The 10 best beaches in Cape Town

Decades ago, when South Africa was still a pariah, a friend remarked that Cape Town would never be an international hit. “The sea is too cold,” he said with a curled lip. “No one wants a city by the sea where all you can do is stare at the ocean.”

How wrong. Not only would the Mother City become the darling of the world, but there is also plenty of action to be seen on its beaches. Lured by white sand surrounded by granite boulders, lapped by an ocean of variegated blues, overlooked by steep mountains. And where else can you watch the sun rise over False Bay, then sink back into the Atlantic Ocean later that same day?

With an average temperature of 16-18 degrees Celsius, the waters are quite icy (note that the False Bay side is always several degrees warmer), but it’s invigorating, and for Instagram beauty the backdrops are hard to beat. Here are 10 of the best.

For more Cape Town inspiration, check out our guides to the city’s best hotels, restaurants, bars and attractions. For more inspiration, read our expert’s ultimate two-week holiday in South Africa.

Clifton Beaches

There are four beaches on Clifton

Clifton’s beaches are accessible via steps from Victoria Road

Four consecutive crescents are demarcated by boulders in the first, second, third and fourth. A little-known fifth, called Moses, can be accessed via rocks from First. Fourth and Third are overlooked by small beach bungalows on vegetated slopes that merge into a fairly dense cluster of mid-century apartments looming above First and Second.

How to get there: From Victoria Road there are several steps leading through the bungalows and apartments. The Ridge, closest to Fourth Beach, has the fewest steps. It can be busy on weekends – it’s worth booking a taxi or taking the MyCiTi 108 or 109 to Victoria Road.

Insider tip: The fourth, the largest and most accessible, is busy during the weekend: volleyball players, lifesaver trainers, cold water swimmers and a beautiful kayak trip. Kayak Clifton paddles you along the Ridge to visit the Cape Fur Seals, then into the rock pools around Maiden’s Cove; the view alone – overshadowed by Lion’s Head – is worth it.


It consists of a small, tiny Beta Beach, mostly sheltered from the wind, with huge boulders creating a wave-free bay, surrounded by water deep enough to jump into before stretching out on the sun-warmed rock. A little further away is Bali Beach, which also has calm water.

How to get there: From Victoria Road, turn into Beta Close. You’ll be lucky if you find a parking space, so take MyCiTi 108 or 109, or an Uber, and then follow the footpath between the houses to the beach.

Insider tip: There’s a Bootlegger on Victoria Road that serves good coffee and the best gluten-free bread – ask for the Hannam Fiveseed, well toasted.

Camps Bay beach

Camps Bay is the most accessible beach in Cape TownCamps Bay is the most accessible beach in Cape Town

Camps Bay is the most accessible beach in Cape Town

Depart from the city over the “Nek” and descend to a wide sandy plain flanked by a wide grassy promenade, lined with palms. Not only is it the most accessible beach in the city, but also the best place for sunset cocktails: there are bars and restaurants just across the street.

How to get there: The beach is a similar distance to that from the town to Clifton (about 10 minutes by car out of peak season) and within walking distance along Victoria Road. It’s part of the hop-on hop-off City Sightseeing bus route, or take the MyCiTi 106 and 107, or an Uber. Please note there is limited parking.

Insider tip: Camps Bay’s tidal pool, at the southern end, is one of the largest and most beautiful on the peninsula. If you’re looking for a more secluded beach, head to neighboring Glen Beach, one of the city’s most popular surfing spots.

Sunset to Blouberg beach

The first inhabitants called the flat-topped mountain Hoerikwaggo, meaning ‘Sea Mountain’, and you can see how it got its name as you walk the stretch between Sunset and Blouberg, with its postcard views over the mountain’s bay, which seems to rising straight from the sea. It is also the end point for open water swimmers who undertake the 7.0 kilometer swim from Robben Island.

How to get there: About a 20 minute drive north of the city along the R27, turn left onto Ocean Way and then onto Bay Beach Avenue; park on one of the five side streets leading to Sunset Beach.

Insider tip: Plan your walk for the morning, as the wind tends to pick up in the afternoon (Blouberg’s Big Bay is considered one of the best in the world for kite and windsurfing), then have lunch at Ons Huisie (which means ‘On Little house’) in a whitewashed 19th century building with thatched roof that has been serving customers since the 1970s.

Llandudno Beach

Llandudno has Cape Town's only nudist beachLlandudno has Cape Town's only nudist beach

Llandudno has Cape Town’s only nudist beach: Alamy

Llandudno rivals Clifton as the prettiest on the Atlantic coast and is dominated by large residential houses built on almost dizzying slopes, with no restaurants, shops or bars. Popular with surfers, dog lovers and hippies of Hout Bay. It’s not great for swimming: there’s a crack, plus a long wade through icy, shallow water.

How to get there: You can take MyCiTi bus 108 or 109 to the exit at the top of Victoria Road, but it is a long and steep walk to the beach. Due to limited parking, an Uber or taxi is recommended.

Insider tip: For an all-in-one birthday suit tan, take a 20-minute walk from Llandudno to Sandy Bay, Cape Town’s only official nudist beach (follow the signs once you get to Llandudno).


This beautiful wind-free beach, protected by the boulders of the same name, is home to the Cape colony of endangered African penguins and is one of the city’s best swimming beaches. Access is controlled (de only beach other than Buffels on this list for which an entrance fee applies) and numbers limited. With BeachAtlas’s Golden Beach Awards recently rating Boulders as the second best beach in the world, expect it to be busy.

How to get there: It is best reached by car and is just under an hour from the city center. (The Southern Line train stops at Fish Hoek, but the commuter train from here to Simon’s Town is unreliable and it’s another 30 minute walk from Simon’s Town station to Boulders.)

Insider tip: Once the day trippers have left (the gates close at 5pm), you can enjoy the beach at its best by booking a room at the fantastic Tintswalo Boulders, directly above the Boulders promenade, or rent the beautiful Baxter House and stroll to the adjacent Water’s Rand beach.


Muizenberg is the best place for surfingMuizenberg is the best place for surfing

Muizenberg is the best place for surfing – Alamy

With shallow water and a gentle, consistent break, the city’s water babies learn to surf here. The aptly named Surfers Corner is overlooked by several surf shops offering equipment and lessons, with a cluster of relaxed cafes and bar-restaurants. Brightly colored wooden bathhouses stand a little further along the beach.

How to get here: The Southern Line runs regularly between Cape Town station and Fish Hoek; get off at Lakeside and walk 10 minutes. By car it is about 35 minutes and there is plenty of parking.

Insider tip: Stroll along the “Muizenberg/St James Catwalk”, a wheelchair-friendly coastal walkway that connects Surfers Corner to Danger Beach in St James – just a few more minutes along Main Road and you’ll be in charming Kalk Bay. Stop for a dip in one of the many beautiful tide pools and watch for whales from June to November.

Long beach

What’s on the label: A wide eight-kilometer stretch of soft white sand that connects the foot of Chapmans Peak Drive in Noordhoek to the surfing beaches in the coastal town of Kommetjie. The view over Hout Bay, embraced by mountains, with the Sentinel looking out over the ocean, makes this one of the most beautiful walking beaches, and the only one where horse riding is possible.

How to get there: Although it’s less than an hour’s drive from the city, you’ll need to drive your own car, book an Uber, or take a private tour.

Insider tip: With barefoot children on skateboards and blonde, disheveled girls carrying surfboards, Kommetjie feels like a remote coastal outpost. The Long Beach, located right on the beach, is a great full-service hotel, or rent Taonga, perhaps the best located beach house in Kommetjie.

Windmill beach

Windmill Beach is one of the best diving spots in Cape TownWindmill Beach is one of the best diving spots in Cape Town

Windmill Beach is a popular diving spot in Cape Town – Alamy

The forests of giant bamboo kelp known as the Great African Marine Forest are responsible for an extraordinary biodiversity of alien marine life, and Windmill Beach is one of the best snorkeling beaches in Cape Town.

How to get there: You will also find this beach behind the golf course in Simon’s Town, south of Boulders. It can only be reached by car, but please note that parking is minimal.

Insider tip: Explore with an expert – make sure you get full equipment and the company of an excellent marine guide when you book a snorkeling expedition with Cape Town Freediving, or contact Rockhopper.

Buffalo Bay

Most visitors to Cape Point Nature Reserve (the southern part of Table Mountain National Park) rush to see the rugged southwestern tip of Africa, but there are also some top beaches – picturesque Diaz is a prime spot for walking, but also for swimming and beautiful views of False Bay, Buffels Bay, on the quieter east side, is the place.

How to get there: You should drive here in your own car or visit with a private guide and vehicle – Escape+Explore is highly recommended for its enthusiastic, well-trained guides and emphasis on family fun.

Insider tip: Adjacent to the beach is a lawn with barbecue and picnic areas. Be aware of baboons and don’t forget to wear a hat or bring an umbrella, as there is no shade. The coastal path along the rocky coastline to Antoniesgat is a beautiful two-hour circular walk.

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