Sitting right next door to Cape Town’s other premiere beach (Camps Bay) is Clifton beach. The backdrop here is equally stunning with one of Cape Town’s best known mountains, Lion’s Head, rising up directly behind and the Twelve Apostles looming to the south. The sugar-white sand that forms Clifton is dived up into four, just about distinct, beaches. These are rather imaginatively named 1st to 4th beaches and are basically the same beach with a few granite boulders separating each of them. 4th beach is closest to Camps Bay and is the least built up; it has also been awarded the Blue Flag award for its cleanliness and range of amenities.
There is actually a 5th beach at Clifton and this is (obviously) situated right next to First beach! However, Moses Beach as it is known, is rather transient and disappears and reappears as the sand is deposited through the seasons. The winds and resulting flow of sand are a bit of a feature with Clifton; during the winter the strong north-westerly winds cause a large amount of sand to be stripped from the beach. In the summer months a prevailing south-easterly causes the sand to be piled up.
These seasonal winds also give rise to an unusual quirk regarding the water temperatures. Despite being sheltered from the breeze the water at Clifton is often at its coldest in Summer, barely reaching 10°C (50°F). In winter, however, sea temperatures can be almost double this!
Each of Clifton’s beaches has a slightly different character. First beach is the most popular with surfers with the waves becoming progressively smaller towards 4th beach. This allows yachts and small boats to anchor off Fourth beach during the summer, giving it an upmarket lift. Third beach isn’t just Camp by name and is particularly popular amongst the gay community, whilst 2nd beach draws a student crowd.
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