Two oceans, thousands of coastal miles with many seaside destinations, the beaches of the Western Cape are as beautiful, colourful and diverse as the people who populate them.
A visit to Cape Town and the Western Cape is not complete without a visit to any one of the many wonderful beaches we have. The beaches of Cape Town's Atlantic seaboard attract mostly swimmers, paddlers and sun worshippers.
Diving: Scuba & Snorkelling
If you can imagine diving with the notorious Great White Shark or being followed by boisterous baby whales then the Cape is the place to be. While the Cape
is fast making a name for itself as the premier place on the planet for viewing - and diving with - Great White sharks
, there is plenty else to see.
There are plenty of tiny critters to keep one interested and a day in the water can be spent inspecting old shipwrecks. The Cape coast is certainly treacherous, and probably has the most unexplored wrecks. Even shallow waters hold plenty to discover - novice scuba divers can find themselves sifting through China and silver cutlery on one of their qualifying dives.
First time divers can earn their international dive qualification in Cape waters while exploring the magnitude of sights the big blue has to offer. An extremely competitive scuba industry ensures that prices are low and service good, with tight regulation ensuring safety. And once again the double-sided coastline comes in useful: there's generally a good spot to dive on some part of the coast, whatever the prevailing wind and weather.
Conservation ethics quite rightly outlaw diving for crayfish
or lobster on scuba. One can however catch these tasty predators by hand on snorkel. Permits
for catching limited quantities of the delicacy are easily obtained within the strictly-regulated season, and eager locals will not only show you the traditional way of cooking the lobster, but suggest the best of the Cape's fine wines to accompany it.
Local mainstream radio stations carry surf reports alongside their traffic news. The Cape has waves to suit all tastes and abilities, from the gentle rollers that cruise into Muizenberg to the huge monsters that storm in from the Antarctic each year to hit the infamous offshore reef outside Hout Bay known as Dungeons.
Lifesavers can be found on their post on most beaches during summer, with safe swimming and body surfing areas demarcated, and separate areas set aside for the surfers:
- the long boarders and beginners will enjoy Muizenberg's Surfers' Corner,
- the best short boarding spot can be found at Big Bay Bloubergstrand;
While most wave riders choose to wear wetsuits, the mild Mediterranean climate ensures the temperature is never too chilly - in fact the waters of False Bay are often clearer and warmer in winter than in summer, and surfing lore has it that mid-year is often the best time to surf at the Cape.
Windsurfing & Kite boarding
The beauty of the Cape's geography is that, whatever the prevailing wind, there's a coastline in sweet opposition to it - west, south or east. And it's so common for kite/windsurfers to walk out of the water with stories of flying amongst schools of leaping dolphins or families of lolling whales, the listeners hardly take notice. "Just another day in Africa," is the usual response.
Popular sailing and kiting spots include Blouwberg's Dolphin Beach or the beaches of False Bay
Whether it's salt- or freshwater and you're a fighter or philosopher, welcome to the Cape, where fishing is more than sport, it's part of a heritage.
- Experience the thrill of fighting the gladiator of the deep, the broadbill swordfish.
- Try your hand at recreational fishing at the harbour walls of Kalk Bay, Gordon's Bay
False Bay Beaches
The Cape Town False Bay coast is the area from Cape Point in the west to Gordon's Bay in the east. Towns and villages within this area are Cape Point, Simon's Town, Glencairn, Fish Hoek, Clovelley, Kalk Bay, St James, Muizenberg, Lakeside, Strandfontein, Somerset West, Strand and Gordon's Bay. These towns and villages are extremely popular during the whale season (June to November) and during the summer months (December to March).
The False Bay coast offers something for everyone, from fishing villages with antique shops to towns with vineyards and one of the biggest shopping malls in Cape Town. The activities are as varied, from birding and sunset cruises to diving and surfing. The restaurants, coffee shops and pubs offer variety and culinary delights, settings and ambience.
Muizenberg is situated in the north-west corner of False Bay. Muizenberg has miles of white sand beach which is popular amongst bathers, anglers and surfers. Surfers Corner is a popular surfing spot for beginners and long-boarders. Muizenberg train station is situated on the rocks above the beach. The Muizenberg Pavilion has swimming pools, a water slide and a putt-putt course.
The historical "mile" is a fascinating stretch of varied architectural styles - many buildings are national monuments and bear witness to Muizenberg's rich and flamboyant past.
The Muizenberg/St James walkway that runs along the shoreline is popular with both locals and visitors.
St James is a small village situated between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay on the False Bay coast. The beach area is characterised by colourful Victorian bathing boxes and a tidal pool. The beach is accessible by public transport as St James train station is at the beach. The views on to False Bay are magnificent especially from Boyes Drive. Whales are often spotted (June to November).
Kalk Bay is a fishing village along the Cape Town False Bay coast where fresh fish can be bought from the fishermen on most days. The harbour offers a number of excellent seafood restaurants and fishing charters and boats cruises can also be organised. The beach is popular amongst the locals as it is accessible by train. Kalk Bay Main Road is an interesting combination of deli's, antique stores, second-hand bookshops and art galleries Explore the interesting lanes for delightful discoveries. There are some excellent restaurants and pubs close to the sea. A charming theatre offers top quality local productions.
Fish Hoek boasts a long stretch of a white sandy beach, and is one of the safest and warmest swimming beaches in the Cape. You can take a relaxing stroll down Jager's walk, which runs along the mountainside of Fish Hoek beach. Jager's Walk, a pathway along the rocky coastline takes the visitor as far as Sunny Cove where visitors can view the dolphins and whales that visit these shores annually. The beach has a playground for children, a refreshment kiosk and restaurant. The magnificent beach, reached through a secure parking area, is great for swimming, snorkeling, hobby-cat sailing and paddle-skiing. Visitors are sometimes treated to the sight of the local fishermen 'trekking' for haarders and yellowtail fish off Fish Hoek beach.
From late August the Great Southern Right Whales visit our Oceans and entertain thousands of spectators each year as they come close to shore to calf their babies and can often be seen frolicking in the bay. The elevated roads and parking bays provide excellent viewing sites.
Simon's Town is an important SA Navy Base. The South African Naval Museum, the Simon's Town Museum and the Heritage Museum offer the visitor a fascinating overview of the heritage of this area. Visit the grave of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, the Great Dane who was the darling of the British Royal Navy and the only dog in its history to receive a rank. There are many beaches that are popular amongst bathers, anglers, water sport enthusiasts and families. Simon's Town is well known for its land-based colony of African Penguins that can be viewed at Boulders and Foxy Beach.
With its old-style charm, narrow streets and bustling waterfront, Gordon's Bay is set against the steep mountains of the Helderberg. The sheltered water of this picturesque cove welcomes sailors, surfers, fishermen, water-skiers and windsurfers from around the world. Bikini Beach is popular amongst younger people who enjoy water sports, beach volleyball and sunbathing. Gordon's Bay main beach is a white sand beach popular with families.
Designated whale watching spots have been set up along Clarence Drive, the scenic coastal road from Gordon's Bay to Betty's Bay, where Southern Right whales visit the Cape's sheltered shallow bays between June and November. For the true romantics, take an evening stroll along the harbour wall or a sunset cruise from the old harbour. The harbour also offer a number of excellent seafood restaurants.
Hout Bay has a working harbour, beautiful family- friendly beaches, fantastic restaurants overlooking the ocean, and also boasts the World of Birds, the largest bird park in Africa. Harbour cruises to Duiker Island and the V&A Waterfront can be booked at the harbour.
Bloubergstrand is situated on the on the Blouberg Coast about a 20 minute drive from the Cape Town city centre and about a 30 minute drive from Cape Town International Airport. It is the gateway to the seafood mecca of the Cape West Coast.
Bloubergstrand offers one of the best views of Table Mountain. This is the view that is often shown on postcards and pictures.
The white sand beach is ideal for a refreshing swim in the Atlantic Ocean, windsurfing and kite surfing. Big Bay is a surfers' paradise and hosts several national and international competitions. Little Bay is a nice family beach and suitable for sunbathers. There are also a number of places for surf anglers.
In Bloubergstrand visitors can dine in an original fisherman's cottage at the waters edge while enjoying a beautiful sunset.
Noordhoek, with its delightful village atmosphere is situated at the foot of Chapman's Peak with awesome mountain and sea views.
Breathtaking views of Chapman's Peak and Noordhoek Beach can be experienced from horseback. Visit the Kakapo shipwreck and watch indigenous bird life on one of the Cape's most beautiful beaches. Knowledgeable guides and well-behaved horses will ensure this to be an experience of a lifetime.
Contact Sleepy Hollow for more information
Tel: 0217892341 or 0832610104
Other beaches around the Cape Town area which are definitely worthwhile going to sunbathing and swimming include:
- Camps Bay
- Sandy Bay ( Nudist beach)