The 4 Best Beaches in Cape Town

Heather O’Keefe is a student at Case Western Reserve University and an ISA Featured Blogger. Heather is currently studying abroad with ISA in Cape Town, South Africa.

While my family and friends in America are preparing for winter, those of us lucky enough to be Cape Town are slipping on our swim suits–or “costumes” as they say in South Africa–and religiously applying sunscreen: Summer has hit the Cape and it sure is great!

As if Cape Town didn’t already have enough diverse, adventurous, cultural, all around super cool activities, it is surrounded by dozens of beaches (the nature of establishing a city between a bay and peninsula). Coming from the cold, dark depths of Wisconsin, I relish any opportunity to feel the sand beneath my toes, breathe in the salty air as I bask in the sun, and dance amongst the playful waves.

Based upon unscientific criteria such as beauty, geographical quirkiness, water warmth, sharkiness, and overwhelming urges to burst into happy, feel good songs, here are my top four beaches in Cape Town:

1. Noordhoek Beach – I was introduced to this picturesque beach while hiking from Table Mountain to Cape Point on the Hoerikwaggo Trail. This beautiful wide, white sandy beach is 5km long and is so otherworldly in appearance that scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean were shot here. While traversing the beach at times I felt that I was in a never ending desert, but then I would look at the azure Atlantic Ocean and imagine myself on a tropical Island. Then I would turn around and look back at Chapman’s Peak, a reminder that I was in the one and only Cape Town.

Looking back over Chapman's Peak and Table Mountain National Park
Looking back over Chapman’s Peak and Table Mountain National Park
Hiking the huge Noordhoek Beach
Hiking the huge Noordhoek Beach

2. Camp Bay – This is the posh neighborhood of Cape Town. The lovely (and a little pricey) cafes that align the always buzzing beach are a great midday break from the powerful southern sun and chilly Atlantic Ocean. People from all walks of life come to Camp Bay to pretend at a life of luxury for the afternoon, so the people watching is always good! Here you can try your hand at beach volleyball, watch young street performers, or enjoy a sunset from the rocks.

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Great photos by ISA Photo Blogger Erica of us goofing around at Camp’s Bay and enjoying the sunset.

3. Clifton – Just up the road from Camp’s Bay are the secluded series of Clifton beaches. To access the beaches you have to walk down from main road along a staircase through holiday cottages, which gives one the feeling that they are on a private beach. The four beaches each have their own vibe and are separated by huge boulders. While the water is still chilly, on a warm day swimming from boulder to boulder and beach to beach is a fun, refreshing respite form the sun.

Enjoying the awesomeness that is Clifton on a warm, sunny Sunday
Enjoying the awesomeness that is Clifton on a warm, sunny Sunday

4. Muizenberg – If I had to chose a beach in Cape Town, this would be it. Muizenberg lies on the False Bay side of Cape Peninsula and due to ocean current phenomena, the water is much warmer than on the Atlantic Seaboard. The warm water and wide beach break makes Muizies a very popular spot for those learning to surf. However, Great White Sharks prefer the warmer water as well which makes swimming here a little dicey. The beach is manned with shark spotters who let beach goers know the overall safety of swimming and shark presence through a system of colored flags and sirens. If the sharks make swimming seem too scary–even though the nearby Seal Island quenches their hunger–then a walk past the brightly colored surf huts or numerous kite surfers might be more your thing.

You'll be hard pressed to not have a picturesque day at Muizenberg!
You’ll be hard pressed to not have a picturesque day at Muizenberg!

Want to read more about the Cape? Check out “How to Learn a Language in Cape Town”