Cape Town has, amongst its many attractions, some of the most magnificent beaches to be found anywhere on earth. From the brashness of Camps Bay and the beauty of Llandudno, to the nakedness of Sandy Bay and the penguins of Boulders Beach, there is a beach for everyone. However it is the beaches of Clifton which take the gold medal, but a little advance knowledge is vital to ensure that the beach bum gets the most out of his or her visit to these city gems. Located just 10 minutes from the Waterfront, the beaches at Clifton are separated by large boulders which lie majestically on the white sand and make sure that each of the four beaches has their own unique target market.
First up is Clifton 1st. Situated closest to the city it tends to have the wildest waves and hence always tends to attract local surfers. It can be reached by a series of steps down from the main road above, or by walking along the sands from the other 3 beaches. Next along is Clifton 2nd, arguably the most accessible of the Clifton beaches, but with calmer waters it is popular with those with a passion for water sports. Clifton 3rd is the quietest of the four, and reached by stairs from the main road or by walking round from neighbouring Clifton 4th. The smallest of the beaches, it attracts those wanting to escape the masses and enjoy a beach stay in a less frenetic environment. Always popular amongst the local gay population.
The last is by no means the least – Clifton 4th being as it is the most popular, and invariably being rammed full of Cape Town’s most beautiful specimens. This is where Capetonians come to see, and be seen. Reached by a series of steep stairs winding down from the road above, it provides a welcome shelter from when the south-east wind is blowing. In addition to the bronzed bodies, ice cream sellers, games of beach volleyball and barbecues which all seem to be ever-present, the waters are normally home to a parade of boats and yachts which have moored offshore and are home to the G&T set. 4th Has been awarded Blue Flag status and also benefits from being close to one of the city’s most fashionable outdoor bars.
In high season, the sands at all four beaches tend to start filling early, and those looking for a parking space and room to stretch their towel out are advised to arrive no later than 10h00. However as the afternoon progresses the foreign sunbathers tend to be replaced by locals, who visit after a hard days work and are loaded down with picnic baskets, rugs and lights, making camp for a few hours as the sun sets and enjoying a wonderful alfresco experience.
A final word of warning, no matter how hot the weather or how fashionable the crowd, be aware that very few actually venture into the sea without a wetsuit – the seas are notoriously chilly and only really suitable for a quick bracing dip!