The 25+ Best 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.

  • 1. 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 powerful; sparkling and turquoise often… read more »

  • 2. 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 backdrop of steeply rising mountains… read more »

  • 3. 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 known. It is actually due… read more »

  • 4. Clifton Beach

    Clifton Beach
    © Philip Massie
    Great for:
    • Surfing

    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… read more »

  • 5. 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 the west and protects town… read more »

  • 6. Fish Hoek

    Fish Hoek
    © Derek Keats / CC BY
    Great for:
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    Offering a wide, flat expanse of white sand running for 1.5 kilometres in length, Fish Hoek Beach lies in the town of the same name on False Bay on the Cape Peninsula a short drive away from Cape Town. Facing east into the bay, its waters are much warmer that other beaches on the peninsula, with temperatures of 24°C not uncommon from December to March.

    During these months, visitors will find… read more »

  • 7. Glencairn Beach

    Glencairn Beach
    © Derek Keats / CC BY
    Great for:
    • Kitesurfing

    Glencairn Beach can be found on the western shores of False Bay, in the suburb of Glencairn, which is roughly four kilometres north of Simons Town on the Cape Peninsula.

    Easily reached thanks to a train station and plenty of parking, Glencairn Beach is largely used by locals as a place to exercise and let their dogs run around, however it also sees its fair share of water sports enthusiasts. Windsurfers… read more »

  • 8. Grotto Beach

    Grotto Beach
    © Olga Ernst / CC BY

    When you step onto Grotto Beach, you can't fail to be impressed by the vast expanse of sandy beach stretching out to the blue ocean. The beach seems to go on forever with the beach town of Hermanus to one end and a backdrop of mountains and wilderness the other. There is plenty of room on this beach to play games or throw down your towel but it you prefer… read more »

  • 9. Nature's Valley

    Nature's Valley
    © Paul Venter

    With a name like Nature's Valley, it's fitting that this beach lies on the stretch of South African coast known as the Garden Route. Reaching from sheer cliffs at one end to the mouth of the Groot River at the other, Nature's Valley Beach is approximately one kilometre in length.

    Its pristine sands are matched by the Indian Ocean and the national park which encloses it - Tsitsikamma, meaning "clear water"… read more »

  • 10. Langebaan - Paradise Beach

    Langebaan - Paradise Beach
    © Werner Bayer / CC BY
    Great for:
    • Kitesurfing

    This aptly named Paradise Beach is found on the eastern shore of the Saldanha Bay in not far north of Cape Town. A long sweeping crescent of white sands and the blue ocean, the immediate backdrop are steep dunes with stunning mountain views beyond. This is a busy resort beach and there are any number of activities available; you can go fishing, sailing, surfing, and more. In fact, you… read more »

  • 11. Wilderness Beach

    Wilderness Beach
    © ilf_

    Wide, wild, and unspoilt, Wilderness Beach has pet-friendly sands coloured a rich golden hue which continue on for more than a kilometre in length.

    Located along the Garden Route coast of South Africa's Western Cape province, the beach is backed onto by vegetation-clad dunes topped with homes looking out across the ocean blue.

    A short distance from the city of George, it is the Indian Ocean that laps the sands of Wilderness… read more »

  • 12. 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 definitely the place for you.

    read more »
  • 13. 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 by low dunes and heath… read more »

  • 14. 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 from kitesurfing and kite-yachting to… read more »

  • 15. Bloubergstrand

    © SkyPixels / CC BY
    Great for:
    • Surfing
    • Kitesurfing

    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 be seen across Table Bay.… read more »