Cape Town is world-famous for its beautiful beaches, and for good reason – with huge stretches of soft, white sand, critter-filled rock pools perfect for exploring, swimming in the azure ocean, fantastic surfing beaches, and many spots to soak up the sun, you really can’t ask for much more!

So, here are the 8 Best Cape Town Beaches, as chosen by a terribly homesick Capetonian (currently living in freezing Frankfurt am Main, Germany).

 

1. Boulders Beach

Best beach for… swimming with penguins!

The Beaches of Cape Town - Boulders 1

One of three major penguin colonies in South Africa, Boulders Beach is a wonderful place to get up close and personal with the cute and quirky African Penguin. These adorable (but often aggressive!) little birds live in subterranean nests on the beach, and they sit and stare back quite happily at the hordes of tourists that come to visit them. While some of the areas of the beach are reserved for the penguins, there is also a “human” beach with a sheltered bay and white sand, perfect for swimming, relaxing, and enjoying the warm weather.

Entrance is R65 for adults and R35 for children (until Oct 2016), which lets you enter the conservation area and use the beach and facilities. You can view the penguins from several raised boardwalks, and they often visit the tourist beaches and waddle past sunbathers! During breeding season (March until May), you’ll hear the donkey-like bray that gained them the name “jackass penguins”, and spot some fluffy penguin babies sitting near their parents. Visiting Boulders is definitely one of the highlights of a summer holiday in Cape Town!

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Insider Tips:

– Whatever you do, DO NOT touch the penguins! They may seem cuddly and harmless, but they have sharp beaks and can give a very nasty bite.
– Simon’s Town has several lovely guest houses should you want to stay nearby, and the Boulders Beach Lodge and Restaurant offers penguin-themed curios, accommodation, and refreshments for tired beachgoers.  

 

2. Windmill Beach

Best beach for… utter relaxation in nature

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This little-known, hidden gem of a beach is located in Simon’s Town, just a bit further along the road from Boulders. With white sand, rock pools, clusters of boulders, and sheltered swimming spots, Windmill Beach is simply delightful.  It’s a little bit isolated, so it’s a good idea to rent a car for the day and pack a picnic lunch, as well as all your beach gear! The water can be quite cold, but there are some great snorkelling spots waiting for you if you have a wetsuit handy. The kelp forests just offshore are beautiful, and the swaying underwater fronds are filled with indigenous fish, urchins, anemones, and hunting sea birds.

The rock pools are also great fun to explore, especially if you love sea life and pottering about in the tidal zone. Windmill Beach is perfect if you like privacy and tranquillity, so settle in with a good book, plenty of sunscreen, and while away the day in the sun.

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Insider tips:

– It’s easiest to get to Windmill Beach by car – there is only one bus that stops nearby, and it is infrequent.
– Arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to escape the extreme midday heat in the peak of summer – there’s not much shelter from the sun at this beach!
– Windmill Beach is on the way to Cape Point, so you can visit before or after your sightseeing trip.

 

3. Seaforth Beach

Best beach for… great views and free penguin spotting

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Most tourists go straight to Boulders to see the African penguins, but a little-known beach just next door often gets penguin visitors as well – and looking at them is free of cost! Seaforth Beach in Simon’s Town is much loved by the locals, and during the summer holidays and on weekends you will find the water full of happy swimmers and squealing children splashing in the shallows. The penguins usually hide out on the far left hand side of the beach among the rocks, and you may spot them swimming around in the shallows, hunting fish.

For those of you who are nervous about possibly encountering sharks (without cages!), Seaforth is the perfect beach for safe swimming, as there are many large boulders and rocks enclosing the small bay. It’s also a favourite place for snorkelling, and rock pool exploration. It can get crowded at times, but the vibe is always friendly and laid-back.

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Insider tips:

 

– Seaforth Restaurant overlooks the bay, and offers fantastic seafood for affordable prices.
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The curio vendors in the car park have lots of great handcrafted goods for sale, such as beaded ornaments and key-rings, wooden sculptures, and penguin themed souvenirs!
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If you don’t mind a considerable walk, take the train to Simon’s Town station and follow the main road through the town, all the way to Seaforth. It’s a lovely walk, if you can spare around an hour each way.

 

4. Fish Hoek Beach

Best beach for… swimming & beach sports

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Fish Hoek beach is one of the favourite hang-outs for local sun-worshippers, and it is also one of the best swimming beaches in Cape Town! With a large stretch of sand perfect for sunbathing, and no rocks or seaweed just off shore, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the ocean after a few hours of tanning on the beach. Fish Hoek has admittedly had a few shark attacks over the decades, but at present there are excellent “shark spotters” that patrol the coastline, shark nets during peak tourist season, and warning flags that alert beachgoers to any sharks in the area. If you follow the alerts, you will be perfectly fine!

Fish Hoek is great for beach sports, such as football, beach cricket, Frisbee, and beach bats, and there is a walkway along the shoreline that takes you to several great swimming spots among rock pools. There is a café and restaurant right near the water, and amenities free of charge. Fish Hoek is a relaxed and friendly beach, and you can get a great sense of the everyday Capetonian lifestyle away from the city centre.

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Insider tips:

 

– Fish Hoek beach is easily accessible by train – buy a Metrorail Tourist Day Ticket and get unlimited trips between Cape Town central station and Simon’s Town. The train travels along the shore from Muizenberg onwards, so be sure to get a window seat on the left hand side of the train!
– If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some of the local fishermen hauling in their daily catch! Often beachgoers join in with bringing the net in, which can be great fun.

 

5. Muizenberg Beach

Best beach for… catching a wave

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One of Cape Town’s best surfing spots, Muizenberg Beach is a swathe of white sand in False Bay famous for its great waves, laid-back atmosphere, and the numerous affordable activities available for beachgoers to enjoy. With a long, raised promenade, mini-golf course, colourful and quirky beach huts, and large stretches of white sand, Muizenberg is full of character and appeals to the whims of every visitor.   

Feel like trying something new? Hire some surfing gear from the Surf Shack Surf School, and catch your first wave with the help of friendly surf instructors. If you’re already a keen surfer, you will simply love the Capetonian waves and being out in the surf with an amazing view of the bay. Muizenberg is also great for sunbathing and swimming, and long walks along the shoreline with an ice-cream cone in hand. Come prepared for a whole day on the beach!

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Insider Tips:

– If you’re staying in the city bowl (Cape Town City Centre), take a train from central station through to Muizenberg. The station is right next to the beach, train tickets are affordable, and the journey is safe. Stick to travelling during daylight hours, and be vigilant of your belongings to stay on the safe side. Pickpockets are adept at spotting tourists!
– There’s a lovely scenic walk from Muizenberg beach, past St. James Beach, and along to Kalk Bay. It takes about an hour and a half each way, allowing for photos and moments spent taking in the panoramic views.

 

6. Clifton 4th Beach

Best beach for… showing off your new bikini

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This beautiful Blue Flag Beach is simply heaven on earth. Nestled in-between clusters of massive granite boulders, the small stretches of sugary white sand that make up Clifton’s four beaches are revered by local sun-worshippers and tourists alike. Clifton 4th Beach is considered the most popular, as it is big enough to have a little privacy, and has great amenities. It’s also one of the only beaches with adequate shelter from Cape Town’s infamous summer wind! Settle in for the day with a hired lounger and umbrella, and enjoy the gorgeous South African sun with the ocean at your toes.

Clifton truly is a pleasure beach – beautiful people, luxury yachts moored just off shore, stunning views, and a profound feeling that you’re in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Sadly, the water is exceptionally cold, and most beachgoers can only stand a brief dip when they need to cool down. The Atlantic laps Clifton’s shores, which means freezing, numb toes after a few minutes in the water. Luckily, Clifton’s tranquil hideaways and stunning surroundings make up for the frigid water!

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Insider Tips:

– Parking is an absolute nightmare at Clifton, especially during the high season (November to March). Arrive very early by car to snag a spot, or take the MyCiti bus and simply hop off and walk down to the beach.
– The stairs leading down to the beaches are very steep and winding, making the beach largely inaccessible to those with physical disabilities or mobility issues.
– Alcohol isn’t allowed on the beach (or in any unlicensed public spaces in South Africa), so don’t crack open a beer on the sand, as you will incur a hefty fine. There are plenty of cocktail bars in nearby Camp’s Bay for sundowners!

 

7. Camp’s Bay Beach

Best beach for… sunbathing and sundowners

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Situated a few kilometres away from Clifton, Camp’s Bay Beach is one of Cape Town’s favourite seaside playgrounds. Beach volleyball, sunbathing, gorgeous views of the ocean, and a beachfront full of cocktail bars and seafood restaurants make Camp’s Bay Beach a summer hotspot you absolutely have to visit on your trip to Cape Town. Grab a coffee and a pastry at one of the seaside coffee shops before heading to the beach to claim your sandy spot in the sun. You can hire a lounger and an umbrella for the day, and buy refreshments from the local vendors to stay hydrated when it’s sweltering outside.

Settle in at one of the trendy cocktail bars for sundowners at Camp’s Bay, and watch the sun sink below the horizon as you enjoy a glass of superb South African wine, or an ice cold beer. Party animals can drink and dance the night away at clubs like Café Caprice and Shimmy Beach Club, and then take one of the many available taxis to get back safely.

The Beaches of Cape Town - Camps-Bay_1

Insider Tips:

– If you want dinner at one of the more exclusive beachfront restaurants in Camp’s Bay, be sure to make a reservation! Ask for a table outdoors with a view to ensure you catch the full glory of the sunset.

 

8. Llandudno Beach

Best beach for… privacy, tranquillity, and surfing

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It may be difficult to get to, and impossible to find a free parking spot among the mere 20 bays at the bottom of the long drive down from the mountain pass, but privacy and isolation is part of Llandudno Beach’s unique charm. The beach is absolutely stunning, with white sand and granite boulders surrounded by natural mountain bush, and it offers a scenic panoramic view both from above and at ocean level. The beach is excellent for surfing, but the icy cold water and dangerous currents tend to put off swimmers (and I don’t blame them!).

There are restrooms on the beach but little else, so you’ll need to bring your own supplies if you intend on spending the day on the beach. Due to its tricky location, Llandudno hardly ever gets crowded, and maintains the feeling of a special slice of paradise tucked away among Cape Town’s other popular beaches.

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Insider tips:

– Arrive early in the morning by car in order to secure a parking spot!
– The beach is largely inaccessible to those with physical disabilities or mobility issues, due to steep steps and inclines.

If this article has given you itchy feet, book that ticket and find yourself a lovely little place to stay. We recommend AccommoDirect to help you find and book the perfect apartment. Have you been to any of my favourite beaches in Cape Town – or would you add another one?


This is a guest post by Carmen Anderson.

12346566_495237853991071_5957353374773170298_n Carmen is Capetonian born and bred, 26 years old and currently living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  She is married to her best friend and travel buddy, and a part-time travel writer, hobbyist photographer, sun-worshipper, wine lover, and aspiring travelette. Follow her on her blog An Incurable Case of Wanderlust.