Top 10 Swimming Spots in Cape Town

Luxurious Self Drive Garden Route Tour

Our Top 10 Best Places to Swim in Cape Town

Below are our little black book of hidden swimming gems in Cape Town. There are a few that did not make it onto the list for various reasons – one of those being Spitzwinkel Beach just after Cape Point which offers truly sublime swimming, but the 15-minute steep walk down to the beach and back up again puts a lot of people off, yet makes it a very private and rewarding beach experience for those seeking the exclusive and those who don’t mind lugging beach and picnic gear! Millers Point Tidal Pool is also popular but didn’t make it into the top 10 as we rated Dale Brook Tidal Pool higher, but is well worth a drive out on a sunny day and offers lots of sheltered spots for a picnic and glorious swim. Glencairn Beach is also popular with Capetonians living in the deep south and is less busy than Fish Hoek, and Bakoven Beach is also popular for the same reasons near Camps Bay.

Camps Bay Beach

Camps Bay Beach

Camps Bay is a wide stunning beach with white soft sand and palm trees. The ocean is usually a deep turquoise color and being the Atlantic it’s icy cold so in terms of swimming it great for a brave and quick dip to cool off the Cape Town summer sun.   Capetonians and visitors alike flock to enjoy the atmosphere as well as the staggeringly beautiful views as the beach is framed by the rugged mountain range known as the Twelve Apostles. This little ocean suburb is home to some of Cape Town’s swankiest residences and expensive real estate and penthouses that sprawl out on the mountainside. This stretch of the Atlantic seaboard is where some of Cape Town’s beautiful people flock for brunch and a walk on the beach and you will find glamorous groups of people fresh off the beach in sarongs and bikini’s enjoying sundowners at one of the many stylish cocktail bars and restaurants that line the road opposite the beach.  There are some great, all be it some of the city’s more pricy restaurant options at Camps Bay, and not surprisingly many of them feature delectable fresh from the ocean menu’s – think oysters, crayfish, line fish and of course sushi and tapas to savour with a glass of bubbles as the sun goes down.

Noordhoek beach

Noordhoek Beach

Chapmans Bay Drive is one of the most staggeringly beautiful mountains and ocean drives in the world. As you slowly drive your way through one hairpin bend after another, you will reach one of the last where you get the first view of gorgeous Noordhoek beach. This is a wide and 8 km long stretch of beach and the road above offers beautiful views of the rolling waves, white sands and miles of often empty pristine beach. Perfect for dog walking, horse-riding, kitesurfing and surfing this beach is also frequented by Noordhoek and south Peninsular families. The ocean here is often quite rough and cold so whilst it’s not considered one of the best swimming beaches in Cape Town it had to make it onto the list for the sheer beauty of the beach and wide-open space. Jump in quick to cool off and then go for a long walk in the direction of Kommetjie Lighthouse.

Clifton Beach

Clifton

It would be hard to describe more beautiful beaches than the four that make up the stunning Beaches of Clifton. Basically, four deep coves are divided by massive rocky boulders and named simply as 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. You reach them via steep steps down to the soft white sand and dazzling icy cold Atlantic ocean. This is the playground of the rich and ‘want to be seen’ crowd and some of Cape Town’s most expensive beach houses and bungalows.  Each beach attracts a slightly different atmosphere. 3rd and 4th are probably slightly more relaxed attracting families and people who love the sun, whilst 1st and 2nd are more fashionable and beautiful toned bodies are on display enjoying volleyball and the natural beauty. Hire an umbrella and sun lounger and join the beautiful crowd in what has to be one of Cape Town’s most stunning setting.  Swimming wise these beaches are usually more sheltered from Cape Town’s notorious summer south-easter winds, and at sunset time glamorous motor yachts and charter boats drop anchor here to enjoy the protection offered by the bays all adding to the overall stylish and chic ocean-atmosphere. Pack a picnic and enjoy.

Llandudno Beach, Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa

Llandudno

For those in the know, the beach at Llandudno is a real gem and one of the best beaches in Cape Town. As you wind your way along the first part of the Atlantic drive which flows into the famous Chapmans Peak Drive, after Camps Bay, but before Hout Bay, turn off the road and wind your way down through millionaire style holiday beach houses to the gorgeous and sheltered cove and boulders.

This is a popular surfers spot and is also a great option for sundowners. Again it is the icy Atlantic Ocean but is perfectly doable for a refreshing dip if your not wearing a wetsuit and riding the waves.

There are no shops or restaurants whatsoever, so come prepared and self-sufficient although you can rent umbrellas and cold drinks and snacks from beach vendors. You are spoilt for choice in Cape Town when it comes to west facing and scenic options for watching the sun go down and Llandudno is no exception. If you feel like going au natural you can also try Sandy Bay which is at the southern end of Llandudno and is one of Cape Town’s only nudist beaches. Clothing is not compulsory here, and Sandy bay stretches out with many discreet little coves hidden amongst the huge rocks and boulders giving those inclined to go naked ample space.

Muizenberg Beach

Muizenberg Beach

‘Muizies’ as it’s known to Capetonians is home to Cape Town’s surfing scene and is well photographed for its row of brightly painted beach huts. Set on the False Bay coast in the South Peninsular the beach offers safe and gentle waves and being the Indian Ocean allows for long, glorious warm swimming, bodyboarding and ocean fun. This is also the place to come if you want to learn to surf and there are plenty of surf schools where you can rent boards, wetsuits and book a couple of lessons from a full range of enthusiastic and friendly instructors. Muizenberg used to be the destination of choice for summer holidays in the sixties and seventies and as such has an almost retro holidaymaker atmosphere which is enhanced by a great range of beach restaurants, and little eateries offering ice creams and good coffee, juices, and snacks. The promenade has been renovated and attracts people and families from all walks of life all there for the same reason to enjoy the warm water, and relaxed sandy beach. On a good day, there can be literally hundreds of surfers and swimmers in the water watched over by competent coast guards.

 

Boulders and Windmill Beach

Boulders and Windmill Beach

There are not too many places in the world where you can swim with penguins.  Boulders is one such place. Large granite rocks give good protection to a colony of African Penguins – one of the largest protected colonies on the mainland. This stretch of beachline features a number of well-frequented and popular with those in the know small beaches and are popular with those who want to snorkel and enjoy warm water with the odd penguin swimming past!

Boulders itself is operated by the Table Mountain National Park which means there is an entrance fee and great photographic opportunities to learn all about these cute and almost comical creatures. There are also places to picnic and sunbathe and swim.

If you are not up for an organised fee-paying experience, you can also try your luck on the other side of the Boulders car park where you can walk on a little boardwalk that eventually leads to a rock pool and a small beach where it’s possible to swim and snorkel. Here there are ample viewing opportunities for the penguins and far fewer crowds.

Windmill Beach is one of the South Peninsula’s best swimming beaches in Cape Town.  Tucked away at the very end of a residential road that runs behind the coastline and hard to find parking on a good day, you will find the entrance to Windmill. Sheltered and featuring 2 little bays, this is the place where families with younger children frequent as there are rocks and pools and safe swimming in warm waters. It is the closest swimming and beach atmosphere to some of the beaches on the Algarve but without the crowds. Be totally self-sufficient as there are no beach vendors, umbrellas, or sun loungers and you must carry everything in and out with you. But it’s worth it – get there early to grab a space as this is a family beach experience much loved by Capetonians.

dalebrook tidal pool

Dalebrook Tidal Pool

Much loved by the locals of St James and the little coastal village of Kalk Bay, Dalebrook Tidal Pool is one of Cape Town’s best-hidden beaches and easily one of Cape Town’s best swimming tidal pools. This large tidal pool is washed clean every high tide replenishing the crisp water. The pool has boulders to perch on as well as a few benches to sit and enjoy the hot sun and stunning view of the ocean beyond the pool. A hugely popular place for all ages who come to enjoy a swim on a hot day and watch the waves crash against the sea wall. Kids enjoy snorkelling and the rock pools that surround the tidal pool are home to a good variety of sea creatures.  Just up the stairs and across the zebra crossing is Dale Brook café which is a deli where you can buy takeaway juices, coffee, and snacks to enjoy at the pool or stop for breakfast or lunch.

It is also possible to walk or run from Dalebrook (or if your looking for a longer exercise regime why not start at Clovelly beach).  You can run all the way alongside the ocean to Muizenberg and then back again for a glorious and well-earned swim in Dale Brook tidal pool. One of Cape Town’s best swimming spots!

Bloubergstrand

Bloubergstrand

Bloubergstrand offers the picture-perfect view of Table Mountain that features in so many of the famous photographs of the Mother City and Table Mountain overlooking glorious Table Bay. Because of this, it has made it onto our list! The beach is long and sandy and is a great place to walk or enjoy a sundowner and is also very popular with kite surfers and families who come to enjoy the ocean and beach. Blue Peter Restaurant and bar is popular at sundowner time and offers great views of the mountain and good food.

West Coast National Park Lagoon

West Coast National Park and Lagoon

Not quite Cape Town but an easy hours’ drive from Blouberg is the stunning lagoon and West Coast National Park. As you drive into the park you will see the lagoon sprawled out in front of you and you could easily think you are in Mozambique or the Maldives. Imagine a calm, flat, water, and idyllic shade of turquoise featuring white sandbanks and even the odd houseboat bobbing in the bay.

This is the place to come for SUPing, sea kayaking, and soaking up the sun as well as magnificent swimming in warm almost tropical waters. Enjoy the park where you can take a hike or picnic and view zebra, plains-game, ostrich, and a wide range of reptiles and birds. In the flower season, the entire region bursts into bloom making for a breath-taking riot of colorful flowers to photograph and enjoy and the Park becomes very busy with day visitors and those staying in the discreet cottages and beach houses to rent.  This is one of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets!

fish hoek beach

Fish Hoek

Last but not least in our opinion you could not feature a round-up of the best swimming spots in Cape Town and not include beautiful Fish Hoek beach. One of the most best-loved family beaches in South Africa Fish Hoek offers a lot. Firstly, it is the Indian Ocean so it’s warm and inviting. Here you will find a well kept and immaculate beach where litter is picked up each day and dog walkers and surfers use one end and swimmers and families enjoy the more wind-protected end that is flanked by Jaggers Walk which features little rock pools and glorious views on a clear day all the way out to Pringle Bay in False Bay.

Fish Hoek is family-friendly and is one of the few places in Cape Town where you can swim for hours in warm water and in a shark-protected netted zone. There are great lifesavers on duty as well as a beach restaurant that serves inexpensive food, ice creams, and cold drinks and ample safe parking.  For families and those looking for a no-frill, where anything goes, relaxed kind of beach experience you cannot beat Fish Hoek Beach!

If swimming is your thing you will be spoilt for choice in Cape Town. Get hold of us to plan your trip to Africa and for many more insider tips on our incredible continent.

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