SUMMER TIME MEANS BEACH TIME

It may have taken its time to arrive but now that summer is here, I’m keen to make use of it. There’s no doubt that Cape Town has a plethora of things to do during silly season and if you don’t get out and about, you might miss out on some serious fun. In all honesty, you don’t really have any excuses not to get out because of the amount of daylight we get during the summer. During the winter we look at pure darkness after 18h30 whilst in summer we’re blessed with sunsets closer to 20h30. Hell, you can still catch a tan on Clifton at 20h00 during the summer. What a pleasure! Another blessing in the Fairest Cape are our beaches. Blistering white sand, fresh blue ocean and sun-kissed bodies are how I’ve remembered my summers in the Cape and I’m planning on making more of these memories this summer. On Blue Flag Beaches nonetheless and it’s a privilege to say that the Western Cape holds 27 of these Blue Flag beaches.

Just in case you’re wondering what a Blue Flag beach is, read the following explanation:

“Blue Flag is an international award given to beaches that meet strict criteria for cleanliness, water and sand quality, as well environmental education and management. The criteria are set by the Foundation for Environmental Education, the international co-ordinators of the Blue Flag campaign in Europe. In South Africa it is headed by the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa.

It is focused on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats, and is designed to raise environmental education and awareness, as well as increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local residents and beach management.”

WOW! What pleasure to have 27 of these pristine beaches in our province. Here are 11 of these 27 which are within a couple of hours drive of Cape Town:

1. BIKINI BEACH, GORDON’S BAY *PERSONAL FAVORITE

“Bikini Beach is reputed to have received its name from the bikinis worn by female students from nearby University of Stellenbosch, for whom this beach has been special. Bikini beach is situated in the small coastal town of Gordon’s Bay in the Western Cape.

The beach lies at the foot of the Hottentot’s Holland mountain range. The beach is tucked up against the Gordon’s Bay harbour wall, sheltered from the southerly winds that often blow in the summer months. Due to its location and safe bathing area it is a popular destination for the locals and overseas visitors alike.

The beach is sandy, the water is warm, and the locals are very friendly. There are restaurants and hotels within a short walk from the beach with the nearest being located in the adjacent Gordon’s Bay harbour area where excellent seafood can be enjoyed.”

2. CAMPS BAY BEACH, CAPE TOWN

“Camps Bay beach on the Atlantic coastline is well-known internationally for its pristine white sandy beach and blue tranquil waters.  The world-famous Table Mountain and Twelve Apostles mountain chain looms over the beach.

The paparazzi hang out on this beach and the adjacent restaurants, keeping an eye out for the international stars that regularly visit this part of Cape Town during the summer months.   The beach has a distinctly Mediterranean flavour and vibe.

The wide beach is host to numerous events, e.g. international beach volleyball tournaments and the popular Summer Beach festival. Beach goers are serviced by local beach traders that supply refreshments.

There are lifeguards on duty throughout the summer months. Parking is limited so come early and settle in to enjoy the beach. The beach is well sheltered when the southerly winds are blowing in the summer months.

At the end of the day, walk across the beach and enjoy sun-downers in one of the many sidewalk restaurants and cafes some of the most sought after spots in Cape Town.

There are hotels and B&B’s located within walking distance of this beach.”

3. CLIFTON 4TH BEACH, CAPE TOWN

“One of South Africa ‘s most popular and sought-after beaches.   This popular beach in Cape Town , is visited by stars and the famous and could be described as the “in-scene”.

One of a series of small coves, 4th beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Cape Town  near Camps Bay .

Be warned, the water is always icy-cold. A popular beach when the southerly winds blow during summer as it is well protected. Parking is in limited supply so be prepared to walk from parking sites located above the beach on Victoria Road .

There is no access to the physically disabled as entrance to the beach area is down winding, narrow stairs. Various environmental programmes, including interpretive signage and lifesaving training will be implemented on the beach.”

4. GROTTO BEACH, HERMANUS

“A typical Southern Cape sandy beach with good waves and usually pleasantly warm water.  Very popular beach with locals and holiday makers. The beach can be reached by driving through the town of Hermanus , and as one is leaving the town (drive around a traffic circle) the beach is signposted off the main street of Hermanus.

Hermanus is approximately one and a half hours drive from Cape Town . Lifeguards are in attendance throughout the season. Environmental education projects include: Interpretive Signage,  Employees Training,  “Coastcare working  for the coast” has eighty-two workers in the area controlled by the Overstrand Municipality . Environmental Education at all schools in the area. Outdoor classrooms on Grotto Beach is one of their initiatives.  The beach has an interpretive education centre where members of the public can get information on local environmental issues and on Blue Flag.  Local schools undertake coastal monitoring on Grotto Beach and the plaat through the Adopt-A-Beach programme. If you are tired of the beach and the sun, take a walk through the milk-wood tree forest immediately behind the beach – note this is a protected area.

There is a restaurant immediately behind the beach and plenty of parking with a small children’s play park located on the beach.”

5. HAWSTON BEACH, HAWSTON

“Hawston beach is tucked away in the little town of Hawston on the coast as one drives towards the town of Hermanus .   A truly beautiful beach with views of the sweeping mountains along the Cape coastline and along the extensive dune system which stretches from the beach along the coast for some distance.  Hawston beach has some of the safest swimming water in the sea along the Western Cape coastline.  Treat the sensitive dune systems with care and walk along the designated board-walk systems only.

There are picnic areas and braai/barbecue facilities in the back beach area as well as an Abalone restaurant adjacent to the beach.

Very rustic, very rural and worth a visit.  Lifeguards on duty from 1 December through to 31 March 2009.   Interpretive signage allows one the option to learn more about the unique vegetation and natural resources of the area.”

6. KLEINMOND BEACH, KLEINMOND

“A popular whale watching site during the winter months, Kleinmond beach is a natural, unspoilt beach set at the mouth of the Kleinmond Lagoon near Hermanus in the Western Cape.

This beach is popular with South African holidaymakers and worth a visit by overseas tourists.

Conditions at the beach can be windy during the summer months. Lifeguards are on duty during the months of December through to March each year. The beach is sandy and wide and offers beachgoers excellent walking opportunities or to simply sit on the rocks and enjoy the scenery.

The beach can be reached by driving on the N2 out of Cape Town , over the Hottentots Holland mountains (Sir Lowry’s Pass) and then taking the turn-off to Hermanus. The sign post to Kleinmond is well-marked on the road to Hermanus.”

7. LLANDUDNO BEACH, CAPE TOWN

“Situated between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, Llandudno is undoubtedly one of Cape Town’s most picturesque beaches. Motorists driving along the main road above get only a glimpse of greenish waters, white surf and grey monolithic rocks. From the water’s edge, the beautiful white beach is framed by natural bush, granite boulders and steep slopes on either side forming a dramatic mountain backdrop. The elite residential area of Llandudno displays spectacular architectural showpieces clinging to these steep slopes.

Llandudno is popular for sun bathing while confident surfers and body-boarders experience a strong current and powerful breakers. Only a few people venture into the water for a quick swim, since the sea is usually icy cold in summer due to the wind-generated upwelling of clear, cold bottom water.

The beach rarely becomes overcrowded since the parking space here is limited. Facilities at Llandudno include two ablution blocks and an established lifesaving club.”

8. MNANDI BEACH, CAPE TOWN

“On the warm False Bay coastline, Mnandi beach is popular with local residents of Strandfontein and Khayelitsha. During the early summer, it can be particularly windy, and the currents treacherous. Only swim between the yellow/red flags which the lifeguards put on the beach to mark off the safe swimming area.

Professional lifeguards are on duty throughout the season. There is plenty of parking, which is well situated so that one can sit in the car and watch the sea, whales and seals. The adjacent recreational area adjacent to the beach at Mnandi offers water slides, picnic areas and an enjoyable day in the sun. Lifeguards are also on duty here.”

9. MUIZENBERG BEACH, CAPE TOWN

“Muizenberg has been a popular destination for beachgoers for hundreds of years when it was a popular destination for many people who spent the summer months on the coast many of whom would have travelled over land to get to Muizenberg.

On this sandy, wide beach one can still see the characteristic and colourful, beach changing boxes.  Today, Muizenberg beach is popular with families as the Muizenberg Pavilion offers a waterslide, outdoor swimming pool and putt-putt (mini-golf) course. A 30 minute walk along the seafront walkway (Muizenberg towards St James) enables visitors to enjoy the proximity of the shoreline sea-life and whale watching (June to November).  There are numerous restaurants in the back beach area.

Surfers Corner, at the end of the beach is an excellent spot for novice or beginners surfers and there are many interesting shops to explore in the back beach area.  Café’s and restaurants in Surfers Corner make really good cappuccinos. A number of local surf shops hire out surfing equipment and offer lessons.”

10. SILWERSTROOM BEACH, WEST COAST

“Silwerstroomstrand, named after the ‘silver stream’ to the north, is a coastal resort situated along the West Coast approximately 13 km north of Melkbosstrand and 10 km west of Atlantis.  The excellent water quality and expansive stretch of coastline in such a secluded setting makes this beach attractive for those wanting to get away from the city bustle.

Silwerstroomstrand lies at the southern edge of an immense bay where swimming in the sea is made possible by a small rocky point that adds protection from the swell. a tidal pool is also available for a warmer swim without waves. Silwerstroomstrand offers day visitors various picnic sites and braai areas while holidaymakers are accommodated in bungalows or in the caravan park. A slipway is available for boat-launching and the shore for angling. Other facilities available include an extensive parking area, several ablution blocks and paved walkways. Lifeguards and Law Enforcement services are also provided at the beach.

Silwerstroomstrand is ideal for long walks on the beach, which extends  as an unbroken stretch of sand for some 3 km. A vast dune field backs the northern half of the beach, part of which is a bare sheet of sand migrating in the prevailing southerly wind, while the rest is covered with strandveld vegetation. The resort falls within the Koeberg Power Station and Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve due to its conservation worthiness. Environmental education possibilities here are endless.”

11. STRANDFONTEIN BEACH, STRANDFONTEIN

“Strandfontein beach is situated on the False Bay coastline and is well-known for having the biggest tidal swimming pool in the southern hemisphere.  Here one can swim very safely under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards. It is interesting to note that the latest Free Willy movie was filmed in and around this tidal swimming pool.

The beach is frequented by both local inhabitants as well as domestic and international tourists.  The water is warm but be warned, in the early summer months, the beach can be quite windy. Numerous events are staged at the beach that will appeal to the beachgoer.  The beach is known for its safe bathing conditions and is guarded throughout the year by the voluntary lifesaving clubs based at the beach, the local NSRI and Strandfontein Lifesaving Club.”

What an absolute pleasure. I’m going to make an effort to visit all of these beaches during the summer and report back on my favourites. Maybe I’ll bump into you guys out there?

Remember, you have no excuses.

You stay classy,

NR

 

Source: [Blue Flag South Africa]

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