach with family and friends – the facilities are amazing.
Take R30 (pp entrance), firewood, something to braai, vino (they’ll let you BYOB if you promise to be discreet).
Where to find it Oudekraal
Bloubergstrand: Big Bay and Little Bay
Who goes there Big Bay hosts surfing and windsurfing contests, so expect to be surrounded by Surfer Dans and Beach Bettys. Little Bay is better suited to sunbathers and families.
Best for Surfing and body-boarding (if the Southeaster isn’t blowing), wind- and kite-surfing, cocktails along the beachfront and stunning views of Table Mountain and Robben Island.
Take If there’s no wind, take SPF, a hat and all the entertainment you require (in the way of bats, a book and a frisbee etc). And a camera or smartphone for tweeting or posting pics to Facebook – how else will your friends know where you are.
Where to find it Big Bay beach and Little Bay beach
Who goes there Mostly locals and surfers, so if you’re not keen for the hustle and bustle of the tourist hotspots, this low-key beach will suit you down to the ground.
Best for Surfing, safe swimming, cray-fishing, and boating (safe slipway).
Take An umbrella and lounge chairs, then lunch afterwards at one of the beachside restaurants – all of which specialise in seafood and have lovely views of the ocean.
Where to find it Melkbos beach
Image credit: Fine Art America
Who goes there Families and doggie people.
Best for Walking pooches, horseback-riding, views of a 1900s shipwreck, chilled sunbathing – it’s less crowded than the more popular beaches.
Take Someone with you. Despite patrollers on horseback and an all-terrain vehicle, it’s a favourite among pickpockets (and there’ve been reports of a mugging incident or two).
Where to find it Noordhoek Beach
Top 5 Indian Ocean beaches
Image credit: Fine Art America
Who goes there Local families, pooch owners and beginner surfers.
Best for Swimming, the “long walks on the beach” that people on online-dating sites always refer to (on a picturesque stone path, known as the Catwalk, which connects Muizenberg to St. James). And if you’re not afraid of the sharks, surf shops offering lessons, rental boards and wetsuits line the beachfront.
Take Your board and wetsuit to work up an appetite, then grab lunch at one of the festive eateries lining the promenade.
Where to find it Muizenberg beach
Image credit: Lawrence Hilton
Who goes there Beginner surfers and low-key beach lovers.
Best for Picnics and unwinding. The sun sets at around 5pm, so make it an early one.
Take Everything. This secluded beach is beautiful, but has few amenities, so remember your umbrella and lounge chair.
Where to find it Danger Bay
Image credit: Gale McAll
Who goes there Families
Best for Snorkelling, diving, fishing and long swims – in the beautifully calm water. The views are fantastic.
Take The beach is at the foot of a steep(ish) hill and can only be reached by foot, so travel light, but make sure you have your towel, umbrella and snacks – you don’t want to scale the mountainside unnecessarily for something you forgot in the car!
Where to find it Smitswinkel Bay beach
Image credit: Vic Duggan
Who goes there Pensioners, families and doggie types.
Best for Swimming in the calm water, games (there’s loads of space), Sunday strolls, wahle-spotting during season.
Take Beach games and a picnic basket. There is a restaurant and coffee shop on the far side of the beach if you forget to bring snacks and drinks.
Where to find it Fish Hoek beach
Who goes there Families with young children, tourists, couples.
Best for Penguin-spotting, swimming (this is about as warm as you’ll get in Cape Town) and Southeaster-free sunbathing.
Take R45 (adults entrance) and R20 (children up to 11 years).
Where to find it Boulder’s Beach