The Top 10 Best Beaches in Cape Town for Surfing, Scuba Diving, and Penguin Spotting


Cape Town is known for its incredible beaches, stunning scenery, and plentiful activities. With over 43 miles (70 kilometers) of coastline, there are many beautiful beaches to explore. But with so many options, it can be hard to decide which Cape Town beaches are the best.

This article will highlight the top 10 beaches in Cape Town and what makes each one special. Whether you’re looking for great surfing, scuba diving, seeing penguins, or just relaxing on soft white sands, these beaches have it all! Read on to find your perfect beach destination in Cape Town.

Why Visit the Beaches in Cape Town?

Cape Town’s beaches offer something for everyone. Families enjoy the calm, child-friendly waters. Surfers flock here for the excellent waves. Nature lovers explore the tide pools and get close to penguins. And beachgoers love the white sand, dramatic boulders, and spectacular views.

The cool Atlantic Ocean keeps you comfortable even on hot summer days. The beaches are conveniently located minutes from the city center. And the laidback vibes encourage you to slow down and enjoy beach life. With so much to see and do, Cape Town’s beaches are a must on any visit.

Top 10 Cape Town Beaches


1. Clifton Beach

Clifton is Cape Town’s most iconic beach, with sparkling turquoise waters, soft white sand, and dramatic granite boulders. Divided into four small coves separated by rocks, it offers sheltered spots for sunbathing. Watch the sunset from here before heading to trendy beach bars.

2. Camps Bay Beach

One of the most popular beaches, Camps Bay features stunning ocean views with the Twelve Apostles mountain range as a backdrop. It’s great for people-watching at trendy cafes. Stop for sundowners after enjoying a swim or stroll along the bustling promenade.

3. Muizenberg Beach

Popular with families, Muizenberg’s calm waters are warmed by False Bay. Hire a colorful beach hut, try standup paddleboarding, or spot whales along the coastline. The beach is renowned for its Victorian bathing boxes lining the pavilion.

4. Llandudno Beach

Nestled at the bottom of the Twelve Apostles, this small secluded beach has bright blue waters, sand dunes, and giant boulders. Reach it via a short hike, then relax in the peaceful surroundings. It’s perfect for a romantic escape or sunset picnic.

5. Noordhoek Beach

This stunning 5-mile (8-kilometer) beach boasts panoramic views across Noordhoek Valley to Cape Point. Take a horseback ride along the sand at Noordhoek Beach Riding School. Stay at the charming Foodbarn restaurant and deli nearby.

6. Bloubergstrand Beach

Across Table Bay lies Bloubergstrand, known for its epic views back to the city center with Table Mountain as the backdrop. It’s a popular kitesurfing and windsurfing spot when the wind picks up.

7. Hout Bay Beach

Hout Bay offers a unique duo – the harbor beach lined with fishing boats and Sea Point beach with golden sands. Unwind after a day’s exploring with fish and chips along the bustling harbourfront.

8. Fish Hoek Beach

This family-friendly beach has a huge stretch of golden sand and calm, warm water. Spot seals, penguins, and even whales along the shoreline. Jibe Café is the ideal spot for lunch or coffee with a view.

9. Boulders Beach

The famous Boulders Beach is home to a colony of endangered African Penguins. Swim in the pristine, secluded coves or get up close to these cute creatures. It’s one of the few places to see penguins in their natural habitat.

10. Sandy Bay Beach

Near Cape Point, this sheltered bay offers turquoise waters and soft white sands with hardly any crowds. Reach it via the Cape of Good Hope hiking trail for an isolated beach experience. Nude bathing is allowed.

Best Beaches for Surfing in Cape Town


Cape Town is considered one of the top surfing destinations in the world thanks to its great beaches and excellent waves. No matter your skill level, you’ll find awesome spots to catch waves in Cape Town:

  • Muizenberg Beach – Popular with beginner and intermediate surfers, Muizenberg has gentle waves and sandy bottoms. Surf lessons and board rentals are available.
  • Kommetjie Beach – With fast hollow waves, Kommetjie attracts experienced surfers. Spectacular scenery and is less crowded than other spots.
  • Noordhoek Beach – Noordhoek’s powerful waves appeal to confident surfers. It has great right-hand breaks with long rides.
  • Scarborough Beach – Offers incredibly long rides on big swells, making it a top location when the surf is pumping. Not suitable for beginners.
  • Big Bay Beach – Known for the famous “big wave” surfing spot Dungeons, as well as offering options for all levels of surfers.

Top Spots for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling

Cape Town’s cool waters host diverse marine life. Scuba divers can explore shipwrecks, reefs, and kelp forests. Here are the top beaches for scuba diving and snorkeling:

  • Oudekraal – Dive ancient shipwrecks and swim with Cape Fur Seals at this protected reef near Twelve Apostles. Abundant sea life.
  • Millers Point – Spot coral reefs and Cape sea urchins. This site’s four interconnected bays offer scenic exploring.
  • Smitswinkel Bay – Enjoy discovering the remains of shipwrecks and schooling fish. Calm and shallow, making it family-friendly.
  • Three Anchor Bay – Swim through the kelp forests and sea caverns under the dramatic Twelve Apostles.
  • Buffels Bay – Explore the WWII shipwreck MFV Orotava, as well as reef and wreck dives. Shore entry so no boat is needed.
  • False Bay – From Simon’s Town to Cape Point, False Bay offers superb reef and wreck diving and frequent whale and dolphin sightings.

Where to See Penguins in Cape Town


Can’t miss seeing these adorable birds on your trip to Cape Town! Here are the best spots for penguin viewing:

  • Boulders Beach – This is the famous resident colony of endangered African Penguins near Simon’s Town. You can swim near them or view from boardwalks.
  • Stony Point Penguin Colony – The largest breeding colony of African Penguins, with up to 4,000 penguins on rocky Stony Point in Betty’s Bay.
  • Robben Island – Take a ferry to Robben Island to see the small penguin colony, as well as other historic attractions.
  • Cape Point Nature Reserve – Spot penguins along the beaches and rocky coves as you hike to the Cape of Good Hope lighthouse.
  • De Hoop Nature Reserve – View one of the only inland penguin colonies at this spectacular reserve outside Cape Town.

Planning Your Beach Trip


To make the most of your beach day:

  • Arrive early to beat the crowds, especially at popular beaches like Camps Bay or Clifton.
  • Pack snacks, water, sunscreen, towel, swimsuit, hat, and sandals. Many beaches have no shops.
  • Check the weather and surf/swimming conditions. Windy days suit surfing or kitesurfing.
  • Get cash for parking as attendants only accept cash at some beaches.
  • Don’t forget to stop for a seafood lunch or sundowners at the trendy beachfront cafes and restaurants.
  • Follow beach safety flags and heed any warning signs about ocean conditions.
  • Obey restrictions and view wildlife like penguins from a distance.

With endless golden sands and turquoise waters surrounded by breathtaking scenery, the beaches in Cape Town offer the perfect seaside escape. Whether you’re visiting for the day or spending your whole vacation there, include some time at one of these stellar beaches on your Cape Town itinerary. 

Always remember to soak up the incredible views and make time for leisurely beach strolls, surfing, swimming, or just hanging out on the sand. With this guide to the top 10 beaches, you’re sure to have an amazing beach experience in Cape Town!

Key Takeaways

  • With over 70km of coastline, Cape Town has diverse, beautiful beaches for every interest, from surfing to scuba diving to beach walking.
  • Clifton Beach, Camps Bay Beach, Muizenberg Beach, and Llandudno Beach are the top swimming and sunbathing beaches in dramatic settings.
  • Noordhoek Beach, Bloubergstrand Beach, and Hout Bay Beach offer panoramic scenery alongside water activities.
  • Boulders Beach, Fish Hoek Beach, and Sandy Bay Beach give the chance to see penguins or seals in a natural setting.
  • Surfers flock to Muizenberg, Kommetjie, Noordhoek, and Scarborough for the excellent waves. Big Bay is famous for the huge waves at Dungeons surf spot.
  • Scuba divers can explore wrecks, reefs, and marine life at sites like Oudekraal, Millers Point, and False Bay.
  • When visiting, arrive early, bring snacks and cash, check conditions, use beach facilities, and respect nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Which Cape Town beach is the most swimmable?

A. Many of Cape Town’s beaches are perfect for swimming, but Clifton Beach and Camps Bay Beach are especially popular thanks to their calm, clean waters, white sands, and spectacular mountainous backdrops.

Q. Where can I surf in Cape Town?

A. The best surfing beaches in Cape Town include Muizenberg, Scarborough, Kommetjie, Noordhoek, and Big Bay. These spots cater to all levels of surfers and offer excellent waves ranging from gentle to massive.

Q. What is the most family-friendly beach?

A. Muizenberg Beach is very family-friendly, with shallow waters, a surf school, and other activities. Fish Hoek also has calm water and is great for kids. Noordhoek has horseback riding. Many beaches have playgrounds nearby.

Q. How do I get to the beaches without a car?

A. Many Cape Town beaches are accessible by Metrorail trains, such as Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, and Strand. You can also take the City Sightseeing bus or an Uber. The MyCiTi bus travels to Hout Bay and Camps Bay.

Q. Where can I see penguins?

The top spots to see penguins near Cape Town are Boulders Beach, Stony Point penguin colony, Robben Island, Cape Point Nature Reserve, and De Hoop Nature Reserve. Just remember not to get too close!

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