Swimming in Cape Town: beaches and pools

Clifton Beach. Photo courtesy of Instagramer @mizu_takumi

South Africa’s Mother City offers an array of beautiful, white, sandy beaches and a refreshing, crystal-clear ocean set against an azure sky. The Cape Peninsula separates two of the great oceans of the world, the cold Atlantic Ocean and the slightly warmer Indian Ocean, which meet officially at Cape Aghulas.

The City of Cape Town has a Blue Flag Programme for the 2014/2015 season that is awarded to beaches and marine that meet a specific set of criteria, encompassing: 

  • Water quality
  • Safety and services
  • Environmental management
  • Environmental education and information   


And if the ocean’s too cold, there’s also a great choice of public swimming pools in Cape Town.

West might be best…

The western or Atlantic side extends from Melkbosstrand in the north, past the harbour-side shopping Mecca of the V&A Waterfront, all the way to the Good Hope section of the Table Mountain National Park at Cape Point.

The beaches on the western side are ideally suited to long, lazy afternoons and slow evenings coloured by magnificent sunsets. Beaches include Blaauwberg, Sunset Beach, Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandudno, Hout Bay, Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Scarborough and more.

The protected Clifton beaches offer the best option for sheltered sunbathing when Cape Town’s southwesterly wind is howling.

… but there’s a feast in the east

On the Indian Ocean side or eastern coast you’ll find flat, wide beaches that are ideal for family outings, swimming and surfing. Most beaches here are preferred by the locals and are manned by lifeguards, which makes them relatively safe. Eastern beaches include Kogelbaai, Gordon’s Bay, Strand, Muizenberg, St James tidal pool and beach, Fish Hoek, Simon’s Town’s Long Beach, Boulders Beach and Windmill Beach.

Within reach you’ll find a beach

Cape Town’s beaches are a premier attraction for visitors and locals alike. The more popular beaches are Clifton, Camps Bay, Sunset Beach, Three Anchor Bay, Fish Hoek, Long Beach and Hout Bay. Most of these beaches offer a range of activities, including swimming, snorkelling, boating, kite surfing, kayaking, scuba diving and surfing. A bonus for those without transport is that most of these beaches are on public transport routes.

There are eight beaches within the Cape metro that have been awarded full Blue Flag status for the 2014/2015 season (from 1 December 2014 to 31 March 2015): Camps Bay, Muizenberg, Clifton Beach, Bikini Beach (Gordon’s Bay), Mnandi Beach, Llandudno, Silwerstroomstrand and Strandfontein. A ninth pilot beach, currently undergoing assessment, is Melkbosstrand. Three marinas have been awarded full Blue Flag status for the 2014/2015 season: False Bay Yacht Club, Granger Bay Water Club and Harbour Island.

Naughty but nice

Naturists visiting Cape Town are welcome to call in at its famous nudist beach, Sandy Bay, by walking along a coastal path from the parking lot at Llandudno. Take refreshments with you, as there are no kiosk facilities provided. Note that there are no ablution facilities at Sandy Bay.

Swimming pools

If the salty bite of seawater and the feel of sand between your toes holds no appeal, there are many public, hotel, club and resort pools open to tourists, including:
• Bellville Swimming Pool (Bellville)
• Camps Bay Tidal Pool (Camps Bay)
Long Street Baths (Cape Town)
• Elsies River Swimming Pool (Elsies River)
• Hanover Park Swimming Pool (Hanover Park)
• Mnandi Resort Swimming Pool (Strandfontein)
• Sea Point Pavilion Swimming Pool (Sea Point)

Cape Town certainly has the most breathtaking public swimmimg pools in the world and the City of Cape Town has made them available to the public. For a complete list of pools made available by the City of Cape Town click here

What you need to know:

• Bring sunscreen (lots of it), sun hats and bottles of water
• For your own safety, listen to lifeguards
• Do not go swimming alone or at isolated beaches
• If conditions are rough, exercise caution
• Don’t leave valuables unattended on the beach
• At beaches such as Fish Hoek, where there are sharkspotters, observe the flags and do not go into the water when conditions are not safe
• Take your litter with you when you leave the beach – leave only footprints behind.

  • Phone: +27 (0)21 487 6800

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