Cape town isn’t your typical beach destination and still it features some of the most beautiful beaches of africa. It’s due to the cold and mostly rough Atlantic as well as the ever-present gale-force winds in summer that despite its stunning beaches Cape Town is not known as a beach holiday destination. On a good day the wind is a cool breeze in the heat of the day, but on most other days it can be described as a storm. This means a relaxed day on the beach might have more resemblence with a fight with nature.
But they do exist – those few good day. And with a bit of luck you will experience one of those and are rewarded with some of the most beautiful beach experiences in Africa. The Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards list two of Cape Towns beaches among their Top 5: Camps Pay (#3) and Clifton Beaches (#5). On #6 you’ll find Boulders beach (the one with the penguine) in Simonstown – also a beach on the cape. With that Cape Towns beaches compete with some of the most amazing island beaches in the Indian Ocean (e.g. Seychelles).
Three different costal areas
The cape peninsula is surrounded by water on three sides. Based on their location the beaches are distinguished as well. There is the Atlantic Seaboard an the west coast of the peninsula, where water temperatures in summer range between 17-19°C. On the other side to the east you’ll find False Bay, where temperatures are usually 2-3°C higher than on the west coast.
The third coastline is the West Coast which leads north. This is where you’ll find Milnerton and Blouberg Beach where you are rewarded with stunning views of Table Mountain across the Table Bay. Water temperatures equal those on Clifton and Camps Bay Beaches.
Top 5 Beaches in Cape Town
Everybody has different tastes. The following Top 5 List represents my personal favorite beaches in and around Cape Town. The list is not in any particular order.
Camps Bay Beach
Camps Bay is considered an exclusive suburb of the ‘Mother City’ and it’s beach is probably the most famous – and also busiest – amongst the city’s beaches. With the 12 Apostles as backdrop the white sandy beach stretches for about one kilometer. It is situated in the Atlantic Seaboard and features multifle showers and toilets. Right accross the street lies the famous Camps Bay Promenade which is also worth visiting.
The Surburb as well as the beach is where the beautiful and/or wealthy go. If you want to see or want to be seen – it’s the place to go.
Sun loungers and umbrellas are available for hire. First come first serve. The price for a sun lounger lies around R60 and R30 for the umbrella (please note: prices usually increase by 10% every year).
Clifton Beaches (1-4)
Situated on the Atlantic Seaboard as well is Clifton – a small fancy suburb after which the Clifton Beach – which actually consists of four interleading coves – is named. Clifton lies just before Camps Bay and is reached from the city center within approximately 10 Minutes.
Beaches 1-3 are rather small, but not as packed. The 4th beach is much bigger and especially popular with families and the younger crowd. There’s showers at eachof the beaches and toilets are found on 1st and 4th beach. To navigate to the different beaches you’ll descend a steep staircase – there’S one for each beach. If you realise you ended up on the wrong beach you can easily walk along the water edge between the beaches.
If you forgot to bring snacks and drinks – don’t despair. There’s a regular flow of beach vendors travelling from one to the next bay, carrying heavy cooler boxes. You’ll recognise them by their shouting: “Granadilla lolly makes you jolly“ and “Coke light to keep the body tight“. Ice popsicles, chips and sometimes even sandwiches are sold this way. Simply glance at the vendor and he’ll make his way to you – you won’t even have to leave your spot.
Sun loungers and umbrellas are available for hire. First come first serve. The price for a sun lounger lies around R60 and R30 for the umbrella (please note: prices usually increase by 10% every year). The 3rd beach usually also features a massage tent. If you can’t find it there, try 4th beach.
Milnerton Beach is one of the first beaches you’ll pass when driving up the West Coast. Here you’ll find stunning views towards Table Mountain. You’ll reach the beach through Woodbridge Island. There’s showers and toilets at the life saver center right next to the light house.
This beach isn’t quite as famous as e.g. Blouberg Beach from where most of the well-known table mountain pictures are taken, however, the view is just as stunning.
One of my personal favourites is Dolphin Beach. Firstly because, Kutloano and I got married here and also because of this amazing view over Table Bay towards Table Mountain, the wide sandy beach and the dunes…
This beach is located on the West Coast. Slightly further north lies Blouberg Beach, which I will not introduce further, because Dolphin merges into Blouberg Beach and are therefore quite similar. Dolphin Beach is very popular with kite surfers.
Moving over to False Bay you’ll find Muizenberg Beach to be the most known on this side of the peninsula thanks to the famous colourful beach houses and its reputation as a great beach for surfing. But it’s also know for the seemingly constant presence of white sharks. On this side of the peninsula sharks are much more common than on the Atlantic Seaboard or West Coast. Muizenberg therefore has the so called “Shark Spotter” who perch high up on the hill, looking out for sharks in the bay. If a shark is spotted, an alarm is raised at the beach so the water can be evacuated promptly.
Apart from its shark population the beach in Muizenberg is quite popular as its water is slightly warmer.
How best do I reach my favourite beach?
Well, the best way to get to your personal favourite beach is to use your car. But bear in mind that there is limited parking available and you might struggle. My tipp therefore is: use public transport. And it just so happens that you can reach all the above mentioned beaches with bus or train (Dolphin Beach would be the exception as you’d have to walk about 10 minutes from the closest bus station).
To Camps Bay Beach:
- With MyCiti Bus from Civic Center in the city center of Cape Town. You can take the 106 or 107 bus towards Camps Bay. Your stop: Camps Bay.
- With minibus taxis from Sea Point.
- With MyCiti Bus from Civic Center in the city center of Cape Town. 108 and 109 buses towards Hout Bay. Your stop: Clifton 2nd, Clifton 3rd or Clifton 4th.
- With minibus taxis from Sea Point.
- With MyCiti Bus from Civic Center in the city center of Cape Town. Bus T01. Your stop: Woodbridge Island. From the bus station you’ll cross the main road to your left and walk across the bridge to Woodbridge Island. The beach is straight ahead.
- Use your car.
- MyCiti Bus T01 towards Table View from Civic Center. Your stop: Table View. (Note: You’ll ten have to walk about 10-15 Minutes along the R27 main road to get to the beach.)
- Take the train. Use the Southern Suburbs line towards Simonstown.Your stop: Muizenberg. The train station is directly at the beach.
More Beaches in Cape Town:
- Sandy Bay
- Boulders Beach
- Long Beach (Nordhoek)
- Diaz Beach
This article shouldn’t be considered a comprehensive list of Cape Town beaches, but rather a selection of my handpicked favourites 😉 If you end up vacationing on the Cape you’ll probably visit a few more beaches – let me know which one’s your favourite in the comments section below.