Coastal Vote: A Beach-Lover's Guide to Cape Town

From coastlines filled with penguins to mountain-lined views, Cape Town is home to some of the best beaches in the world
From coastlines filled with penguins to mountain-lined views, Cape Town is home to some of the best beaches in the world | Courtesy of the Marly Boutique Hotel and Spa / Expedia.com
Doug ONeill

The biggest dilemma you’ll have in South Africa‘s seaside city is which beach to pick: Camps Bay or Clifton? Bantry or Boulders? Luckily, we’ve drawn a line in the sand.

Few coastal cities rival Cape Town for scenic splendour – where cliffs converge most dramatically at the Twelve Apostles mountain range, overlooking Camps Bay. Sandy beaches are plentiful, with the four coves of Clifton calling Cape Town’s smart set and the sheltered shores of Boulders Beach home to an equally well-suited population of ​​African penguins. Whichever you choose, spellbinding views abound. Here’s how to explore the shore of South Africa’s most cosmopolitan city.

1. The Amalfi Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel

Reception area at the Amalfi Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of the Amalfi Boutique Hotel / Expedia.com

Scenester-summoning Sea Point is the location of this 43-room boutique hotel, where everyone gets a balcony, a block back from Bantry Bay – arguably the most sheltered spot in Cape Town. Rooms are lightly nautical – reffing the coast outside – and downstairs, there’s a duo of dining spots at brunch favourite JARRYDS and Italian restaurant, Ariel. Here, you can feast on Neapolitan food by way of New York with dishes such as fire-roasted chicken and pulled-lamb pizza rosso. A curated boutique in the lobby showcases local designers, with statement sarongs and kaftans – perfect for the beach.

2. The OM Revolution

Yoga Studio

Beach yoga session by sea
© Anna Bieniek / Depositphotos.com

The Discovery Channel has rated Clifton’s beaches – there are four in total – among the top in the world. So, what better setting to practice some beach yoga? The OM Revolution team hosts classes on Clifton’s Third Beach, which is smaller and more private than the others. The sand, scenery and sunset are a relaxing set up for one-hour vinyasa classes, held each Sunday night.

3. Ellerman House

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel

Sun loungers sit by the pool at Ellerman House
Courtesy of Ellerman House / Expedia

Guests at Ellerman House – next to upscale Clifton – have a choice of 13 period-style rooms, as well as two private luxury villas which offer sweeping views of the Atlantic. Gardens and terraced lawns – inspired by Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden – also slope down to the sea. Complimentary yoga is held each morning and art tours of the owner’s celebrated in-house collection are on offer. South Africa’s other national obsession – wine – is showcased at the state-of-the-art tasting room, with 7,500 bottles to sample.

4. Ocean Experiences

Natural Feature

Lots of seals on a Hout Bay seal island in Cape Town, South Africa
© DV Sakharov / Deposit Photos

Your Ocean Experiences outing begins with a 30-40 minute boat ride from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront – with great views of Table Mountain and Twelve Apostles along the way – to the Cape Fur Seal colony at Strawberry Rocks. It’s possible you’ll also see whales, dolphins, penguins and – if you’re really lucky – the elusive sunfish. Upon arrival, you’ll have around 30 minutes to snorkel among the seals. Strict conservation rules apply: no feeding or using food to attract marine animals.

5. The Marly Boutique Hotel and Spa

Boutique Hotel, Luxury

An ensuite room at the Marly Hotel
Courtesy of the Marly Hotel / Expedia.com

The Marly in Camps Bay is named after the French royal residence, Château de Marly – built in the 17th-century for the self-indulgent Louis XIV. Naturally, opulence is on the cards at this Cape Town residence, set between the Twelve Apostles mountain range and Camps Bay beach. Baptiste Restaurant serves seafood and sushi – and you’ll also be treated to a smart spa, 360º Chinchilla rooftop lounge with views of Cape Town and rooms surveying the mountain or sea.

6. Boulders Beach

Natural Feature

Hundreds of penguins at boulders beach in Cape Town
© Evgenia Petzer / Deposit Photos

Huge granite boulders protect this beach from the coastal wind, which appeals to winter-fleeting travellers who want nothing more than to splash their feet in calm ocean water. Be prepared to share the beach with other happy-footed creatures who may also waddle by, too. Adjacent to the beach is the penguin colony of Simon’s Town, home to over 2,500 resident and endangered African penguins – there are boardwalks and viewing platforms designed specifically for unobtrusive penguin viewing. It’s an hour outside of Cape Town CBD by car, so take a picnic to make a day of it.

7. Tintswalo Atlantic

Hotel

A pair of egg chairs on a wooden balcony overlooking the ocean in Cape Town
Courtesy of Tintswalo Atlantic / Expedia.com

The five-star boutique lodge – at the foot of Chapman’s Peak – sits on a pebbled beach where you get panoramic views of picturesque Hout Bay harbour, the dramatic Sentinel mountain peak and the Atlantic Ocean. The ocean-facing Luxury Island Suites feature a private balcony, wood-burning fireplace and access to a heated pool. The romantic fairy-lit Chef’s Warehouse offers a fine-dining experience on an expansive deck next to the ocean to wind down on.

8. PS Adventures

Building

Young girl riding a jet ski
© Yanlev / Deposit Photos

If you’re from a snowy country and have never been on a jet ski, think of it as a snowmobile but on water. Hire your steed from PS Adventures to enjoy waterside views of the fashionable Granger Bay suburb, Table Bay and Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years –as you skim across the surface in your swimsuit. Life jackets and instruction provided.

9. Shimmy Beach Club

Restaurant, Seafood, Sushi, Contemporary, Vegetarian, South African

Infinity Pool at the Shimmy Beach Club at the V&A Waterfront
© SunshineSeeds / Deposit Photos
Shimmy is a restaurant, nightclub and concert venue rolled into one – conveniently located on the historic V&A Waterfront in the heart of Cape Town. Enjoy a meal in the ocean-facing restaurant, loll about on the private beach, or take a dip in the infinity pool, overlooking the Atlantic. You can snack in the restaurant – think pizza, sushi and burgers – or enjoy a proper meal of pumpkin and lentil curry or seafood platters for two, before dancing the night away.

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