Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula have two glittering coastlines with a beach to suit every mood and moment. Whether you’re after buzzing beachside bars, secluded coves, safe swimming beaches or a romantic spot for a sunset picnic, our guide to Cape Town’s best beaches will point you in the right direction.

CLIFTON BEACHES

Best for: sheltered sunbathing, seeing and being seen, sunset picnics

It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the city centre to any of Clifton’s four beaches. Coves of soft white sand separated by giant boulders that protect them from summer’s ‘Southeaster’  wind, each beach attracts a slightly different crowd though undoubtedly the most popular is Clifton 4th Beach.

In many ways it is the unofficial playground of the rich and beautiful but Clifton 4th is a classic Cape Town beach with a great holiday atmosphere. Toned bodies soak up the sunshine, vendors wander back and forth selling cold drinks and ice lollies, yachts bob about on the aquamarine ocean – just remember that the Atlantic Ocean here is usually quite cold and you won’t be doing much swimming.

Cape Town's Best Beaches

Popular Clifton 4th Beach is the playground for the rich & beautiful.

On balmy summer evenings locals love to round off the day with a sunset picnic on a Clifton beach. Head down in the late afternoon and you’ll find a festive atmosphere with blankets spread out on the sand, baskets stuffed with deli-bought goodies and candles ready to burn late into the night. Just be warned: it’s illegal to drink alcohol on Cape Town beaches (and these popular beaches are effectively policed) and you’ll have to carry all your stuff down from the car park – and back up again – via a long series of steep steps so pack light.

Best for: family fun, sunbathing, beach volleyball, sunset cocktails

Just down the road from Clifton you’ll find the gently curving crescent of Camps Bay – the best known beach on the Cape Town coast. Both locals and visitors flock to this palm-lined strip for people watching, to play beach bats or volleyball, walk their dogs or catch a tan while gazing up at the dramatic peaks of the Twelve Apostles range, part of Table Mountain.

If the wind picks up, nip across the road to one of many restaurants, cafes or fashionable bars where Cape Town’s beautiful people dine on seafood and salad or sip chilled local wine. On peak summer days these restaurants spill out onto the pavements, creating a wonderfully laid-back Mediterranean ambience.

Cape Town's Best Beaches

It’s an easy transition from the broad beach to busy cafes in Camps Bay.

LLANDUDNO

Best for: beach picnics, surfing, body boarding, a local favourite

Twenty kilometres south of Cape Town on the way to Hout Bay, Llandudno may be a bit off the beaten track but this spectacular beach is certainly a favourite among locals. A narrow road winds its way down through an exclusive hillside neighbourhood to a soft sandy cove where you’ll find children building sandcastles, groups of friends playing beach bats and Frisbee, surfers carving patterns on the waves and waggy-tailed dogs bounding about.

As with all the beaches along the Atlantic coastline the sea is so refreshing it can make your skin tingle. However, it’s also a great spot to watch the sunset so take snacks (there are no shops) and a beach umbrella and look forward to serious sunbathing followed by a romantic beach picnic.

 

Cape Town's Best Beaches

Llandudno Beach is a favourite with locals & is perfect for sunset picnics.

BOULDERS BEACH

Best for: penguin watching, family fun, safe swimming, snorkelling

For a Cape Town beach with a unique twist head to Boulders Beach; its soft sand and slightly warmer sea (Boulders is on the Indian Ocean’s False Bay coastline) are home to a large colony of endangered African penguins. These endearing birds have become minor celebrities and visitors flock to watch them strut their stuff between the hulking granite boulders – a highly entertaining sight to see.

Boulders Beach lies about 40km south of Cape Town, just beyond the naval base in picturesque Simon’s Town, which makes it a great stop on the way to Cape Point. If you’re travelling with kids, pack a picnic and plan to stay awhile as this is sure to be one of their holiday highlights.

Cape Town's Best Beaches

Watch African penguins strut their stuff at Boulders Beach.

credit: go2africa.com

Cape-Point_Bruce-Sutherland-City-of-Cape-Town_480_320_80_s

Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 m above the sea and cutting deep into the ocean provide a spectacular background for the Parks’ rich bio-diversity. Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park. The natural vegetation of the area, fynbos, comprises the smallest but richest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. The scenic beauty of Cape Point is not its sole allure; it is also an international icon of great historical interest with many a visitor drawn to the area because of its rich maritime history.

cape-point-lighthouse

The new lighthouse is at a lower elevation (87 meters; 285.5 feet above sea level), for two reasons: the old lighthouse, located at 34°21′14″S 18°29′25″E, could be seen ‘too early’ by ships rounding the point towards the east, causing them to approach too closely. Secondly, foggy conditions often prevail at the higher levels, making the older lighthouse invisible to shipping. On 18 April 1911, the Portuguese liner Lusitania was wrecked just south of Cape Point at 34°23′22″S 18°29′23″E on Bellows Rock for precisely this reason, prompting the relocation of the lighthouse.

Cape_Point_Lighthouse_1_380_570_80

The new lighthouse, located at 34°21′26″S 18°29′49″E, cannot be seen from the West until ships are at a safe distance to the South.

attraction-cape-point

Dramatically surrounded by sheer craggy cliffs, Diaz Beach is situated right at the tip of Cape Point on the western side. It deserves its reputation as one of the most scenically stunning Cape Town beaches. Access to this beach is down a series of wooden stairs and only takes about 20 minutes.Swimming on this beach can be dangerous. Diaz Beach can produce excellent waves with a North Westerly wind and the right swell direction. Surfers love it for its big, hollow, closeout barrels. Photographers love it for its awesome beauty and many moods. Couples love it for romantic beach walks.