Cape Town has a diverse and spectacular selection of beaches dotted along its Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastlines, each with their own distinct personalities and top attractions. Here are some of our favourites.
Important note Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crime and accidents do happen.
Those venturing onto beaches, secluded or otherwise, should keep their wits about them – never leaving valuables unattended and always going in a group or with another person. Should anything go wrong, criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station or local security patrol as soon as able. Any emergency and/or distress calls regarding drowning can be reported to the 107 emergency number from a Telkom line. Cellphone users need to dial (021) 480 7700.
The crowd Surfers, groups of friends, families, and tourists.
Best for Frisbee, beach bats, runs on beach, and surfing.
Chill factor Lose-feeling-in-the legs cold! You have to be super-brave to endure the freezing water, but once in, the refreshment factor is unbeatable.
Bring Beach equipment, and a picnic for the day, as there are no shops or restaurants in Llandudno.
Afterwards, head to Hout Bay and visit the Bay Harbour Market for a browse, beer and bite to eat at one of the many delectable food stalls. If markets aren’t your thing, go for a late lunch or dinner at Lucky Bao.
Please note No dogs are allowed on the beach between 9am until 6pm, from 1 November 2018 until 31 March 2019.
Where to find it Victoria Road, Llandudno, Cape Town
2. Clifton Beaches 1 – 4
The crowd 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.
Chill factor Like we said, the ocean is freezing. But, on the rare occasion, or after a very hot day, you may be able to take the plunge.
Bring 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.
Afterwards, head to The Bungalow Restaurant and Lounge for cocktails, seafood, and laidback beats. It’s just up the stairs from Clifton 4th, and only a short walk down the main road if you’re coming from the other beaches.
Where to find it Victoria Road, Cape Town
3. Boulders Beach
The crowd 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.
Chill factor Like we said above, the crystal clear shallow water is sheltered from the wind, making for warmer-than-usual dips.
Bring Cash for the entrance fee (R75, adults; R40, children), as well as your camera or smartphone to snap pics of the scenic pools and playful penguins.
Afterwards, head to One of Simon’s Town’s many restaurants, including The Meeting Place, Bertha’s, the Lighthouse Café and more, for a post-beach coffee or bite to eat.
Where to find it Boulder’s Beach
4. Beta Beach at Bakoven
The crowd Families, couples, influencers (sigh), and young groups of friends. It’s also become a very popular spot for photo shoots, so don’t be surprised if you spot one taking place on the rocks.
Best for Since there are no waves, the water is perfect for snorkelling, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and shallow dips. Sheltered from the wind, the bay is the place to be when the nasty southeaster picks up.
Chill factor It depends when you go, as the mornings mean the shallow plunge pools are covered in shade, making the water icy! The afternoon is much better for swimming, as the water is more on the refreshing side, as opposed to limb-numbing.
Bring If you’re the active type, bring along a paddleboard, a kayak or your snorkelling equipment, as the clear, still water makes it easy to spot the marine life. Pack yourself a bag of snacks as there’s only one place to eat nearby.
Afterwards, head to Bootlegger Bakoven, a short walk up the hill from the beach, for a late breakfast, lunch, freshly squeezed juice or hot brewed coffee.
Where to find it 7 Beira Road, Bakoven, Cape Town
5. Glen Beach
The crowd Dog walkers, surfers and body boarders, Atlantic Seaboard locals.
Best for Walking the dogs, morning dips, surfing, and whole-day of fun in the sun without the wind, or crowds!
Chill factor More bearable than its Clifton neighbours, but still quite chilly.
Bring Your dog, surfboard, or just a towel and umbrella.
Afterwards, head to The Camps Bay strip for afternoon cocktails and a bite to eat at one of the many buzzing trendy haunts. We love Bilboa and the 12A Sushi Bar at The Twelve Apostles.
Where to find it Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town
The crowd Groups of friends, families with young children.
Best for A private braai at the beach with family and friends – the facilities are amazing.
Chill factor Much like the other beaches along the Atlantic strip, the water is pretty nippy. That said, it’s slightly more bearable than its icy counterparts.
Bring Cash for the entrance fee (R40, adults; R25 children) and, if you have one, your My Green Wild Card will get you in for free. Also, pack firewood, something to braai, and vino (they’ll let you BYOB if you promise to be discreet).
Afterwards, head to The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa for a late lunch, sushi sundowners, a luxurious spa treatment or high tea to warm the bones after a cold dip.
Where to find it Oudekraal, on the coastal road between Camps Bay and Llandudno
7. Long Beach, Kommetjie
The crowd Surfers, families, Kommetjie locals, tourists.
Best for Surfing, sunbathing, sunset walks, and walking your dogs (off the lead!)
Chill factor Pretty cold, ironically the water is warmer in winter; however, only the braver beach-goers venture in for a dip.
Bring Sunscreen, as the sun’s reflection off the white sand can cause a nasty burn (even under an umbrella).
Afterwards, head to Neighbouring Noordhoek for an ice cream at Kristen’s Kick Ass Ice Cream, or a delectable dinner at The Foodbarn. And, if you’re at the beach on a Thursday, head to the Noordhoek Community Market for a delicious glass of vino and a tasty bite overlooking breathtaking sunset views.
Important note The stretch of beach between Noordhoek and Kommetjie has seen an increase in criminal activity in recent times, including several reports of violent incidents. Visitors are urged to be cautious and alert if they choose to travel through this area. You can contact Komwatch on 082 327 7783 for more information.
Where to find it Surfway Road, Kommetjie, Cape Town
The crowd Local families, pooch owners and surfers (beginners and pros).
Best for Swimming (if you’re not afraid of the sharks), the “long walks on the beach” that people on online-dating sites always refer to. Surfing, surf lessons, surfboard and wetsuit rentals, skateboarding on the boardwalk.
Chill factor Nice and warm, perfect for long swims and even longer surf sessions.
Bring Your board and wetsuit! And if you’re a surfer, all you need is a towel, and perhaps a book or some beach bats for entertainment.
Afterwards, head to Tiger’s Milk for a burger and a beer or cocktail, or Live Bait for some fresh seafood.
Where to find it Muizenberg Beach
9. St James
The crowd Tourists, locals, and families. But, if you want to escape the crowds completely, head over the rocks to the protected neighbouring cove known as Danger Beach, for a secluded sunbathe.
Best for Tanning, swimming, and snapping pics in front of the iconic rainbow-coloured changeroom houses.
Chill factor Nice and warm, so you can splash about for a while.
Bring Your usual beach attire, and your camera or smartphone for that Insta-worthy multicoloured backdrop.
Afterwards, head to Kalk Bay, only a short walk from the beach, and home to a wide range of fantastic shops and restaurants. If you’re going for an early dip, we recommend heading to Olympia Café and Deli for a hot coffee and freshly baked croissant.
Where to find it Main Road, St James, Cape Town
10. Queen’s Beach
The crowd Sea Point locals, promenade-runners, families with kids.
Best for A cool down after a long run on the promenade, or a dip after work.
Chill factor Icy, but very refreshing. No waves make for a relaxed plunge.
Bring A picnic hamper and blanket, so you can relax and watch the sun set over the sea in the evening with a delicious homemade (or Giovanni’s-prepared) feast.
Afterwards, head to The Dairy Den for a post-swim ice cream, or Scheckter’s Raw for a wholesome and satisfying breakfast or lunch.
Where to find it Beach Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
11. Bloubergstrand: Big Bay and Little Bay
The crowd 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 bodyboarding (if the southeaster isn’t blowing), wind- and kite-surfing if it is, cocktails along the beachfront and stunning views of Table Mountain and Robben Island.
Chill factor Pretty cold, reaching max temperatures of around 15ºC, so if you’re heading out for a long surf, be sure to wear a wetsuit.
Bring 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). And a camera or smartphone for posting Insta stories of Table Mountain’s best side.
Afterwards, head to the I Love Big Bay Market, where you can browse the local craft vendors, get a bite to eat at one of the many food stalls, and a sip a chilled drink while listening to great live music.
Where to find it Big Bay Beach and Little Bay Beach
12. Fish Hoek Beach
The crowd Pensioners, families and doggie types.
Best for Swimming in the calm water, games (there’s loads of space), Sunday strolls, whale-spotting during season.
Chill factor Nice and warm, but this also means the sharks enjoy the occasional swim as well. So keep an eye (and ear) out for the shark siren, which rarely sounds.
Bring Beach games and a picnic basket.
Afterwards, head to the café on the beach for a laidback meal and an ice cream.
Where to find it Fish Hoek Beach
The crowd Mostly locals and surfers, so if you’re not keen on the hustle and bustle of the tourist-trodden hotspots, this low-key beach will suit you down to the ground.
Best for Surfing, safe swimming and boating (safe slipway).
Chill factor You’ve got to have a thick skin (or a wetsuit) for this one, because the water is icy!
Bring An umbrella and lounge chairs. Surfers, you know what to bring.
Afterwards, head to One of the many beachside restaurants – most of which specialise in either seafood or Italian, and have lovely views of the ocean. We recommend Die Damhuis Restaurant and Café Orca.
Where to find it Melkbos Beach
Researched by Kent Cloete, Michelle de Bruin and Nikki Benatar
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