The coastline of the Cape, with its inlets and outcrops, soaring mountains and giant boulders, boasts a range of beaches that you’ll find hard to beat. And then there’s the fact that two major oceans embrace either side of the coastline and create two separate experiences for the enthusiastic beach goer.
Indian Ocean Beaches
The beaches on the Indian side are meant for family fun. Here children splash in the shallows, body surfers catch the waves sans wetsuits, and grannies in floral bathing caps do laps just beyond the breakers. From Strand, Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek to Simon’s Town, the water is balmy and user-friendly.
However, this is still the ocean, and it can be treacherous. Visitors must always look out for the flags: the ones that demarcate safe swimming areas, and the ones that indicate the presence of sharks.
Shark spotters are positioned at strategic points along the Cape Peninsula, primarily along the False Bay coastline. A spotter is placed on the mountain with polarised sunglasses and binoculars. This spotter is in radio contact with another spotter on the beach. If a shark is seen the beach spotter sounds a siren and raises a white flag with a black shark. When the siren sounds the water users are requested to leave the water and only return when the appropriate all clear signal is given.
Atlantic Ocean Beaches
The beaches on the Atlantic side have one thing in common: the water is icy! Icy as in turn-your-toes-blue-instantly. Cold as in take-your-breath-away.
But these are the beaches where the bold and beautiful flock to. Camps Bay, Clifton, Bakoven, Llandudno – here the cool people of the world congregate to show off bodies and tans. Understandingly, here it’s more about sun worshipping than swimming, and it’s done in earnest: with deck chairs and umbrellas, designer bikinis and panama hats.
Only a brave few will take on the water, and only if it’s searingly hot.
More out of the way beaches
Drive a little further and you’ll find beaches that are less packed. Towards the North there’s Melkbos and Blouberg beaches, with their amazing views of Table Mountain across the bay. to the south the long, endless white Noordhoek beach and Long Beach, a famous surfers’ hangout, are perfect for long, uninterrupted walks.
Across False Bay is the Strand, the best of family beaches, where the ocean is family-friendly and warm. Gordon’s Bay has a beautiful cove that is often protected against the Southeaster.
Blue Flag Beaches
Cape Town boasts a host of Blue Flag beaches. A Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches that meet excellence in the areas of safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards.
The Blue Flag beaches for the 2016/2017 summer season are Bikini Beach (Gordon’s Bay), Camps Bay, Clifton 4th Beach, Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein Beach, Llandudno and Silwerstroomstrand.