Soak up the sunshine on one of the beaches around Cape Town. If you are out exploring, take a hat and bikini or swimming shorts in case you find yourself by the sea. There are two schools of thought when it comes to going to the beach in Cape Town: the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean philosophy.
The beaches on the Atlantic, including Camps Bay and Clifton, are exclusive and pristine. Exclusive in that they have the most expensive villas in the city, and pristine in that the beaches are perfectly maintained, with soft sand and clear, turquoise water.
Those who follow the Atlantic Ocean philosophy only venture into the water under perfect conditions. People visit these beaches to see and be seen, wearing designer swimsuits and sunglasses. They’ll spend several hours chilling under a large brimmed hat with a book, or go for a walk with a loved one at sunset, but they wont actually get in the water. These beaches are great for the picture perfect ‘living my best life’ effect. Enjoy the saltiness in the air, massaging your feet in beach sand, and the amazing sunsets.
Although the Atlantic Ocean is cold, there are other ways to enjoy the view. You can ride horses at Noordhoek, how’s that for your bucket list.
Beaches on the Indian Ocean are warmer, and more suitable for swimming and water sports. There are many beaches along the False Bay coastline towards Cape Point. This is a spectacular drive, and there are charming places to have fish and chips or ice-cream along the way.
The Indian Ocean philosophy is about getting into the water, no matter what. Muizenberg Beach is famous for surfing. It is a long stretch of sand, with magical colours in the sea and sky. The novelist Agatha Christie famously learnt to surf here in the 1920’s. Under level 4 lockdown, beaches were closed and exercise was only permitted between 6 and 9am. Surfers protested their right to get #BackIntoThe Water as their form of exercise, and police had to actively enforce the rule. Bear in mind that this was May/June and winter (with temperatures between 12 and 22 degrees) but surfers are accustomed to getting in the water throughout the year.
If you are an adventurous type, there are surf shops where you can hire a surfboard and book an instructor to teach you the basics. Check out Xpression, Garysurf, Surfshack, Softsurfschool, or Lifestyle Surf Shop. Be inspired by the talented youth who make surfing seem effortless. Body boarding on a boogie board is a much easier way to ride the waves, and its also lots of fun.
Muizenberg is great for swimming, building sand castles and chilling on the beach. There are lifeguards and many experienced swimmers in the water. Another option is going to a tidal pool, such as St. James or Dalebrook. These fill with seawater at high tide, and it is best to go in the morning. Swim in a pool surrounded by mountain and sea views. While you are in the area, check out Kalk Bay Harbour, the cafes and restaurants, and the fresh fish market. Boulder’s Beach is close to Simonstown, and if you remember your swimsuit, you can swim with the penguins!
Visiting the aquarium
If you visit the Waterfront, one of my highlights is the Two Oceans Aquarium. It is full of wonders such as tropical painted fish, seahorses, and giant red lobsters. There is also an exhibition of jellyfish that glow in the dark. The aquarium promotes conservation and shows the diversity of marine life from frogs to yellow-fin fish and sting rays. There are magnificent sharks too. It is possible to dive with a guide in the shark tank, or to view them from a safe distance behind the glass.
Cape Town has both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean and many wonderful beaches. Whatever you do, wear sunscreen. Whether you are interested in driving along the coast, walking on the beach, chilling, surfing or swimming, discover the healing power of the sea.
By Judi K. Stewart