The Extra Mile
Don't tell Capetonians we told you, but these are their best 'secret' beaches
Elizabeth Sleith risks the wrath of the locals to tell visitors where to find those hidden gems
Q. We will be visiting Cape Town in May with friends from Germany and are looking for some off-the-beaten track places to go, especially some less touristed (but still beautiful) beaches. - H Gruner
A. Cape Town is, of course, world famous for its gorgeous beaches, the most popular of which include Clifton 4th, Camps Bay, Llandudno, and Boulders. But locals and savvy visitors looking to avoid the crowds have several options to choose from.
Smitswinkel Bay is a secluded bay on the coastal road out of Simonstown. It lies at the bottom of a steep cliff just before the entrance to the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
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You'll leave your car at the top and hike down along a steep, zig-zagging path. It's a roughly 20-minute walk on which you're guaranteed to work up a sweat, but it's manageable and well sign-posted and definitely worth it for the hours you can while away in relative seclusion enjoying the fine sand, big boulders, rock pools and the warmer waters of False Bay.
Take everything you'll need, as there are no shops, and the serenity here - along with the daunting prospect of the walk back up to the car - will surely prompt you to linger a while.
Another one nearby is Water's Edge in Simonstown, between Seaforth and Boulders beaches. Its lovely bay boasts several rock pools, and snorkellers have a fine time here in the crystal-clear waters. Thrill-seeking swimmers can also get their rocks off by leaping from the boulders into the blue.
Perhaps because of its proximity to many of Cape Town's most popular beaches, little Beta Beach at Bakoven in Camps Bay manages to maintain an atmosphere of secrecy.
The sand is coarse but edged by giant boulders, which you can park on instead
The sand is coarse but edged by giant boulders, which you can park on instead, and it has great views of Camps Bay, the 12 Apostles and Lions Head.
Also, don't forget about the Cape Point Nature Reserve itself. Most tourists head there to visit Cape Point, but there are several incredible beaches in the reserve that deserve a visit too. These include Diaz Beach, down a steep set of wooden stairs; the relatively sheltered Buffels Bay Beach, where you can safely swim in the tidal pools; and Platboom, a wild stretch of sand where swimming is not recommended but strolling is a must. See capepoint.co.za.