False Bay Beaches, Western Cape
The False Bay coastline is generally more laid back and not as frenetic as the Atlantic coastline, although in peak season these family oriented beaches can still become pretty busy and the waters are often filled with surfers.
Beaches here are popular with locals as they are warmer than the Atlantic beaches (3-4 degrees) and are great swimming beaches. Most are manned by lifeguards and shallow waters extend quite far out so that swimming and paddling are relatively safe.
Muizenberg, very popular during its heyday in the '60s and '70s, is where every surfer learns to cut his teeth and one of the most racially integrated beaches in Cape Town. Synonymous with the colourful beach huts that make their way onto picture postcards of Cape Town, this very long beach can get pretty busy during peak season but the waves are not too powerful and there are other facilities here such as put-putt courses and water slides so that it never feels crowded.
St James Beach is not very wide or big and it can get rather crowded in summer, but it offers a delightful tidal pool which is great for children. During high tide big waves can break against the tidal pool wall. A similar tidal pool can be found in Kalk Bay (Dalebrook Pool), just a little further down the main road. Danger Bay Beach, nearby, is much quieter and tends to be used by local residents.
Fish Hoek beach is very popular with pensioners and families and its calm waters offer plenty of space for games, swimming, walking and exploring. The walkway that hugs the right hand side of the beach makes an enjoyable Sunday afternoon stroll and is a good place for spotting whales that come right into the bay during season. Clovelly Beach adjoins Fish Hoek beach on the far left hand corner of the beach and tends to be used by young surfers.
Glencairn beach is great for swimming and sunbathing or for spotting great whites, which shouldn’t deter you from the waters as there is more chance of being killed by a falling coconut in Thailand than by a shark in South Africa!
Just past Simons Town is Boulders beach, synonymous with the population of African Penguins who have decided that this beach is their home. This is a paying beach and one of the best swimming beaches in Cape Town. It lies in a small cove and is protected from the wind by giant granite boulders. A boardwalk past the main beach takes you to the penguin beach, although they do pop over to visit you around the boulders.
En route to Smitswinkelbaai (Smitswinkel Bay) one passes Windmill beach - just past Boulders and also fairly well sheltered from the wind with shallow waters that make it perfect for families - and Froggy Pond and Miller’s Point, a couple of little beaches. Smitswinkelbaai is practically inaccessible and right next to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Reached only by foot, it is worth the effort to get there. The bay here is popular for snorkelling, diving and fishing and the water is calm and great for swimming. Views are fantastic as the mountains are virtually to the back of the beach and one overlooks False Bay.
The beaches of the Cape Point Nature Reserve are well worth a visit. Not only do you have the beauty of the reserve itself but Diaz beach is secluded and peaceful and well away from the crowds with spectacular views. It takes some doing to get there as there’s a climb on the way back but it’s worth it. Buffelsbaai has a safe tidal pool whilst Platboom and Olifantsbos are the more popular beaches within the reserve. There are a number of other small beaches and the sand stretches for miles, beckoning one to walk.
With magnificent views of the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland mountain ranges, the northern shores of False Bay offer the beaches of Macassar, Monwabisi, Mnandi - a beach with blue flag status - and Strandfontein (not to be confused with the Strandfontein of the Cape West Coast). These beaches are close to the suburbs of Kayelitsha, Macassar, Philippi, Tafelsig, Langa, Gugulethu and Nyanga. They tend to be frequented mainly by residents from these suburbs and white people are seldom seen here. These beaches are rather wild looking and a favourite haunt of fishermen. They are exposed to the elements and if the wind blows in Cape Town, it really blows here. Running the length of the R310 Baden Powell Drive from Muizenberg, a slower but definitely more scenic alternative when travelling north from Cape Town, these beaches blend into each other with no defined boundaries and are part of the Wolfgat Nature Reserve, which protects the rapidly declining strandveld and dwarf coastal fynbos.
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destinations / attractions in the western cape