Summer is almost here so let’s get into the spirit of sun and sand with a few hidden treasures and lesser known facts about the beautiful beaches of False Bay.
I recently came across a little booklet on Cape Town beaches that is filled with interesting detail about every single beach along the 300km coast from Silwerstroomstrand on the West Coast to Kogel Bay. There’s loads of information regarding swimming conditions, tidal pools (there are 23 in total – perfect for safe swimming), the best times to visit, where to park, a bit of history, and so on. Aside from being extremely handy for any visitor who wants to explore our beautiful coast, what surprised me is that after living here for over 4 decades and having spent far too much of my youth lying in the sun I discovered that there are beaches right on my doorstep that I had never heard of!
I grew up in Sea Point and seldom ventured to the beaches of False Bay so I’m still discovering things about that side of the peninsula – here are a few interesting things about beaches on the False Bay side of the peninsula. The False Bay coastline is fascinating because one tends to think of it as windblown and unappealing, but it’s actually full of sheltered spots, interesting characters and is loaded with history. It’s Cape Town’s secret treasure trove of lovely beaches.
The real name for Froggy Pond beach is Frank’s Bay – named after a certain Frank Muller who once had exclusive fishing rights. Froggy Pond, the nearby camp for disadvantaged children is where Just Nuisance was stationed. Just Nuisance was a dog who was also a fully fledged member of the SA Navy.
There is a little beach next to the golf course called Windmill Beach which is excellent for scuba-diving and was once the site of a Boer prisoner-of-war camp. The windmill is no longer there.
Boulders Beach is one of our most famous beaches and is also one of the most unusual in the world. Here, among large granite boulders backed by thick fynbos is a beautiful white beach shared equally by African penguins and sunbathers. There are over 2500 penguins here and contrary to popular belief, penguins have only been here since the late 1980s. It was a group of school children who discovered the first nests. You can visit the penguins with us on our Cape Point Tour.
Simon’s Town has a small beach called Long Beach – very confusing since there is another Long Beach on the other side of the peninsula, just before Kommetjie.
Two beaches near Simonstown that I had never heard of are Mackerel Beach – not good for swimming, no easy access, but great for anglers. The other is Shelley Beach – tiny but it has a tidal pool, and whales seem to like it as they sometimes come very close.
Dalebrook Beach is another new name to me – tucked between Kalk Bay and St James this beach is popular with families for its rock pools and shallow tidal pool.
Another beach close by is Danger Beach which is well named due to the strong backwash. This is where whales were hauled up and secured by metal rings fixed into the rocks, back in the shameful days when a large whaling station thrived in this area.
The tidal pool at St James was built on the ruins of an ancient Khoi-San fish trap. They built low walls with stones and rocks; water would flow over the rocks and recede through gaps leaving fish behind which could easily be speared. The colourful bathing huts make this one of the most photographed beaches of False Bay!
Buffels Bay in the Cape Point Nature Reserve is the most popular beach in the reserve and easily accessed. With a wide sandy beach, picnic and braai spots, a large tidal pool, a slipway and rock pools, it has something for everyone. This part of the reserve used to be a farm and the homestead still stands, now used as a visitor info centre – well worth a visit. Our Cape Point Tour includes a stop at Buffel’s Bay and the Visitors Centre – we love Cape Point and prefer to allow you to see as much of it as possible.
The stretch of uninterrupted beach from Muizenberg to Kogelberg is 35km long and includes Mnandi Beach, just beyond Strandfontein Beach, which has maintained its Blue Flag Beach status since 2003. Mnandi means ‘lovely, just right’.
Bikini Beach in Gordon’s Bay on the other side of False Bay is a Blue Flag beach but it wasn’t always a beach. Once a rocky shoreline, the sand was deposited as a result of the nearby harbour breakwater built in 1939.
Copies of the booklet ‘Beaches’, published by the City of Cape Town, may be available at some of Cape Town Tourism info centres. Or you can download the PDF version here.