Cape Town’s natural beaches are usually wild and wonderful, turning them into a magical wonderland for little explorers. Here, we round up our favourite sandy (and safe) destinations, all of which have something to offer for both young and old(er).
Camps Bay Beach
Often called the Cape Riviera, Camps Bay Beach is a stunner – a half-moon shaped stretch of golden sand, framed by palm trees and the mighty Twelve Apostles Mountain range. Watch families build sand castles, play frisbee, and splash in the water – with little ones seemingly oblivious to the freezing water temperatures. Depending on the weather, the currents here can be strong and should not be underestimated – for a proper swim in calmer waters, head to the adjacent tidal pool. For a calmer alternative, walk the other way and climb over boulders to reach the quieter Glen Beach. Fancy an ice cream? Simply listen out for roaming ice cream vendors shouting ‘a lolly to make you jolly!’
Smaller than Camps Bay but equally beautiful, Clifton’s famous four beaches, simply called Clifton 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st, are worth the effort (it’s a good 100 steps down to reach them). Almost entirely wind-free, these are the beaches to head to on days when the infamous South Easter howls practically everywhere else in Cape Town. For families, Clifton 3rd and 4th should be your port of call, with the latter being the largest and most family-oriented. Umbrellas and loungers can be rented, and ice cream and cool drink vendors patrol the beach, but bring snacks and entertainment – and remember, you’ll have to hike up those steps again at the end of the day.
Ever wanted to swim with penguins? Now’s your chance – a small entry fee will grant you access to the famous Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, where flippered locals, completely unfazed by the human visitors, happily waddle into the sea amongst ancient granite boulders. The small beach gets extremely crowded in season, so rock up early, then climb under and over rocks at the far end to get to more remote alcoves – young visitors will love the sense of adventure. Once it gets too busy (and the distinctive penguin smell starts hitting your nose), leave the hordes behind and follow the signs to Windmill Beach with its shallow, sheltered waters – ideal for little ones to swim safely, and a great spot to launch a kayak.
Driving through the West Coast National Park to Kraalbaai Beach you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve accidentally landed in the Maldives – the pristine turquoise waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, powdery white sand and idyllic jetty make for a tropical first impression. The warm, shallow waters are ideal for swimming, especially for younger beach-goers, while a wide range of water sport activities, including kayaking, kite surfing and wakeboarding, will appeal to both teenagers and parents. One of the best times to come is during flower season, when the park’s colourful flora is in full bloom – make sure to bring a picnic, as well as an umbrella for shade.