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With the beautifully dynamic clash of the Atlantic and Indian oceans, South Africa’s 1,740-mile-long coast boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world. With each one offering something different, there really is one for everyone – surfers, shark divers, horse riders, paragliders… The Cape in particular is a hugely popular destination for beach-goers all over the world, with its spectacular views and seaside towns. Here is our pick of the best.
Loved by locals and tourists alike for its scenery, Milnerton beach is famous for the lighthouse that guides boats into the picturesque Table Bay. Perfect for the snap-happy visitor, this beach boasts spectacular views of the mountain, dreamy sunsets and a palm fringed lagoon. Surfers should also ensure Milnerton is on their list as the waves found here inevitably draw large surfing parties, with summer surfers flocking down on a Wednesday morning to race into Big Bay. Some braver swimmers may even like to take a dip in the water, which is slightly cooler on this section of the coast, but perfect for a bracing ocean swim.
Often described as the seafood haven of the West coast, Bloubergstrand (‘blue mountain beach’ in Afrikaans) is a suburb about 20 minutes from the city centre of Cape Town. Another scenic treasure trove, Bloubergstrand’s beaches not only provide mountain scenes, but also an excellent view of Cape Town itself. Another popular attraction of this beach is the view of Robben Island where the ex-president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was held prisoner. Little Bay, the smaller counterpart of the surfers’ Big Bay, is the perfect place to enjoy the scenery and the sun with the family. Food is never a problem here with a number of restaurants bordering the beach. There is even an original fisherman’s cottage by the shoreline where you can enjoy freshly caught seafood while watching the sunset.
Referred to as the ‘French Riviera of South Africa’, Clifton beaches dazzle with its white sand and turquoise waters. Divided by granite boulders, the four beaches – namely First Beach, Second Beach, Third Beach and Fourth Beach – ensure visitors are really spoilt for choice when deciding where to swim or surf. First beach is particularly popular amongst surfers and beach volleyball players – a veritable playground of sporting people. Second and Third beaches are the beaches of the 20-somethings looking for a party and a good tan. Fourth beach is perfect for families as it has lifeguards, excellent facilities and a place to buy cold drinks and snacks.
Life in Camps Bay feels like an endless holiday that never gets tiring. With the mix of colourful pavement cafés and blazing beach days it is definitely worth a visit. Perfectly situated, Camps Bay is about 10 minutes from Cape Town city centre and Table Mountain and only 20 minutes from the V&A Waterfront. With plenty of thing to do, this beach is ideal for the active travellers. Between Camps Bay and Llandudno, for example, there is a labyrinth of underwater caverns to dive into and explore. Or you could take a picnic basket down to one of the beach’s grassy knolls and enjoy watching the rich and famous frolic on the beach below.
False Bay is a firm family favourite. Strewn with 540 million year old boulders, Boulders Beach is home to a population of 2,000 African Penguins, known as the ‘city slickers’, who have decided to unanimously take control of this particular bit of coast. Although this is a paying beach, it is worth the small fee to spend the day in Cape Town’s best swimming shore with its safe, sheltered and gloriously warm waters. Due to the strict protection of its occupants the beach is always kept clean and the facilities, which include an outside shower, are well maintained. This is the perfect beach to have a sunset picnic with friends and family.
7am – 7.30pm (Dec-Jan)
8am – 6.30pm (Feb-Mar/ Oct – Nov)
8am – 5pm (Apr – Sept)