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November 23, 2012

Beach culture in Cape Town

Beaches in Cape Town are famous for their versatility: from surfing to suntanning, you can do and see it all in the Mother City.

There is no end to Cape Town’s white, sandy, sun-kissed beaches as they stretch along the Peninsula.

For a cosmopolitan city boasting a world-famous flat-topped mountain and stunning coastline, it’s no wonder Cape Town has been awarded titles such as Best Beach Destination in Africa at the World Travel Awards 2012.

But it didn’t start out that way! Back in the days of the Portuguese explorers, Cape Town became known as the “Cape of Storms”, claiming many vessels on its rough seas. Today, some of Cape Town’s beaches host shipwrecks and shipwreck tours, the most popular of which are along the sea side of the Cape Point Nature Reserve and the Atlantic coast.

Cape Point's pristine shores are home to many an old shipwreck.

A few hundred years on, and in 2012, eight of Cape Town’s beaches (and two marinas) have been awarded the voluntary eco-label Blue Flag Status, making it the city with the highest number of Blue Flag beaches in South Africa. They are: Bikini Beach, Mnandi Beach, Strandfontein, Muizenberg, Llandudno, Camps Bay, Clifton 4th Beach and Silwerstroomstrand.

Of Cape Town’s plentiful beach options, we love:

  • Clifton and Llandudno – two of Cape Town’s most beautiful beaches, great for lying under the umbrella and perfect for watching sunsets
  • Camps Bay – Cape Town’s trendiest beach with upmarket restaurants and shops to be found along the palm-lined boulevard
  • Sandy Bay – Cape Town’s unofficial nudist beach, but prepare for a walk to get there
  • Noordhoek and Scarborough – pristine stretches of beach for leisurely walks and horse riding, as well as flying kites on windy days
  • Fish Hoek, Muizenberg and St James – family-friendly beaches with colourful and fun facilities, including catwalks
  • Muizenberg and Kommetjie – popular for surfing.
  • Dolphin Beach and Blouberg – popular beaches for kite surfing.

Safety first: Keep an eye out for the shark spotters' flags along Cape Town's coast.

If you’ve never visited our fair coast before, please be aware that the sun and some tricky currents do mean you have to be careful.

  • Do not swim directly after a meal, or when under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Never swim alone and always limit the distance you swim out, knowing that you have to swim back – waist-height is suggested
  • Wear bright coloured swimming gear so that you are easy to spot
  • Take precautions for the heat and sun – drink lots of water, always use a sunscreen of at least factor 15 or more, and limit your exposure to direct sunlight between 10h00 and 16h00, as this is when the sun is at its hottest and the risk of skin cancer is greatest

Remember to take note of the shark spotters' warnings. Shark spotters are deployed at several of Cape Town’s beaches along the False Bay coast. Shark spotters use a flag and alarm system to warn beach users of a shark’s whereabouts:

  • A green flag means visibility for the spotters is good and no sharks have been seen
  • A black flag means visibility for the spotters is poor but no sharks have been seen
  • A red flag means a shark has been seen recently but is no longer visible to the spotters, stay alert
  • A white flag with a black shark, along with a loud siren, means a shark has been sighted and bathers should leave the water immediately

Eager to explore more of the fantastic beach culture in Cape Town? Then visit her thirst-quenching cocktail bars, feast on her gourmet delights at her restaurants with a view, or dance the night away at her top nightlife venues.

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