Surrounded by ocean, Cape Town has an array of beautiful golden beaches, including eight top standard Blue Flag beaches (beaches that conform to a range of strict social, educational and environmental standards). Five of these — Bikini Beach, Clifton 4th, Llandudno, Camps Bay and Silwerstroomstrand — are on the western, Atlantic seaboard. The remaining three — Mnandi, Muizenberg and Strandfontein — are on the eastern, False Bay coastline.
But which is the best beach in Cape Town? Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but my favourite beach in Cape Town is Clifton, which has Table Mountain and Lion’s Head as a spectacular backdrop . Flanked by dramatic granite boulders and with good protection from the summer wind, Clfiton is one of the world’s finest beaches. It attract crowds of scantily-clad locals and tourists onto its white sands and (less frequently) into its freezing waters every year.
Though occupying one bay on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard, Clifton is, in fact, divided into four distinct beaches separated by rocky outcrops and called Clifton 1st, 2cnd, 3rd and 4th.
In typical Cape Town style, each of Clifton’s beaches has its own distinct personality: Clifton 4th, the most southerly of the lot, is the popular strip. The largest and most accessible of the four beaches, it has Blue Flag status and attracts the biggest crowds; on sizzling summer days there’s barely room to move as bodies, towels and umbrellas cover the sand.
Clifton 3rd is where the beautiful people hang out, while Clifton 1st, which is secluded and well-protected from the wind but the least accessible of the four, is generally frequented only by Cape Town residents and those in the know. Clifton 2nd is the greatest beach of them all: small enough for atmosphere and large enough to handle a few bodies, it is perfectly sized for frisbee throwing and other beach games. It is also perfectly positioned, enjoying the best wind protection when the southeaster (the dominant wind in the Cape Town summer) really pumps.