In the southern hemisphere January is the time to go
to the beach and Cape Town is the place to do it. Whether you are
into baring everything or keeping your clothes firmly on, retreating
behind a rock or strutting your stuff, there is a beach along the
Cape Peninsula to suit you.
You can ride a horse, fly a kite, watch penguins, sail a hobie-cat,
walk your dog, surf the waves, explore a shipwreck, snorkel in the
shallows, dive in the deep or just lie in the sun. Your choice of
beach will depend not only on the activity you want to do but on which
way the wind blows. A howling south-easter can make sunbathing a misery
on an exposed eastern beach but might be just the thing for an exhilarating
Cape Town lies on the Atlantic west coast where a dip in the cold
fresh water leaves you zizzing like a mentholated mint. The water
may be icy but the sand is hot and the beaches are more sheltered
from the renowned Cape Doctor south-east wind than those
on the east.
drive from Cape Town along Victoria Road to the western peninsula
beaches of Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandudno and Sandy Bay provides magnificent
views of the jagged peaks of the twelve apostles. But for one of the
most spectacular marine drives in the world continue onto Chapmans
Peak Drive which skirts the Atlantic 600 metres above sea level. The
popular resort of Hout Bay lies at the start of this drive while at
the southern end is a breathtaking view of Noordhoek's long white
beach caressed by an unnaturally blue sea. Less accessible and consequently
very appealing are the beaches in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
which are surrounded by more indigenous plant species per square meter
than anywhere else in the world.
BEST WESTERN BEACHES (from north to south):
- Big Bay and Little Bay.
Best for: swimming, windsurfing, hobie cats, paddle skiing, family
outings, kite flying and Table Mountain views.
It is from these popular long sandy swimming beaches 20 kilometres
north of Cape Town that you can photograph the classic view of Table
Mountain. A strong south-easter gives the wave-jumping windsurfers
and colourful hobie cats a chance to show off. Beyond the breakers
Robben Island - Nelson Mandela's island prison - can be seen 13 kilometres
Property in Blouberg
Best for: seeing and being seen, sunbathing and watching paragliders
The glamour of beautiful bodies and the romance of cruising yachts
moored in the shallows attract a lot of visitors here. Granite boulders
divide the four white sandy beaches of Clifton sheltering them from
the south easter and offering safe bathing with a somewhat strong
undertow. Do not be surprised to see rainbow-striped paragliders floating
down towards you. They take off from the top of Lions Head and catch
a few thermal updrafts before coming in to land on the lawns of La
Med bar at the Maiden's Cove end of Clifton Beach.
Properties in Clifton
Best for:family fun, sunbathing, beach volleyball, surfing, windsurfing
and diving nearby.
The long stretch of fine sand and palm dotted lawn is perfect for
a shady family picnic. The busy road lined with shops and restaurants
that runs along the whole length of the beach is fun to stroll along
but parking can be frustrating. The beach is a little exposed during
a persistent south-easter but experienced surfers and windsurfers
love the hard-breaking waves near the rocks at the northern end of
the beach. There is no resident lifeguard and the strong backwash
means care must be taken if braving the chilly water. Scuba-diving
amongst inquisitive seals in Justin Caves on the road to Llandudno,
is superb and can be arranged at several schools in Camps Bay.
Properties in Camps Bay
Best for: body boarding, sheltered sunbathing, sandcastles and sunset
20 kilometres south of Cape Town this is the perfect romantic spot
for a sheltered sunset picnic after some serious sunbathing. A narrow
road winds its way down through a concealed hillside suburb where
there is not one shop. The charming spotless beach is tucked between
huge granite boulders and is beautiful from any angle. There is a
resident lifesaving club but beware of the strong surf and backwash.
Properties in Llandudno
Best for: getting an all-over tan.
This unofficial nudist beach is backed by steep dunes and mountain
slopes and the only way to get to it is a 20 minute walk from the
car park or a clamber over rocks from the southern end of Llandudno.
Narrow paths lead off the track, seaward to favourite sunbathing spots
or inland to high sand dunes.
Best for: swimming, paddle skiing, boogie boarding, fresh seafood
and family entertainment.
This leafy village with its kilometre long, safe swimming beach and
large fishing harbour offers everything you could want from a day
by the sea. It gets pretty crowded but you can always find room. Launch
trips to Seal Island are available and a San Franciso-style 'Mariners
Wharf' houses gift and curio shops, restaurants and bars. As the headquarters
of the cray fishing (rock lobster) fleet and home of the June/July
Snoek Festival the seafood here is delicious.
Properties in Hout Bay
Best for: horse riding, kite flying, long walks and serious surfing.
This gorgeous 8 kilometre horseshoe curve of fine white sparkling
sand is quite unspoilt and deserted. It is the Cape's widest beach
with plenty of room for kite flying, horse riding, jogging or just
strolling barefoot with the dog which every resident of the area does
every day. About half way along are the remains of the Kakapo'
shipwreck, preserved in the sand since 1900. The captain was so confused
by the deceiving foggy coastline, that he turned towards the beach
by mistake and came so far onto it that the crew hardly got their
feet wet as they stepped off. A dip in the cold Atlantic is probably
all you will want to cool off because there is a strong backwash and
just too cold to truly enjoy. You can fish at the southern end of
the beach towards Kommetjie and prize black muscles off the rocks
at low tide just check with the locals first because of poisonous
algae. There are some patches of quicksand near the dunes when the
winter lagoon starts to recede, but you can feel where the sand feels
wobbly and easily avoid it.
Properties in Noordhoek
PLATBOOMBAY, CAPE OF GOOD HOPE NATURE RESERVE
Best for: unique flora and fauna, rock pools, beachcombing and birds.
This long unspoilt beach is great for exploring rock pools. The surrounding
dunes and rocky slopes are covered with fynbos of which there are
600 species of Erica's and 368 types of Protea including South Africa's
National flower the King Protea. Bird watchers will not be disappointed
- black oystercatchers, avocets and brilliant coloured sunbirds are
common. Watch out for sly baboons who lurk around the car park to
steal tasty morsels out of open cars.
EAST COAST - FALSE BAY, NOT QUITE INDIAN OCEAN
The eastern shores of the Cape Peninsula which form one side of False
Bay, are lapped by warmer waters, which some people will tell you
is the Indian Ocean. Oceans are given boundaries by man, but the warm
Indian Ocean current and cold Atlantic swell do meet and combine off
the South African shores, close to the southern most point off Cape
Agalhus, some 200kms east of Cape Town. The beaches of False Bay take
the full force of the south-easterly wind which keeps Cape Town's
air clean but can ruin your hairdo. Fringed by long stretches of sandy
beaches and seaside towns False Bay is linked with the centre of Cape
Town by a scenic railway. The track reaches the coast at Muizenberg,
the start of Sunrise Beach where the sand runs for 40 kilometres east
all the way around False Bay to Gordon's Bay. There is a wonderful
view of Muizenberg beach with Gordon's Bay and the Hottentots Holland
Mountains in the distance from Boyes Drive running high along the
coastal hills between Muizenberg and the fishing village of Kalk Bay.
The train offers the most relaxing way to experience this coast and
it stops at all the little seaside towns and villages along the way.
BEST EASTERN BEACHES (from north to south):
MUIZENBERG SUNSET BEACH AND SURFERS CORNER
Best for: swimming, learning to surf, young families and walking.
Popular among families and young surfers the long gentle waves are
perfect to learn on and swim in. Characterised by a parade of brightly
coloured bathing boxes, there is also a beach pavilion and childrens
play area. Plenty of shops, cafes and people but a little exposed
and murder in a south easter.
FISH HOEK BEACH
Best for: safe swimming, sailing, sunbathing, boogie boarding and
The warmer waters of False Bay and the safest swimming beach in the
Cape make this very popular. Nimble little hobie-cats with colourful
sails are often launched and fishing boats can sometimes be seen coming
and going. At the popular end is a café, childrens playground,
bench seats and plenty of people. At the other end are the boogie
boarders, dog owners and solitary sunbathers. It is only a short walk
from the station and the bustling little town has everything you might
need - except off-sale liquor! Fish Hoek has been 'dry' since 1810
and remains so except for a few restaurants that have recently been
Properties in Fish Hoek
BEACH, SIMONS TOWN
Best for: penguin watching, sheltered swimming and learning to snorkel.
Simons Town is a delightful quaint old navy seaport at the terminus
of the railway and the last town before Cape Point Nature Reserve.
Boulders beach is a few kilometres on from the station and taxi buses
are frequent. It now comes under the auspices of the National Parks
board so a small fee is charged to enter this delightful cove. Giant
granite boulders form several little secluded beaches and as you walk
along the path towards Foxy Beach you may be forgiven for thinking
that a donkey is being massacred in the bushes. It is in fact a Jackass
Penguin living up to its name. About 800 of these little dinner-suited
birds watch you while you watch them. Previously you could walk amongst
them but now a new raised wooden walkway gives you a good view and
protects them from clumsy feet and enthusiastic photographers. This
is the most accessible breeding colony of jackass penguins in the
world and a sight not to be missed. When the south-easter is taking
a break, scuba divers should explore Castle Rock a few kilometres
on from Boulders, to see spectacular drop offs, lots of corals and
surprisingly colourful fish.