Cape Town has some of the finest beaches in South Africa, proven by its high concentration of Blue Flag beaches dotted around the coastline. Each beach has its own atmosphere, like a personality that attracts certain people. Whatever your preferences, there will be a beach that suits your needs somewhere along the Western Cape coast.
Some beaches attract large crowds, others offer quiet and private spots. Some are surfers’ hotspots, others have no waves at all. If you’re looking for the perfect balance between waves, sand, people and shelter, then here is a comprehensive list of the top beaches to visit in Cape Town and the Western Cape (in alphabetical order).
This long stretch of golden sand can be found on the northern edge of Table Bay, stretching about 10 kilometres between Bloubergstrand and Milnerton. Blouberg Beach is a kiteboarder’s paradise – the strong offshore winds large waves often attract hundreds of surfers and kiteboarders to the beach at the start of summer. If you enjoy the ocean waves, then this beach is a must-see in Cape Town.
Blouberg does not get too crowded because of its sheer length. It is easy to find a spacious spot to relax in the sun when you have 10km of beach to use. There are a number of seaside bars and restaurants along the beach that are frequented by holidaymakers and beachgoers. Blouberg also offers the best views of Table Mountain from across the bay.
This little beach in Simon’s Town is famous for its colony of wild African penguins. Visitors have to pay to enter the beach as it is a nature reserve, but being able to relax on a towel right next to nesting penguins is something truly unique. There are large granite boulders that break the beach up into small nooks. This offers beachgoers plenty of private spots for a peaceful day in the sun.
Boulders Beach has no waves due to the massive rocks in the water, so it is perfect for small kids who want to splash around without getting knocked over. This beach is idyllic for nature lovers that don’t mind sharing the sand with some feathered friends. It also presents visitors with some pretty fun photo opportunities with the penguins – just don’t get too close because they can bite.
One of the most well-known beaches in Cape Town, Camps Bay is a buzzing hive of activity during summer. The white sands sit proudly under the towering Twelve Apostles and Lion’s Head – a surreal backdrop for any beach. The rich and famous often frequent Camps Bay as it is the beach on which to be seen. If you don’t mind crowds of people, then Camps Bay is the perfect spot.
There are often games of beach volleyball and football being played on the soft sand. Vendors walk around with quirky quips to sell delicious granadilla ice lollies and cool drinks. Once you’ve had enough of the sand and salt, you can walk over the road and stop by a number of world-class bars and restaurants for sundowner cocktail or a delicious meal.
Clifton 3rd and 4th
Although there are four Clifton beaches, 3rd and 4th Beach are probably the best. The four beaches are separated by granite outcrops and boulders, but it is possible to walk from one to the next. Clifton 4th is the busiest of the lot, attracting hundreds of people every day in summer. Clifton 3rd is much quieter but it is also a bit smaller.
If you love a social sports match of the beach or an electric atmosphere, then Clifton 4th is the spot for you. For those visitors who prefer a more relaxed day on the beach with few distractions, then Clifton 3rd is the better choice. Both beaches have vendors selling ice lollies and cool drinks, but 4th Beach has ablutions and a small café.
This family-friendly beach is situated in the quiet seaside suburb of Fish Hoek. It is perfect for families with small children as the waves are small enough to play in when the tide is receding. Fish Hoek is home to plenty of seagulls and the local fishing community can often be seen launching their boats from the beach in the mornings.
A seaside café sits on the southern end of the beach, offering visitors plenty of drink options and tasty treats. This café is also the perfect spot for a coffee after an early morning walk along Fish Hoek beach. The southern railway line winds its way behind the beach, giving visitors a unique look at the yellow-and-grey train as it rumbles towards Simon’s Town.
Kommetjie beach is the smaller sibling of Noordhoek beach but offers guests an equally-amazing day in the sun. There is a large kelp reef just offshore that is perfect for snorkelers and swimmers looking for some underwater adventures. A number of sea creatures can be seen swimming in and around the long kelp vines, including seals.
Kommetjie is also a great spot for surfers who prefer quiet waters and waves for themselves. These waves are a decent size, but surfers need to watch out for the kelp vines and small patches of rock when visiting Kommetjie. It is also a dog-friendly beach, so visitors with furry friends can take them along for some fun on the sand.
This small beach is nestled between Hout Bay and Camps Bay. It is a secluded beach, flanked by large granite outcrops on either side that offer shelter from the wind and channel the waves onshore. Llandudno is popular with surfers as the boulders on either side of the beach create large waves. It is a quieter beach than Camps Bay, so it’s an amazing spot for visitors who prefer their own space.
Parking at Llandudno can be difficult to find, so expect to walk a few hundred metres to get down to the sand. Once there though, the trip will be worth it. Llandudno has a long stretch of sand before the water, so finding a spot to set-up is not hard. It’s a brilliant little beach, only a short drive from the city centre along one of the most scenic roads in the region.
Ask a surfer where the best beach is and they will tell you to go to Muizenberg. This sandy beach stretches for a few kilometres at the northern edge of False Bay. The vast length and prevailing onshore winds create the ideal surfing conditions – space and big waves. Muizenberg is also the best place for beginners to learn how to surf. A number of surf schools can be found on the beachfront.
This beach is also great for holidaymakers staying in the Southern Suburbs. It offers plenty of parking space, numerous seaside cafés and a few restaurants to relax at, after a day in the surf. Muizenberg also has a swimming pool, putt-putt (mini-golf) and a water slide for those visitors looking for something different.
This quaint seaside village is located some 130 kilometres north of Cape Town, but the drive is well worth the adventure. Paternoster is a traditional fishing community. When you arrive, you will think that you are on a small Greek island; the incredible white cottages with blue shutters look like a Mediterranean village. Paternoster is a quiet beach with almost no waves, which is why it is one of the oldest fishing communities in South Africa.
This lovely little community is very hospitable and guests have no shortage of incredible restaurants to eat at. In fact, one of the restaurants there, called Wolfgat, was named the best restaurant in the world at the World Restaurant Awards held in Paris. The beach is perfect for families and young couples looking for something unique during their stay in the Western Cape.
St James Beach
This small beach is a photographer’s dream. A long row of brightly-coloured beach huts sit neatly at the southern edge of the beach, giving photographers a chance to snap some incredible pics using the reflections in the rock pools. St James beach is located between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay.
It is quite a rocky beach, but kids love it because they get to explore the tidal pools and find some critters amongst the rocks. St James takes its name from the St James Catholic Church that was built in the suburb in 1880. The red, blue, yellow and green Victorian-style beach cabins are the highlight on the beach, but St James still offers a day of family fun, exploration and relaxation.
Header image: Joshua Oates
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