So, you’re off to Cape Town! Excellent news! You’ll have a long list of things to do, see, hear and eat and if you’re looking for the top 5 beaches to visit – then you’ve come to the right place. The best time of year to visit Cape Town is November through to March – it’s hot and sunny and also a superb time to escape the northern hemisphere too, which is exactly what we did this year! Check this out for packing tips!
While there are other beautiful beaches around the world, many of them are private, overly crowded with sun-gazers or cultivated for tourists. Cape Town’s beaches are public beaches of natural beauty and rarely over-crowded – and anyway, you can always elbow yourself a spot without too many glares. All the beaches are accessible by road, although a few you’ll have to do a workout of stairs before reaching the bottom – but I promise, it’s totally worth it, and you’re calves will thank you later!
Camps Bay Beach
This is one of the more accessible beaches in Cape Town, you can be dropped off in front of the beach by taxi / Uber or find parking across the road or up the side streets. With a vibey strip of restaurants, cafés, convenience stores and boutiques (my faves being Vida e Caffé, Kauai, Mezapoli ) you can spend the whole day here. There is lots of activity on this beach and a mix of families, teens and singles hanging out and at sunset you’ll find a plethora of blankets and towels with picnic baskets dotted all along the seashore. It’s a long and wide beach so there is acres of space to spread out and if you really don’t feel like moving a bronzed muscle, there are plenty of drink and ice-cream sellers to serve you. You’ll soon know their “Granadilla lolly to make you jolly, water for your daughter” jingle by heart! The best part of this beach… the magnificent backdrop of the Twelve Apostles Mountains!
Before you even reach this visual feast of tranquility and beauty, you’ll meander along the winding way of Victoria Road from Camps Bay, one side dropping sharply into the ocean while the opposite steeply climbs the protected Oudekraal Nature Reserve. You’ll pass the famous Twelve Apostles Hotel and can also do a road-side stop and grab yourself a giant wooden-carved giraffe. The drive sets the vibe perfectly for the relaxing, rugged and almost-secluded beach of Llandudno with its breath-taking ocean view embraced by large granite boulders and its clean, white, soft sand – but be warned that the water is icy-cold!
While there’s no food to buy here, you’ll find lots of families packing a picnic and enjoying ice-creams and cold drinks bought from the roomys* vendors and sunbrellas can also be hired on the beach. There are life guards on duty in the summer and the beach is also home to the Llandudno Surf Lifesaving Club – so you’re in good hands.
*ice-cream in Afrikaans
Clifton is technically made up of 4 smaller beaches neatly hugged by rocks, but you can move freely between all of them. This season we spent our time on Clifton 2nd which is (according to the kids-in-the-know) an easy swimming beach for the smaller humans amongst us. You have to climb stairs down from the road to reach the beaches below but this makes the Clifton beaches well protected from the wind – which can be pretty strong some days – so on these hair-ruffling days, Clifton is the best choice. The water is pretty chilly but there are many hot-‘n-sweaty-bronzed-babes that brave the waves. It’s also a super beach to people watch, as your neighbour is a little closer to you than on some of the other beach coves. Perfect for those who love to eavesdrop – you’ll get to overhear all kinds of conversations, from teen gossip, bar and restaurant reviews to ‘big’ deals being made! Oh, and did I mention you’ll also be able to salivate at the gorgeous beach bungalows that line the beach too?
As on Llandudno, there are no cafés or stores nearby but you’ll find drinks, crisps and ice-lollies sold (and again, you’ll be able to practice your ‘beach jingle’).
Moving away from the Atlantic Ocean and to the warmer Indian Ocean you’ll find Muizemburg Beach on the False Bay coast. One of my favourites, it feels as if it somehow got stuck in time somewhere between the 70’s and now, no doubt because of the retro looking pavilion and the primary-coloured Victorian ‘bathing boxes’ / changing huts. It’s a long beach (stretching 20kms) with perfect surfing waters, where the colour of the ocean and sky merge on the horizon, here you’ll find many sun-streaked surfer dudes and gals looking for a bitchin’ wave to drop in to! It’s also a fun beach for mini swimmers and boogie boarders alike because of its warm, shallow water. If you’re a ‘Barney’* and need a few more lessons then there are a few surf schools that are run out of the Pavilion across the road from the beach.
In the same pavilion, across the road from the beach on … erm …Beach Road … you can hire wetsuits, boards and beach brollies. You can also pick from a variety of food options, from burgers and fries, fish and chips and coffee and pastries. We ate lunch at Live Bait which has a fabulous view and the food is tasty!
*An inexperienced surfer, or someone who’s no good at surfing.
Made famous by the four African Penguins who made Boulders their home in 1982, there is now a colony of more than 3 000 of these tuxedo-ed birds. While there is a small swimming beach at Boulders, the main reason to come to the beach is to view the penguins from Foxy Beach which is protected, but you can easily hangout watching the birds from the beautifully constructed boardwalks. The walk along the long these boardwalks is truly beautiful and even in peak season (when we were there) it’s not that crowded. After watching the birds for a while (I was trying to figure out how I could fit one into one of these bags) you can head to the swimming beach where kids will love climbing the large granite boulders and splashing in the rock pools. There is lots to explore here and you’ll find relaxed penguins sunning themselves on the rocks too – so you can get right up close* for perfect selfie opp – after all, they’re always red-carpet ready!
There is food available, some vending machines for drinks and a few Braai (BBQ) areas – but a packed picnic is always a good idea.
*be warned that they can snap when threatened and their beaks are pretty sharp!
If you’re passing through South Africa’s bustling capital, be sure to check this out!