Cape Town Beaches, Ranked

I spent seven full days in Cape Town and went to seven beaches. Sometimes I did more than one beach in a day, sometimes I did the same beach on more than one day, and some days I (gasp!) didn’t go to the beach at all. Still, this is my seven beaches in seven days. And for thrills, I’ve tried to rank them (it was very difficult).

7) Broken Bath Beach, Seapoint

I came here on my lunch break as I hadn’t started the “holiday part” of my trip to Cape Town yet, but I was still really excited to be so close to the sea, and really was feeling the need to get myself on to some sort of beach. And this was the closest beach to the Mojo Hotel in Seapoint where I was staying.

Apart from it’s fabulous name, its location in relation to the city and its views of Lion’s Head are definitely its main selling points. There’s a lot of seaweed on the shoreline and in the water, and it’s a mostly a rocky entrance if you’re planning on going for a swim. But the sands are white and clean, all the debris on the beach is at least natural, and I think its rugged, unmanicured fringes give it a certain pleasing wildness despite its proximity to the city. There’s also some food and drinks shacks on the promenade right by it. And an outdoor public pool.

6) Saunders Rocks Beach, Bantry Bay

Again, I came here on my first day because it was close to where I was holed up. As its name would suggest, it’s a rocky beach. And what do you get with rocky beaches? Rockpools! I was astounded by the amount of life in the rockpools on what is very much an urban beach. All sorts of seaweed, anemone, limpets, and mussels galore.

It’s also a damn fine spot to take a seat, put your feet up, and watch one of those stunning Cape sunsets at the end of a long day’s labour… without getting sandy.

5) Hout Bay Beach, Hout Bay

When I first rocked up to Hout Bay, which is about 20 minutes drive south of Cape Town, it was blowing an absolute gale and most of the beach was flying through the air, bouncing off my retinas as it went. I did venture on to the beach that evening, but could barely walk in a straight line, and there was also a bunch of dead baby seals washed up on the sand, presumably because of the insanely rough seas. There was something quite thrilling about the wildness of the beach that day, though, and the sun going down over the mountains was nice, so all was not lost.

I went back two days later when the wind had died down (a bit), and it was like a whole different beach. The sea was turquoise instead of grey, you could go for a swim or chill out on the sand without being blinded, and you could have a beverage outside at Dunes the beach bar and have it be an actually pleasant experience. Plus there were no dead seals. Hout Bay was redeemed.

Also fun is to scramble up and along the boulders on the left side (if you are on the beach facing the sea) until you reach a randomly-placed statue of a leopard, which was put up there in the 60s as a reminder of the wildlife that used to roam around the area. Only adventurers get pictures of the leopard.

4) Milnerton Beach, Woodbridge Island

I got the bus to Lagoon Beach from Seapoint (changing at the Civic Centre bus station), and walked along it for about 20 minutes to get to the far-nicer and less trash-strewn Milnerton Beach. Here, the beach itself is fine, the sand is nice and the waves are decent for surfing. But what you really come to Milnerton Beach for (if you are a tourist) is the view of Table Mountain.

Especially at sunset.

3) Camps Bay Beach, Camps Bay

Again a (short and direct this time) bus ride from Seapoint, Camps Bay Beach is buzzing with families, couples, groups of friends and lone, aimless tourists like me having a good time. Backed by the stunning Twelve Apostles, and sheltered by large outcrops of boulders at either end, this beach is a good one, aesthetically. And you can see the sunset slam straight down, unobstructed, into the Atlantic which is why you came really.

2) Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town

I’ll get straight to the point, the reason this beach scores so highly on this list is because there’s penguins on it.

It’s near Simon’s Town which is a wee bit down the Cape but it’s absolutely manageable as a day trip. I got a city bus to Hout Bay then got a R160 Uber to Simon’s Town and walked the rest of the way. You could probably Uber all the way from downtown Cape Town and it would still be affordable. The drive there is also super scenic (I’ve written a full post on all this here).

Again, penguins. On the Beach. Go see them.

1) Windmill Beach, Simon’s Town

This beach is perfect.

It’s just up the coast from Boulders Beach where the penguins are, and when I got there (not even early in the day) there was nobody else there and it was just me on this pristine, soft sanded, turquoise watered beauty.

It’s small but perfectly formed. There’s two white sandy coves separated by a rocky outcrop, creating sheltered shallows you can swim in where the water’s (slightly) warmer than that at the rest of the beaches I went to and probably contains less sharks (although don’t take my word for that).

You could probably spend a month in and around Cape Town visiting new beaches daily and still not see them all. There is a beach for every taste and every purpose and I am very aware that I have barely scratched the surface. But those are the seven beaches I went to, and I was pretty happy with my choices.

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