Different Strokes for Different Folks: Best Cape Town Beaches for Sunning, Surfing and Swimming
Ah, the feeling of powdery soft sand between your toes. There might still be a slight nip in the air but we can just about taste the granadilla popsicles we’ll be enjoying on the beach this summer. While Cape Town’s coast is awash with coves of all shapes and sizes, there are specific ones we love best for swimming, sunning and surfing. Get the lowdown before grabbing your beach bag and heading on out for a day of seaside fun.
Best for Sunning: Clifton Beaches 1 – 4
Dazzling white sand lapped by the glittering, turquoise Atlantic all framed by views of Lion’s Head and the 12 Apostles mountain range. It’s understandable why Clifton has been named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Divided by hulking granite boulders into four unique coves, each with their own appeal, visitors are spoilt for choice. Beaches 1 to 3 are great for dog owners and sporting enthusiasts while Fourth Beach is popular with the most glamorous of crowds. The water is chilly so not ideal for swimming but bring a picnic (or dive into the snacks proffered by passing vendors) and take in the late sunset, windless tanning and views of the yachts bobbing in the bay. Just remember that you’ll need to hike back up the steep steps that lead down to the coves so pack light.
Find it: Victoria Road, Clifton (between Camps Bay and Bantry Bay)
Best for Sporting: Camps Bay
Beach volleyball, beach bats and touch rugby. The palm-tree lined crescent of Camps Bay, just down the road from Clifton, hums with activity during summer months and is peopled with excited locals and foreigners that make it feel like an endless holiday in the Med. Sit on the grassy knolls, hire a plush recliner and umbrella or explore the natural tidal pools.
Should the wind come up, head to one of the festive cafes across the road for cocktails, delicious seafood and perhaps a bit of dancing if you’re there later in the evening. If the action feels a little overwhelming, the neighbouring Glen Beach offers a slightly calmer alternative and is the perfect place to plot down and watch the pro surfers catch a wave.
Find it: Victoria Road, Camps Bay
Best for Swimming and Wildlife: Boulders Beach
With gloriously (warmer) waters and a safely sheltered shore, Boulders Beach in False Bay is ideal for young families and those not brave enough to dip into the Atlantic (it’s on the Indian Ocean coastline). Celebrities here include the colony of 2000 endangered African Penguins who nest in the shrubbery lining the planked walkways – the only place in the world to see our cutest (if slightly smelly) of seabirds in their natural environment. Because of the occupants, access is paid and restricted, but this also means that the beach is pristine and amenities well-maintained so it’s well worth it. Remember to arrive early to nab a spot, or make it a stop along the way to Cape Point.
Find it: Off the M4 just past Simon’s Town
Best for Surfing: Muizenberg
The colourful Victorian bathing cottages have no doubt graced many a postcard near you and are part of the landscape of this family-friendly beach where surfers both beginner and expert head to ride the welcoming waves. It’s also an official Blue Flag beach with top marks for water quality, safety, environmental considerations and facilities. There are plenty of ‘Learn to Surf’ schools that flank the promenade, so if you’re feeling game, read more about our stoked experience. Surfing certainly is hungry work, but the sweet little eateries, coffee shops and takeaway joints are designed to feed beachgoers with a hearty array of home-style treats and reviving flat whites. It’s shabby-chic but full of character, palpable history and lots of relaxed fun.
Find it: Off Beach Road
Best for Iconic Views: Blouberg Beach
That picture-perfect view of Table Mountain, rising proudly out of the ocean against the horizon, is ready to be snapped from the shore opposite the city at Bloubergstrand
(Afrikaans for ‘Blue Mountain Beach) – a series of rugged beaches just 15kms outside of the city centre. The long stretch of beach includes Big Bay, home to windsurfers who get swept up and out of the waves in jaw-dropping feats of athleticism and bodyboarders, intent on riding some of the biggest waves along our coast. The neighbouring Small Bay is quieter and ideal for families while still offering panoramic views of Robben Island and Table Mountain.
Both beaches are close to Eden on the Bay – an outdoor mall with some wonderful eateries and a great expanse of lawn. Remember to take your camera – the deep pink sunsets are truly magnificent.
Find It: Marine Drive, Big Bay
Travellers should be aware though that Southern hemisphere sun exposure is harsh and quality sunscreen is always recommended. The Spa at Cape Grace offers a quality range for guests who need to purchase something more relevant for the environment they find themselves in.
QMS Cellular Sun Protection SPF 50 sells for R1060 and protects on a cellular level providing DNA defence and repair. Caribbean Tan Protection-in- a-Can SPF 15 and 30 sells for R140 and offers protection in a can which filters out harmful rays whilst allowing the skin to build a gorgeous, natural tan without burning!
Kalahari SPF 40 (a Proudly South African product) sells for R330 and is a mineral based sunscreen providing natural protection from the sun’s rays. This product is oil free, making it perfect for oily combination skin types whilst still containing anti-ageing properties.
As the summer season approaches, be sun-smart and enjoy the superb selection of beaches on offer.
Blog post by: Tarah Darge