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Saunders’ Rock Tidal Pool
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 11 best tidal pools in Cape Town

Whether you want to hang with the locals or take an ocean dip without the waves, Cape Town's shimmering tidal pools offer a delightful day out.

Richard Holmes
Written by
Richard Holmes

​​With the ocean on three sides, the sea makes its presence felt just about everywhere in Cape Town, whether you’re relishing the rush of icy Atlantic waters over sun-burnt feet on Clifton 3rd, or wallowing in the warm(ish) waters of False Bay.

It’s a wild coastline this, and the pounding swell that makes it a haven for surfers also keeps many on terra firma. Ah, but there’s a Goldilocks option too, that combines the safety of the hotel pool with the bracing tang of salty sea.

Say hello to the tidal pools of the Mother City: from the Atlantic Seaboard to the deep south, there are 19 tidal pools to discover and dip into across the city. Here’s the definitive Time Out pick of the 11 best tidal pools in Cape Town.

📍 The best things to do in Cape Town
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🏖 The best beaches in Cape Town
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Born and raised in the city, Richard Holmes is a travel writer based in Cape Town. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Take a dip in Cape Town's Best Tidal Pools

1. Dalebrook Tidal Pool

The secret, unfortunately, is out, and what was once a haven for in-the-know locals has become one of the most popular spots for a dip on the False Bay coastline. Set in the seaside suburb of Kalk Bay, Dalebrook is a pool for all types, from kids who splash in the shallows or leap off the central rocks, to local grannies who come for the chat as much as the swim. It’s a sizeable pool though, so there’s always space to join the few who come to pace out a few laps. It’s a perfect stop on a Cape Point road trip, but equally worthy as a destination on its own. Warm up afterwards with coffee and breakfast from the delightful Dalebrook Café.

2. Camps Bay Tidal Pool

Another local favourite, particularly post-Covid, the Camps Bay tidal pool draws locals and tourists as much for the glorious views of the 12 Apostles (the mountain range behind) as the sunset views. But don’t come expecting a balmy dip: the water here is, um, let’s call it ‘bracing’. There’s a lively local crowd here, so bring a towel to suntan on the beach and catch up on local goss’, before you head for brunch or cocktails at the busy restaurants of Camps Bay.


3. St. James Tidal Pool

Want to make a day of it, and hang with the locals? Head for St. James. The colourful beach huts here are one of the most iconic sights on the False Bay coastline, but it’s the large tidal pool and sandy beach that make it a gem, especially for families. The colourful beach huts offer space for changing, while the rumble of passing trains on the scenic coastal line is the soundtrack to a fine day out at the beach.

4. Maiden’s Cove Tidal Pool

Want to make a day of it? Just the other side of Camps Bay proper – drive Victoria Road past the chi-chi bars and chic restaurants – you’ll come to Maiden’s Cove. This municipal picnic ground offers grassy lawns and built-in braai spots, with sea swimming spots (for the brave) and two wonderful tidal pools set between towering granite boulders. With views to Camps Bay and the peaks of the Table Mountain National Park, it’s easily one of Cape Town’s most beautiful tidal pools. It gets very busy on summer weekends though, so aim for mid-week if you can.


5. Saunders’ Rock Tidal Pool

At the western end of the Sea Point Promenade, almost hidden amid the granite boulders, is this slip of a pool that is perfect for a quick dip after a day’s adventuring in the city. it’s a hexagonal gem that’s not easy to find, but well worth seeking out, as much for the glorious sea views as the eclectic collection of local swimmers that claim this as their own. But, all are welcome, and it’s an especially wonderful find mid-week when you might just have it all to yourself.

6. Miller’s Point Tidal Pool

This one takes a little effort, but it’s oh-so-worth-it. Take the coastal road out of Simon’s Town, and follow the signs to Miller’s Point. There, between the two boat launching sites, you’ll find a vast pool that features a shallow section for kids, a fun slide (for kids young and old) and a wide-open pool for doing a few lazy laps. There are grassy picnic and braai sites nearby, but do watch out for the resident baboons who will think nothing of stealing your sarmies.


7. Glencairn Tidal Pool

No time to drive all the way to Miller’s Point? No problem. Follow the beautiful coastal road from Kalk Bay to Fish Hoek and on to Glencairn where, just below the train station, you’ll find this gem of a pool. While the beach may often be wild, this surprisingly large pool is magical just about any day of the year. And, as a bonus, there’s a sizeable beach within the tidal pool, so you’ll enjoy the best of both worlds. When you’re done swimming, head back through the subway walkway for a bite at the delightful Deep South Eatery and the best sushi with a view in the Deep South.

8. Brass Bell Tidal Pool

If a decent meal is as important as a dip, then be sure to stop in at the Brass Bell Tidal Pool. Set slap-bang in the heart of Kalk Bay (a boho-chic suburb packed with charming eateries and boutiques worth a browse) the Brass Bell Restaurant is an institution in these parts, with a choice of bars and causal eateries spread across different levels. And, out front, the wide tidal pools tempt diners to have a splash while they wait for their starters. Inside intel? The pools are open to the public, even if you’re not a restaurant patron, so don’t feel shy about stopping in for a swim.


9. Soetwater Tidal Pool

This thoroughly local pool doesn’t attract many visitors, but that’s part of the charm. It’s set along the wild Atlantic coastline just down the road from the Slangkop lighthouse (worth a visit if it’s open) and an easy diversion from a return visit to Cape Point. It’s likely to be quiet on weekdays, while weekends draw a crowd of local families who come as much for the pool as the public picnic and braai areas on offer.  

10. Wooley’s Tidal Pool

This is a little gem that takes a bit of effort to find. Leaving Kalk Bay on the Main Road, pull off into the designated street parking areas about 500 metres past the harbour entrance. Look for the stairs down from the roadway and you’ll find this lovely little pool that has all the charm of Dalebrook, with none of the crowds. There’s a separate shallow section for kids, and a deeper area for adults to have a proper dip. The views out over False Bay are superb, and in season (July-November) you might spot Southern Right whales.


11. Buffels Bay Tidal Pool

If you’re making the journey south to discover Cape Point Nature Reserve, set aside an hour for a dip at Buffels Bay, on the western side of the reserve. It’s a quiet corner of Cape Point, rarely visited by the tourist hordes heading only for the lighthouse and gift shop, which means you’ll enjoy a wild swimming experience at the wide tidal pool set alongside the lawns and picnic sites. If you’re feeling adventurous, the rocky shoreline features plenty of natural pools too, that are worth exploring if you have time to spare. As with Miller’s Point, be aware of mischievous baboons and don’t leave food unattended.

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