Cape Town has no shortage of idyllic beaches, so for one to retain the crown as the most visited for several years back-to-back, you must know it’s got something special going for it. There’s no doubt that there are several beaches that do individual things better than Camps Bay, but as a complete package, there are few that get and deserve as much acclaim.
For starters, the beach is easily the most accessible from the Cape Town CBD. Sure, on a busy summer’s day you’ll have to wrestle for parking or filter through the backroads looking for a spot. But it’s amazingly accessible from throughout the city.
You can get there easily using public transport—Cape Town’s MyCiti buses offer connections from throughout the city. But if you’re looking for a more rapid arrival, an Uber or taxi from the city center shouldn’t cost more than your cocktail at the end of the day.
Perhaps because of this accessibility, Camps Bay feels like one of the more accepting beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard. That’s not to say it isn’t the playground for the rich, famous, and most beautiful, but unlike other beaches nearby you’ll find a reasonable cross-section of society enjoying the spoils there on a warm summer’s day.
Whether you’re lounging around in the tidal pool, or all oiled up for a day of beach volleyball, there’s little barrier to entry at Camps Bay. You may have to put up with some glitzy beach pretentiousness, particularly after dark, but that’s a small price to pay for what’s on offer.
Once you’ve arrived, either by car, taxi, or public transport, you’ll need to pick a spot on this vast stretch of sand. And because it’s a wide beach, if you get there early, chances are you’ll have a lot of sandy real estate to choose from. Even at its peak, you’ll usually be able to squeeze your towel into a vacant lot.
Regardless of where you end up on Camps Bay, chances are you’ll have an impressive view. Not only are the people who frequent the beach some of Cape Town’s finest, but the natural beauty that surrounds Camps Bay is remarkable. Behind you are the famous Twelve Apostles, which form part of Table Mountain. There are also views of Lion’s Head. Out to sea, you’ll find nothing but pristine blue oceans, and at sunset, the sky turns all shades of red, orange, and purple before slipping behind the Atlantic.
Hang out at the southerly end if you’re looking for the tamer swimming in the large tidal pool. Towards the middle of the beach, you’ll find highly qualified life guards watching over a demarcated swimming area. A little further along are some beach volleyball courts. And on either side are relatively clean and well-equipped bathrooms and showers.
Though there’s little surfing at Camps Bay proper, and the water is fairly frigid, it’s an active beach. There’s almost always a beach volleyball game on the go, and toward the end of the day, it’s not uncommon to find an informal game of football. Plenty of people bring their own frisbees and beach bats to pass the time. Even if you’re not up for the physical exertion, the constant passing parade of buxom beauties engaging in these activities is often entertainment enough.
Of course, if you’re feeling particularly brave, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t dip your toes in the frigid Atlantic. The temperatures may struggle to reach double figures, but provided the sun’s up and it’s summer outside, you’ll be able to stave off the hypothermia long enough to enjoy a thoroughly refreshing dip in the sea.
When the end of the day does arrive, or even before then, you can always kick back with a cocktail, smoothie, or pizza. Some restaurants will even deliver to the beach.
The prices are far from the most competitive in Cape Town, but you have to factor in the location. You’re perched next to an idyllic stretch of beach on some of the most expensive property in the country. And there are few places in the world that offer so many dining, drinking, and late-night options so close to the ocean as the palm-tree lined Camps Bay strip.
If you’re concerned about costs, you’re probably better off skipping the exclusive bars and restaurants. There are a selection of coffee, health food, and pizza chains that stick to reasonable prices. And if all you’re looking for is a quick snack or a few essentials, you can always take a walk to the supermarket situated in the shopping center on the southern side of the strip.
Camps Bay at night is a divisive topic. Some count the days until Sunday evening when they can slip on their chic beachwear and head to the exclusive bars and restaurants. Others avoid it like the plague. Whatever your preference come nightfall, there’s no denying that this is a remarkable stretch of land that’s deserving of its title as the most visited beach in Cape Town.