There’s a reason ( or many in fact) why Cape Town has been voted the world’s most beautiful city time and time again. We could attribute this to its cascading mountains hemming the city against the ocean, or the vibrant melting pot of people and cultures who call this peninsula home. Perhaps it’s the vineyard regions yielding top wines, the forests or the way you can never quite escape the coastline on this Souther-Western most tip of Africa. Either way, when in Cape Town, you’ll find yourself drawn to the water somewhere and feel all the better for it. Here’s a mini-guide to Cape Town’s coastline…
False Bay Peninsula
This peninsula jutting out into the ocean is often overlooked by Cape Town visitors but unlike its icy Atlantic Ocean seaboard of Camps Bay, Llandudno and Clifton; these waters are warmer and provide a family-friendly landscape with something for everyone to enjoy. Make like a local and take the train from Muizenberg all the way to Simonstown and back- you’ll be treated to ocean views all the way.
This is perfect for taking the kids to a sandy play park, grabbing lunch or drinks right opposite the beach or learning how to surf or bodyboarding has a family. St. James beach with its colourful huts is a smaller beach with a tidal pool perfect for swimming and splashing around with little ones. If you’re keen for a walk, walk along the Muizenberg ‘Cat walk’ between Muizenberg and St. James beach and find many little beaches and rock pools along the way. It’s not really pram-friendly so if you’re not jogging or running and with young kids, walk this route on the Main Road sidewalk.
*Be Mindful to not walk this route alone during non-peak times ( early evenings) as there have been muggings here and on St. James beach during quiet times*
This quirky little town needs a visit and mention all on it’s own. With weekly markets, the Kalk Bay Co-op bring designers and artists wares together for sale, antique shops, nurseries and clothing boutiques; you’ll find once-off wares for your home and your cupboard. Eat Kalkies speciality of fish and chips at the harbour, stop off for coffee and a fresh croissant at one of their many bakeries and sample Cuban cocktails at Cape to Cuba with the sand at your feet or beers at the local favorite of the Brass Bell.
Fishhoek beach is a long, family-friendly beach that can tend to be windy but with shallow windows, a playground and a restaurant right there, it’s a favorite amongst locals and fills quite a bit on hot, summer days.
This has been the naval base since the British Royal Navy was stationed here and still retains so much of its old-world naval charm in its Jublilee square, harbour and Main Road eateries situated in buildings harking back to the 1800’s. Swim, walk and learn to dive on Long Beach, take a boat cruise from Simonstown’s harbour or continue onwards towards Boulders Beach and other smaller alcoves.
Foreigners and locals alike will always flock to see these cute African penguins. You’ll pay an entrance fee to bask in the sunlight beside these fellows and are warned not to try touch them as they will bite. Between Boulders and Cape Point you will encounter so many white-sand beaches nestled between giant boulders perfect for tanning, relaxing and dipping.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
Aside from the rougher Diaz beach, the main attraction here is the way this South-Western most tip of Africa juts out in the ocean. There’s a reason we are called the ‘Cape of Storms’ as it is here that many passing ships met their demise. Many trails and hikes begin or end here within the Table Mountain National Park and you can cycle your way through this reserve too. Somewhere between Cape Point and Cape Agulhas is there the icy Benguela current meets the warmer Agulhas current from the sub-tropics but if you’re looking for the actual places where the two oceans meet, this would be further down South Africa’s coastline at Cape Agulhas.
If you drive all the way around the peninsula to get to the Atlantic seaboard you’ll first pass Kommetjie, Long beach in Noordhoek and then the world-renowned Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Long beach was named correctly and is great for horse-riding and lengthly strolls on the beach and sunsets. Surfers love the waves in ‘Die Hook’ ( the corner in Afrikaans) and sunsets are particularly magical here.
*Be mindful of not going alone but in groups, during the day and especially in the evenings as the lights goes. Always best to visit with a local guide and in a big group*
Chapman’s Peak Drive
This curvy drive with its breathtaking cliff drops, never-ending ocean and hairy 32 bends will give you an entirely new appreciation for this part of the world. Visitors do side-car trips along here, guided cycle tours and more all to take it all in and stop along the way for photos and picnics at various viewpoints. Pack a picnic and sit at some of the designated areas for lunch ( with toilets) and continue onward to Hout Bay. Sunsets along Chapman’s Peak bring locals from around the city, all to witness the sun drop into the ocean behind the Sentinel Peak.
This town with its beach, harbour, fish and chips and market cannot be missed. The docked boats, scrumptious fish and chips ( from Mariner’s wharf and Fish on the Rocks) continue to draw crowds on weekends. Visit the Bay Harbour market for local-made crafts, decor, jewellery, clothing and artisan food treats of every kind. Friday and saturday nights will see live bands taking to the stage.
Once you drive over Suikerbossie Hill from Out Bay to Llandudno, prepare to have your mind blown as the mountain drops away to reveal billionaire mansions hugging the coastline beside a aquamarine bay of Llandudno. Family-friendly and oh so beautiful, this beach is always a favorite for sunset picnics and only swimming-friendly on very hot days. This is where you’ll find the current a lot colder than False Bay.
Camps Bay Beach
Cruise along this winding road past Oudekraal; the Twelve Apostles mountain range on your right and the ocean to your left before reaching upmarket Camps Bay with its Miami-esque palm trees lining the beach and coffee shops, ice-cream parlours and restaurants.
Four Clifton beaches
Before you evening reach the ‘Cliftons’ you’ll encounter small beaches and alcoves where locals duck down to for a surf or picnic. Clifton first, second, third and fourth beaches are squashed side by side and seperated only by giant boulders. Each one draws its own crowds but due to the water’s iciness here, these beaches are popular for sun seekers, tanners and those keen to play a few beach games before retiring to their umbrellas and showing off sleek bodies in stylish swimsuits.
Sea Point Promenade
This has fast become the hub for active Capetonians and visitors where joggers, pram-pushers and cyclists take to the pedastrian-only promenade beside the ocean. Families will find wonderful playgrounds on the grass and a mini-blue train on the Mouille point side, fitness fanatics can use the exercise equipment and anyone can rent bikes to peddle along here. This is also where SUPPers (stand-up paddle boarders) and kayaks launch on calm days.
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
The most visited tourist attraction in Cape Town, the waterfront provides a place for you to grab food from every nation and for every palate with food courts, Food Market and an abundance of ocean-view restaurants. Take a boat trip to Robben Island from here, shop until you drop in the high-end aisle of the mall or enjoy a romantic sunset cruise here. Kids will love the Two Oceans Aquarium, playgrounds, Thomas the Tank Engine train ride and Scratch Patch for gems.
Big Bay and Strand
This coastline also draws its fair amount of visitors especially water-sports fanatics who harness the wind for kite and wind surfing as well as surfing and body boarding. This is also of course where you’ll get the best view of Table Mountain combined with the ocean from afar; giving you the feeling that you’ve almost left the city but are still very much there.
Which beach are you hoping to visit when in Cape Town?