With jaw-dropping sights like Table Mountain and dreamy landscapes in the Cape Winelands, it’s no surprise that Cape Town, recently awarded “The Greatest City on Earth” in the 2023 Telegraph Travel Awards, also boasts some of the world’s most stunning beaches. From hidden coves nestled amidst majestic granite boulders to serene tidal pools reminiscent of the Mediterranean, Cape Town is the ultimate paradise.
Cape Town’s coastline is a blend of contrasting landscapes, from breathtaking cliff faces to expansive stretches of soft, white sand. The coastline effortlessly alternates between untamed, secluded spots and Mediterranean-style beaches. The waters are deceivingly inviting though, flowing with currents from the Antarctic stream. Alongside captivating natural scenery, Cape Town’s beaches thrive with vibrant activity. Lively sidewalk cafés and bars line the promenade, attracting a constant buzz of excitement. During the summer, when daylight extends well past 9:00 pm, the shores teem with Capetonians embracing the lively coastal culture. Here are what we think are the best beaches in Cape Town…
Camps Bay Beach
Camps Bay Beach is nestled against the majestic Twelve Apostles Mountain Range and captures the essence of coastal beauty. Its stretch of crisp white sand invites you to kick off your shoes and spend a few hours with a book under the shade of an umbrella. Amble your way across to the strip of restaurants and cafes, where you’ll be welcomed with sandy feet and salty hair, before returning to your beach chair for round two. Bear in mind that the strong current and icy cold water temperature makes the beach more popular for sunbathing and beach sports than swimming. For a more serene swim, head to the nearby tidal pool or navigate past the iconic boulders in the opposite direction to reach the quiet and secluded Glen Beach. Be sure to return to Camps Bay beach at sunset when it transforms into a magical postcard-like setting.
Bali and Beta Beaches
If you’re based in Camps Bay and craving a peaceful beach day away from the crowds, visit the hidden gem of Bakoven. Bakoven offers a collection of secret coves and tranquil pools tucked away just next door, perfect for a serene escape. Nestled between majestic boulders, you’ll discover two secluded spots that feel like your private slice of heaven—Bali Beach (or Robyn’s Beach) and Beta Beach. To reach Bali Beach, walk along the coastline from Camps Bay tidal pool and descend a few steps to the sparkling cove below. Further along, you’ll find Beta Beach, accessible from Beta Road. Once you’ve parked, follow the signs and indulge in a blissful setting.
Between Hout Bay and Camps Bay on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, Llandudno Beach is just 15 minutes from the city center. It’s one of Cape Town’s most popular beaches and a family favorite. Giant, weather-worn boulders flank the little crescent of white sand that forms Llandudno Beach. Its stunning backdrop is of steeply rising mountains, with one of Cape Town’s most exclusive neighborhoods clinging to the lower slopes. There isn’t an awful lot in Llandudno, so pack a picnic. The beach is west facing—excellent for taking in the sunset. Note: The sea can get rough here, but there’s a lifeguard service throughout the summer.
Renowned for its four pristine beaches, Clifton 4th, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st, this seaside haven offers unparalleled beauty. Though smaller than Camps Bay, these beaches are well worth the 100-step descent to reach them. Clifton 4th, the largest and favorite of the four, attracts families and groups seeking a fun beach day. It offers family-friendly amenities plus ample space for sunbathing and beach games. With a calmer ambiance, Clifton 3rd appeals to beachgoers looking for peace and quiet. Clifton 2nd offers the best of both worlds—it caters to both relaxation and socializing, making it a popular choice for everyone. Clifton 1st, the beach closest to Sea Point, completes the quartet—although smaller than the others, it offers a more exclusive experience to appreciate the breathtaking views. The near absence of wind also makes Clifton’s beaches the ideal retreat on days when the notorious South Easterly sweeps through the rest of the city.
Cherished for its hidden charm, Dalebrook holds a special place among locals. Lying alongside Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, St James, and Danger Beach in False Bay, this beach and tidal pool are a well-kept secret. To reach it, you’ll venture through a small tunnel under the railway line and emerge to find a glorious expanse of sand waiting for you. Compared to its more sociable counterpart, Saint James tidal pool, Dalebrook offers a sheltered haven that is rarely crowded. Its cleverly constructed concrete walls allow waves to break gently, creating a safe and enjoyable swim. On your way back, treat yourself to a delightful coffee and pastry from Dalebrook Café, or take a trip to nearby Kalk Bay (a 10-minute walk) for a leisurely lunch. This little gem is surely one of the best beaches in Cape Town.
Watch as the breathtaking vistas of Noordhoek Beach unfold before your eyes as you descend from Chapman’s Peak Drive—the view from above is simply mind-blowing. With pristine white sand that seems to stretch endlessly, it’s no wonder that Noordhoek Beach is a popular destination for dog-walking and horse riding enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned equestrian or a beginner, the adventure along the untouched shoreline promises to be an exhilarating experience. The familiar strong wind makes it ideal for kite-surfing, while surfers don wetsuits to cushion against the refreshing chill of the Atlantic.
Nestled within Cape Point Nature Reserve, Diaz Beach is a hidden treasure that extends as far as the eye can see. With stunning waters and dramatic cliffs over 650 feet high, it’s truly a sight to behold. The 20-minute walk down a series of wooden steps is worth every step. Watch as surfers ride the clean six-foot shore break, and while the water might tempt you for a swim, the currents can be quite strong. Instead, stroll around the cliff at the far end of the beach to visit the resident seal colony. Diaz Beach is a peaceful retreat, but look out for mischievous baboons who may want to get their hands on your belongings.
If you’re looking for a place with the friendliest residents, look no further than Boulders Beach. The charismatic colony of African Jackass Penguins that call Boulders Beach home are endemic to the Cape region. An essential breeding ground for a 3000-strong colony lies along this stretch of coastline, highlighting the importance of conservation in the area. The adorable penguins will steal your heart—just remember to respect their space and take photos from a reasonable distance. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the wooden boardwalk that winds along the dense coastal vegetation, with breathtaking ocean views and the impressive boulders that give this stunning beach its name.
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