Whether you want to just sit and relax, sunbathe, build sandcastles with the kids, people watch, enjoy a romantic sunset, or jump about in the waves attached to a kitesurf, you can do it all from one of the beaches around Cape Town. Being the Atlantic Ocean, the sea has a certain 'chill' factor to it, even in the hot summer months - so don't be fooled by the cobalt blue colour into thinking it is going to be like diving into the Mediterranean - you'll have a bit of a shock! In some places the current is also very strong, so swimming is not always advised.
The beaches listed below certainly have their own unique 'personalities', so it is up to you to choose which one suits you best, or matches your current mood.
The fashionable and extremely popular beach area of Camps Bay is only a short drive from the city centre. Nestled under the Twelve Apostles, it is a long expanse of white sand bordered by lawns, and on warm, sunny days it is absolutely full of sun worshippers, families, volley ball competitions and cold drink vendors.
However, be warned - the beach is not particularly sheltered, so on a windy day you can get a bit sandblasted! If the wind gets too much, there are superb seafood restaurants and bars all along the front to escape into.
Clifton is the place to be seen - an upmarket, trendy destination for tourists and locals alike, with elegant residential homes stretching up the cliff front, some with private cable cars for easy beach access. Its 4 sheltered beaches attract many people in the summer months, and each beach has its own 'following' - First and Second Beach are the places to go if you are looking to show off your body and impress. Try Third if you are looking to impress someone of the same sex, or Fourth if you are feeling more demure (or have your family with you!).
The classic postcard shot of Table Mountain overlooking the bay can be taken from nearby Bloubergstrand Beach, a 48 km stretch of lovely sandy beach lined with sand dunes. Bloubergstrand is about 25 km north of the city, and is a wonderful place if you want a long, invigorating walk along a beach, without tripping over hoards of sunbathers or sun worshippers.
The beach is often exposed to strong winds, so although not ideal for sunbathing, it is one of the best spots on the Cape for windsurfing or kitesurfing. However, you don't have to get wet to enjoy this sport - just sitting amongst the dunes and watching the experts fling themselves out of the water is entertaining enough. If you want to learn to kitesurf during your stay in Cape Town, there are many operators who can be contacted to teach you!