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Sunset Beach, Cape Town
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The 19 best beaches in Cape Town

Treat yourself with a trip to the top Cape Town beaches where you'll find pristine waters, surf spots and even penguins

Written by
Katherine Alex Beaven
Alicia Erickson
Matthew Sterne

Of all the things to see and do in Cape Town, submitting to beach life has to be one of the city’s most essential experiences. Despite water temperatures often ranging from chilly to frigid, you’ll see plenty of surfers riding waves, divers exploring underwater wonders and curious snorkellers. And then there’s all the sand-based stuff, too.

From beaches within easy distance of restaurants, hotels and markets to those that are a bit more isolated and better-preserved, Cape Town has a stretch of sea and sand for every kind of beachgoer. No matter where you throw down your towel, prepare to be dazzled with spectacular mountain views, picture-worthy turquoise waters and dramatic beachfronts boasting tide pools, marble boulders, insane sunsets and much, much more. 


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😋 The best restaurants in Cape Town
🛏 The best Airbnbs in Cape Town

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The greatest Cape Town beaches

Muizenberg Beach
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1. Muizenberg Beach

This busy Blue Flag beach also functions as the heart of Cape Town’s surfing community. Muizenberg became a surfing hotspot thanks to its warmer waters and big waves, though it has also gained popularity as one of the city’s main beaches thanks to its family-friendly vibe, soft sands, and laid-back atmosphere. Heard it’s also popular with sharks? Never fear, shark spotters have their eyes peeled for any unwanted guests in the water.

Camps Bay Beach
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2. Camps Bay Beach

Cape Town’s most reliable beach, Camps Bay looks good, feels good and is well set up for a full day at the beach. Boasting Blue Flag status, this lively, family-friendly spot is a no-brainer when it comes to Cape Town beaches. In fact, Camps Bay is usually the go-to recommendation thanks to its cleanliness, sheer beauty, and easy access to bars and restaurants (perfect for end-of-day sundowners).

Bakoven Beach
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3. Bakoven Beach

A collection of small, picturesque beach coves that make for a chill beach day and gorgeous photos on the ‘gram, Beta Beach is regarded by some locals as a hidden gem. But secrets this beautiful are hard to keep. Large looming boulders and stunning views of Lion’s Head mountain are perfect backdrops for photo shoots, while the wave-less water and fiery sunsets draw families, friends, and couples looking to soak it all in from the sands.

Home to Cape Town’s most famous beach bums, a protected colony of South African penguins, Boulders Beach is one the city’s most famous coastal spots. A 45-minute drive doesn’t stop folks from flocking here for the chance to watch­ – and even swim with – this adorable penguin colony. Pay the park entrance fee, then picnic in the sand, kayak the waters, or jump off tall granite rocks surrounded by your new water bird friends. However, these are wild animals, so no feeding or touching, please.

Buffels Bay
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5. Buffels Bay

Like many of Cape Town’s most spectacular beaches, you’ll find Buffels Bay down in the Cape Point Nature Reserve. What makes Buffels Bay so special is its seclusion, white sands and colossal rocks – all of which combine to make it rather picturesque. After a trek through the reserve, stop by Buffels for a refreshing dip in the Atlantic and to explore the tidal pools brimming with sea critters – then set up a picnic on one of the sprawling grassy lawns that precede the beach.

Diaz Beach
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6. Diaz Beach

Diaz is a heavenly and pristine beach down in Cape Point that feels pretty private thanks to its fairly secluded location. Gorgeous things come to those who make the 20-minute trek to Diaz Beach from the Cape Point parking lot. We’re talking soft sand, turquoise water, and rocky cliffsides – without the crowds. The water may be too cold for comfort, but people don’t come here to swim so much as to gawk at the beauty of nature and to work on their tan.

Noordhoek Beach
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7. Noordhoek Beach

Compared to most Cape Town beaches, Noordhoek’s vast shores are isolated and empty... and that’s exactly their charm. If you’re not a fan of sharing a beach with the crowds, head to this immense swathe of sand, which stretches along the Atlantic Coast below Chapman’s Peak – about 35 kilometres south of Cape Town. Pop by after a drive down the coastal road or come simply to amble in relative solitude along the empty shores of Noordhoek while watching the waves roll in.

Glencairn Beach
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8. Glencairn Beach

If you’re heading south down the peninsula from Cape Town, be sure to stop by Glencairn Beach, which is just north of Simon’s Town. A little less popular with tourists than other beaches in the area, Glencairn has winding stretches of sand, towering boulders and ideal conditions for watersports. The bonus? Glencairn is also easily reached by train. Hop off at Glencairn station, head to the beach and kayak, windsurf, surf or simply stretch out on the sun-soaked sand. 

Sunset Beach
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9. Sunset Beach

The expansive, white sands of Sunset Beach lie just north of Cape Town proper in Blouberg. A favourite among kite surfers, windsurfers and surfers alike, the waves at Sunset are a sight to behold – and a fun feat to conquer for experienced wave-riders. Not an avid surfer? Fear not. Sunset Beach offers magnificent views of both Table Mountain and Robben Island – as well as, as its name suggests, prime position for some mind-melting sunsets.

Big Bay Beach
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10. Big Bay Beach

With its lengthy stretch of pristine white sand and views over Robben Island and cloud-encircled Table Mountain, Big Bay Beach is as picture-postcard as Cape Town beaches get. North of the city and on the southern edge of Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, Big Bay is also primed for adventure-hungry beachgoers. Once you’ve had your fill of ocean and mountain views, venture beyond the beachfront to dunes where you can sink your feet into the soft, powdery sand, or head in the other direction and discover rock pools full of fish and other sea critters.

Queen’s Beach
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11. Queen’s Beach

The Sea Point Promenade, a 5-km-long oceanside boardwalk, is a popular spot for a morning run or evening stroll. But it’s also dotted with the odd tidal pool, with locals loving a dip in the trendy Saunder’s Pool. If you’re after a bit of time in the sand, the best beach on the strip is Queen’s Beach, which has plenty of space to kick back and soak up the reliably spectacular pastel hues at sunset and has its own small slipway for a quick swim. 

Olifantsbos Beach
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12. Olifantsbos Beach

Welcome to surfer’s paradise. This small but absolutely beautiful beach at Cape Point sees winds that create perfect conditions for wave-riding. And its charms don’t stop there: beyond tackling waves, beachside hiking trails from Olifantsbos serve up immaculately blissful, picturesque views. Our tip? Head down for a hike (or, if it’s more your pace, a stroll), then, once done with your adventure, open up a blanket and enjoy a picnic whilst soaking up the views.

Scarborough Beach
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13. Scarborough Beach

About an hour’s drive south of Cape Town on the edge of Cape Point Nature Reserve, Scarborough Beach makes for a perfect day trip. After you’ve wound your way down the scenic Cape peninsula, claim a spot on this quiet beach and unwind for the afternoon. Scarborough is also popular with surfers – making it perfect for catching some waves of your own or for just watching the pros work their magic.

St. James Beach
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14. St. James Beach

Small but busy St James Beach is good for families with young kids and within walking distance to Kalk Bay. The shallow rock pools are just perfect for the kiddos to splash around in. Bold, multi-colored wooden huts line the beach and are a favorite with kids and camera lenses alike. Plus, the shops and restaurants of Kalk Bay are just a 15-minute walk away.

Clifton Beaches 1-4
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15. Clifton Beaches 1-4

A string of four beautiful white-sand beaches, at Clifton there’s a little something for everyone. If you can’t decide which beach to hit, heading to any one of the Clifton Beaches is usually a safe bet. Clifton 1st Beach has a more upscale vibe, Clifton 2nd is popular with the LGBTQ crowd, Clifton 3rd has younger party vibe, and Clifton 4th, a designated Blue Flag beach, is where you’ll find the most families.

Oudekraal Beach
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16. Oudekraal Beach

A hidden beach cove in Table Mountain National Park, Oudekraal is complete with braai facilities and underwater adventures. Its calm but cold waters offer a worthy snorkel around colorful kelp, crustaceans, and a few different fish, plus advanced divers are privy to a cool boulder cave site. However, most folks come to this beach to fire up the braai. Come hungry with cash for the park entrance fee, a heap of firewood, and meats ready to sizzle by the shore.

Long Beach
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17. Long Beach

This surfer’s haven in Kommetjie is perfect for letting your hair and dog run wild in the wind. Cape Town’s longest beach clocks in at nearly five miles long and is one of the only beaches where dogs can run free off their leashes. The stretch of soft white sand beckons beach walkers, and the ice cold waves are usually dotted with brave surfers and boogie boarders. Wind can get hectic here, making it more of a beach for active folks.

Bikini Beach
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18. Bikini Beach

Named after the number of bikini-clad students who frequent its shore, this is a tiny Blue Flag beach off Gordon’s Bay. Compact and beautiful, it gets high marks from university students for its warmer waters, partial seclusion, and Blue Flag-level facilities. The Hottentots Holland Mountain range offers up wind protection and the beach is perfectly positioned for killer views across False Bay.

Llandudno Beach
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19. Llandudno Beach

Llandudno is a firm local favourite. Without a car or road in sight and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of colossal mountains and ancient boulders, there’s a sense of isolation to Llandudno that is a major part of its charm. Combine that with barreling waves, a tonne of space and a headland that’s worth exploring, and you’ve got an alluring beach indeed. Llandudno is slightly out of the way (it’s out near Hout Bay), so it’s worth packing a picnic and making a day of it.

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