The Beach Guide

Top 25+ Western Cape Beaches

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Some geologists believe that the area we know today as Cape Town once formed part of an island that lay just offshore at the extreme southwestern tip of the African continent. Evidence includes a stretch of below sea-level land known as the Cape Flats, which extends from Woodstock - a popular bathing beach in Table Bay in Victorian times - to Muizenberg, about 30 kilometres south of the city in False Bay. Shells recovered from this sandy corridor also support the island theory, before the tides receded and the island united with mainland Africa.

Imagine the view mainland landlubbers may have enjoyed of majestic Table Mountain rising some 3,000 feet sheer from the Atlantic Ocean, with oft-stormy seas separating island from mainland. Today, Cape Town forms an integral part of the South African landscape and the Cape Peninsula is a wonderland of nature that officially starts from Kommetjie in the west and Fish Hoek in the east. This magnificent isthmus continues south and embraces the Atlantic Ocean on its western flank and beautiful False Bay along its eastern shoreline. Spectacular Cape Point forms the southern boundary as the African Continent meets the tempestuous Atlantic Ocean.

Keep heading south from here and you will eventually arrive in Antarctica. The Cape Peninsula is a proclaimed nature reserve, which means no development can ever spoil it. Cape Point at the southern-most tip of the peninsula is where Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias stepped ashore in 1488, proclaiming it "The Cape of Good Hope" as he pursued a route to the east for King and Country.

With beauty in abundance, the Cape Peninsula has an unusually rich biodiversity. Its vegetation consists predominantly of several different types of unique Cape Fynbos, with the crown-like king protea topping the list of floral stunners. The Cape Peninsula forms only a tiny portion of Africa, but it is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora. Majestic mountains and pristine beaches at their feet complete the spectacular landscape along the southwestern-most tip of Africa.

  • Clifton Beach

    Clifton Beach
    © Philip Massie

    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… read more »

  • Hout Bay

    Hout Bay
    © Werner L

    Hout Bay (in English, it means 'Wood Bay') is a picturesque resort and fishing port that lies 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of the city of Cape Town. Surrounded by magnificent mountains on all but one side, Hout Bay backs onto the famous Table Mountain National Park to the north and majestic Chapman's Peak range to the south. The dramatic Sentinel watches over proceeding to… read more »

  • Camps Bay

    Camps Bay
    © jborzicchi

    Camps Bay is without doubt Cape Town's premiere beach. Located in an upmarket suburb of this South African city, the beach here is as spectacular as it is popular. The palm fringed stretch of white sand that make up Camps Bay sits between the towering Lion's Head and equally imposing Twelve Apostles. This is the Atlantic coast and the ocean here is both beautiful and… read more »

  • Boulders Beach

    Boulders Beach

    Situated on the western side of Cape Town's False Bay is the delightful sheltered cove of Boulders Beach. Crystal clear water meets soft white sand in a series of little "covelets" between enormous, weather worn granite boulders which date back half a billion years.

    Boulders is undoubtedly one of Cape Town's finest beaches, but that isn't why it is also one of South Africa's best… read more »

  • Llandudno Beach

    Llandudno Beach
    © Gorillabutter / CC BY

    Set between Hout Bay and Camps Bay on Cape Town's Atlantic Seaboard, Llandudno Beach is only about 15 minutes from the city centre. Unsurprisingly, this is one of Cape Town's most popular beaches and is a particular favourite with families.

    The pretty little crescent of white sand that forms Llandudno beach is flanked by giant, weather-worn boulders. To the rear of the beach is a stunning… read more »

  • Noordhoek

    Noordhoek
    © Andrew massyn

    Located at the foot of Chapman's Peak at the base of the Cape Peninsula are the expansive sands of Noordhoek beach. This picturesque stretch of sand runs for eight kilometre (5 mile) between the suburb of Noordhoek towards Kommetjie lighthouse.

    Given its wide, open and exposed nature it is often quite breezy at Noordhoek. This makes it a good spot for a range of kite-based activities… read more »

  • Bloubergstrand

    Bloubergstrand
    © SkyPixels / CC BY

    Bloubergstrand is a suburb of on the northern fringes of Cape Town. Its meaning is literally "Blue Mountain Beach", which is owed to the fact that in the middle of the day, the rising oil on the eucalyptus leaves refracts the sun and makes the haze look blue from a distance.

    The "mountain" part refers to Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain which can clearly… read more »

  • Paternoster beach

    Paternoster beach
    © Adele Van Schalkwyk

    Paternoster is a small, laid back fishing village within a stones throw (well, 150km) of Cape Town. With its attractive cluster of whitewashed cottages and long sweep of pristine sand it is little surprise this is a popular weekend getaway spot for Capetonians. If you are a fan of seafood and like long walks on white sand beaches, watching the sun set, then Paternoster is… read more »

  • Scarborough

    Scarborough
    © SkyPixels / CC BY

    Sitting on Cape Town's exposed Atlantic Seaboard, at the base of the long finger-like peninsula which extends to the Cape of Good Hope, is the little beachside village of Scarborough. Despite being only a short drive from the city the beach here feels pretty wild and sits on the edge of the Cape Point Nature Reserve. The large swathe of white sand beach is backed… read more »

  • Muizenberg

    Muizenberg

    Sitting at the western end of the huge curve of sand that make up False Bay, Muizenberg is rightfully one of Cape Town's best known beaches. The beach is around 200 metres of soft white sand which backs onto the laid back seaside town of Muizenberg.

    The sandy stretch which forms the northern shore of False bay itself goes on for ever. Well around 40km… read more »

  • Sandy Bay

    Sandy Bay
    © Gary Bembridge / CC BY

    One of Cape Town's most inacessible beaches it is not entirely surprising that Sandy Bay is also Cape Town's only recognised naturist beach (although it is still unofficial). The beach is located just around the corner from upmarket Llandudno at the base of the rugged peaks of the Twelve Apostles mountains.

    Like neighbouring Llandudno, Sandy Bay is a pretty stretch of white sand strewn with… read more »

  • Seaforth Beach

    Seaforth Beach
    © Kostas Limitsios / CC BY
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  • St James Beach

    St James Beach
    © Lennon Fletcher / CC BY

    The Cape Town suburb of St James is located on the western side of False Bay, at the base of the Cape Peninsula. The name relates to the Roman Catholic churhc of St James which was built here in the 19th century for the Filipino fishermen who worked from adjoining Kalk Bay. With the coming of the railway the area flourished, bcoming something of a… read more »

  • Brenton-on-Sea

    Brenton-on-Sea
    © Meraj Chhaya / CC BY
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  • Buffalo Bay

    Buffalo Bay
    © Werner Bayer / CC BY

    Buffalo Bay, or Buffelsbaai, is found in the Goukamma Nature Reserve in the Western Cape. Stretching for 14 kilometers this vast beach has incredible white sand and dunes which contrast with the beautiful blue waters of the ocean. With a backdrop of coastal forest the beach here really can feel like a lost paradise.

    The beach has plenty of activities to choose from making it… read more »