November 17

Clifton Beaches – Why We Love Them

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November 17, 2022

The perfect beach day, you say? Well, that can definitely be arranged! Cape Town's upmarket suburb of Clifton is set on the slopes of Lion's Head overlooking the azure Atlantic ocean. This seaside suburb is renowned for its spectacular natural beauty with pristine Blue Flag beaches, shimmering ocean and stunning mountainous backdrop. You might even bump into one of our Travel Experts since we love sunbathing on the picture-perfect white sand. So, here's all you need to know about the different Clifton beaches during your stay in Cape Town.

Aerial view of our beautiful Clifton beaches and coastal road in Cape Town

The Clifton beaches are incredibly popular in summer, and for good reason! 

Where Cape Town Likes to Show Off: Clifton Beaches

Our Clifton beaches are divided by large granite boulders making up four distinct coves which are mostly shielded from Cape Town's notorious south-easterly winds. Named after the order in which they appear when travelling from the city centre, Clifton's first, second, third, and fourth beaches each have their own distinct personalities and attract a unique crowd. Let's tell you more...

Clifton First Beach

The first of the Clifton beaches is tucked away from the busy crowds but just as easily accessible as the others. Most often frequented by locals and surfers, this beach has the best waves, making it the perfect spot for watersports! It's also ideal if you'd rather sunbathe, as the water might be a tad too chilly for a swim, but it has exquisite views.

Beachgoers enjoying the sun on Clifton 1st Beach

Beachgoers enjoying the sun on Clifton First Beach

Clifton Second Beach

Another suburb stretch of sand, Clifton Second Beach is popular among the laidback, younger crowd and beach sports enthusiasts. The more active beachgoer can enjoy a game of volleyball, beach bats, frisbee or whatever floats your boat, while the rest can enjoy being sprawled out in the southern hemisphere rays.

Drone photo of Clifton 2nd beach in Cape Town

The Clifton Second Beach in all of its tranquil beauty

Clifton Third Beach

This beach is possibly the prettiest of the Clifton beaches and often not as crowded as Fourth Beach! It's popular among the Capetonian gay crowd – although plenty of straight people frequent this peaceful beach too. With the vibey atmosphere, this beach exudes, you can easily turn your beach day into sundowners and watch the sun sink behind the Atlantic Ocean's horizon.

Man and woman walking on Clifton beach in Cape Town

The Clifton beaches are perfect for romantic strolls

Clifton Fourth Beach

Last but definitely not least, Cape Town's famed Clifton Fourth Beach's pristine white sand, glistening waters and millionaires' yachts anchored in the bay makes it the most luxurious beach in Cape Town. A favourite among trendy residents and families alike, there's nowhere better to spend your holidays than on this soft sandy beach, watching the yachts bobbing on the water in the distance while you soak up the sun.

Clifton 4th Beach dotted with umbrellas and beach-goers

Clifton Fourth Beach is a must-visit during your Cape Town holiday

The Nitty Gritty of Cape Town's Clifton Beaches

Best Time to Visit 

The warmest months of the year in Cape Town are November to late March, with February being the hottest month of the year. The average daily temperatures during summer are between 17°C (63°F) and 28°c (82°F), although it can reach as high as 40°C (104°F).

The sunniest days in Cape Town are in December, with the most recorded hours of sunlight, averaging around 13 hours of daylight per day – perfect for our popular Clifton beaches!

How to Get There 

Located less than 5km (or 3 miles) away from Cape Town's city centre, Clifton is the ideal day trip. In the height of summer, the beaches will be packed from dawn to dusk, and parking is scarce. We definitely recommend grabbing an Uber or a hotel shuttle – unless, of course, you're staying close enough to simply take a stroll to the beach!

Stay a While

Speaking of accommodation, the ideal way to experience this up-market neighbourhood is by staying in the uber-chic hotels in Clifton and surrounds. It's a haven for foreign jetsetters like yourself!

The 21 Nettleton in Clifton - one of Cape Town's most stunning suburbs

The luxurious accommodation in Clifton will have you feeling like a million bucks, Image Credit: 21 Nettleton

What to Pack 

You should never underestimate the African sun. With a UV index of six and above in the summer months, it's very important to always pack sunblock (yes, you read that right, sunblock, not tanning oil), a hat and a bottle of water. And, although we love walking barefoot on the beach as much as the next person, you will need a pair of sandals for the sidewalks.

That being said, make sure to pack light when heading to the beach. You'll have to descend (and later ascend) numerous stairs before you can kick back and relax. 

Typically, you don't need cash anywhere in Cape Town, as most places will have card facilities. However, the various beaches have umbrellas and loungers available for hire so perhaps take a small amount of cash if you're interested.

Things to Do at The Clifton Beaches

A day at the Clifton beaches can be much more than just sunbathing, beach sports and swimming. Those wanting a more relaxing beach experience can even book a professional massage during summer. You can also charter a yacht for a champagne sunset cruise or even attend events on the beach, such as fire jamming, silent discos and even yoga classes!

There are no restaurants in Clifton itself, so if you plan to have lunch while you're out, make sure you pack a picnic. Otherwise, Camps Bay's world-class restaurants, bars and nightclubs are only a few minutes away.

Locals love ending their days on balmy summer evenings with a sunset picnic on one of the Clifton beaches. If you arrive in the late afternoon, you'll discover a festive environment, complete with blankets strewn out on the beach, as everyone gets ready to watch Cape Town's exquisite sunset.

Scenic sunset from the Clifton beaches in Cape Town

Scenic sunset view from the Clifton beaches

Our Expert Tips 

While the Clifton beaches are more shielded from the wind than many other beaches in Cape Town, we recommend you opt for either Clifton Second or Third on very windy days. Their cove formations provide the best protection.

If you want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage, please be warned that, in South Africa, it's illegal to drink alcohol in public spaces. But don't let that get you down! There are plenty of gorgeous spots in Camps Bay where you can enjoy a refreshing drink – and legally, we might add!

An important note: None of the Clifton beaches has access for those with mobility restrictions, as there are only stairs leading to the beaches. But don't worry, Cape Town offers many other beaches that are more accessible. Take a look here.

Ladies drinking champagne at Cafe Caprice in Cape Town

Enjoy a glass of bubbly after an amazing day at the beach, Image Credit: Cafe Caprice via Facebook

Visit the Clifton Beaches on Your Next Summer Vacay

Our Clifton beaches have appeared on numerous lists for being among the best beaches in the world. And it's not hard to see why! From exquisite views to a relaxed vacation vibe, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better beach to spend your South African summer.

Are you ready to book your next beach holiday? Contact one of our Rhino Africa Travel Experts today. We look forward to welcoming you to our beautiful continent!

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About the author 

Savannah St Claire

Born in the picturesque City of Cape Town, Savannah is no stranger to the beauty and adventure Africa has to offer. With a bachelor's degree in Digital Marketing under her belt and a passion for travelling in her heart, she is taking to her new path in life like a moth to a flame. When not chasing sunsets, you'll find her enjoying the fine things in life and South African wines are no exception!

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