The Best Spots to Go Swimming in Cape Town in 2024 

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by thecapetownblog

Looking for the perfect swimming spot in Cape Town?

Although the city is renowned for its beautiful beaches, the choppy waves means that they’re not always the best for swimming. But if you know where to go, there are plenty of fantastic places to swim in Cape Town, and while living here I’ve certainly found some firm favourites. From hidden beaches to pretty rock pools and even places to swim with penguins (yes, really), there are tons of great choices.

So grab your cossie and let’s dive in! 

1. Clifton 4th Beach 

Pros

  • Beautiful 
  • Easy to access 
  • Free
  • Toilets and outdoor showers

Cons

  • Can be busy 
  • Hawkers on the beach 
  • No bars or restaurants nearby

Well, duh. 

Clifton 4th Beach is probably the second most famous beach in Cape Town, after Camps Bay. It’s the most popular of the four Clifton Beaches, largely because the water here tends to be calmer, and so much better for swimming. I also think that the fact there are far fewer steps down to the beach might have something to do with it! 

Of course, the downside to this is that Clifton 4th can get very busy, especially on weekends between mid-December and January. But it is popular for a reason, and on really hot days, I’d rather hang out on a busy beach where I can swim than swelter in tranquillity. And although there are hawkers here, they’re not pushy and just tend to sell drinks and ice creams, which to be honest are usually welcome! 

2. Camps Bay Beach 

Pros:

  • Beautiful 
  • No steps! 
  • Free
  • Parallel to the Camps Bay Strip, so lots of bars and restaurants nearby 
  • Can be windy

Cons:

  • Very busy, especially at weekends 
  • Lots of hawkers on the beach, who can be quite pushy

Camps Bay Beach is great for swimming, as like Clifton 4th, the water tends to be calmer. I have seen the waves get choppy here, but it’s definitely a less frequent occurrence. However, it can get super busy, especially on weekends, and the hawkers here can be so pushy. Unlike on the Clifton Beaches, they’re not just selling cold drinks, but trinkets, accessories, and artwork. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t go five minutes without being approached by a hawker here, which gets annoying. 

However, the Camps Bay Beach is very beautiful and I really love to swim here, especially as the view of the Twelve Apostles from the water is hard to beat. It’s also super handy that there are so many beach bars and restaurants nearby, as the beach runs alongside the buzzing Camps Bay strip. This is definitely an advantage over the Clifton Beaches, although Camps Bay Beach is more open than the Cliftons, which means you tend to feel the wind more here.

And if you do come here and find the water is a little too choppy that day, it doesn’t matter too much, because it’s right next to two big tidal pools. Which leads me to my next item…

3. Maidens Cove + Camps Bay Tidal Pools

Pros:

  • Scenic views of Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay Beach
  • Parallel to the Camps Bay Strip, so lots of bars and restaurants nearby 
  • Free

Cons:

  • Can get busy
  • Sitting on the rocks can get uncomfortable after a while

I’ve grouped these two gorgeous tidal pools together as they sit on either end of Camps Bay Beach. Maiden’s Cove is on the northern end and Camps Bay Tidal Pool is on the southern end – you really can’t miss the latter as it’s visible from the Camps Bay Strip. Thanks to its more hidden nature, I find that Maiden’s Cove does tend to be a little quieter, but that’s not to say it doesn’t get busy at times! However, it’s definitely one of the more tranquil places to swim in Camps Bay. 

4. Saunders Rock Beach 

Pros:

  • Ideal sunset spot
  • Convenient location in Sea Point
  • Tidal pool and beach 
  • Rocks and sand to sit on 
  • Plenty of parking nearby
  • Free

Cons:

  • The sea is often full of seaweed 
  • Not as pretty as Clifton and Camps Bay

Saunders Rock Beach is a personal favourite swimming spot of mine (in fact, you can read my full guide to visiting here). There’s a tidal pool and a beach here, and during the summer months it’s a sunset hotspot for the locals in particular. I usually see lots of Wim Hof enthusiasts getting their 20 minutes down at the rock pool, but everyone is welcome. In fact, I think what really sets Saunders apart is its friendly, welcoming vibe – there’s a real community here! 

I guess the drawback would be that it hasn’t quite got the vast, white sand appeal of the Clifton and Camps Bay Beaches, or the epic views of the Twelve Apostles. However, it’s in the perfect position to watch the sunset during the summer. Plus, I quite like the fact that you can stick to the rocks if you don’t feel like getting all sandy. 

During the summer, my friends and I often come to Saunders with a picnic on Friday night to kick off our weekend festivities, or on a weekday evening to end the day on a nice note. However, it’s also a great beach to come for a quick dip during the day, as its location is just so convenient.

5. Sea Point Pavilion 

Pros:

  • Huge outdoor pool
  • Convenient location in Sea Point
  • Changing rooms and showers
  • Lots of food trucks right next door 
  • Nice ocean views

Cons:

  • Not free (although it is pretty cheap)
  • Gets very busy sometimes

The Sea Point Pavilion (aka the Sea Point Pools) is an outdoor saltwater pool, and a very popular swimming spot. There’s an Olympic-sized pool which is ideal for laps, plus a diving pool and two kiddies’ pools. I’ve always found the pool and facilities to be very clean, and for R34.50 per person, it’s a bit of a bargain! 

Since this is an actual swimming pool rather than a beach or tidal pool, you can guarantee that the water here will always be calm and of a reasonable temperature (unlike that arctic Atlantic sea!) However, it perches right on the water’s edge, so you can still enjoy those deep blue sea views. Plus, you’ve got a handful of food trucks right next door – personally, I love The Falafel Guy

I have seen the pools really busy on hot days and weekends, but I’ve also been on weekday evenings and found it almost empty! I think avoiding school holidays is the trick – you can check term dates here.

6. Bali Beach

Pros:

  • Very calm water
  • Quiet
  • Easy to find parking nearby 
  • Free

Cons:

  • No amenities nearby 
  • Pebble beach

Bali Beach is a great little hidden gem of a beach in Bakoven. You can actually walk there from Camps Bay, as it’s a beautiful stroll, although it’s easy to find free parking nearby along Victoria Road. We even managed to find parking here on a public holiday during the middle of summer, so you shouldn’t have any trouble! 

The thing I like the most about Bali Beach is how great it is for swimming. The little cove is protected by rocks, which makes a nice, calm bay for swimming in. It’s easy to get in and out without diving under the waves, and it’s deep enough to swim but there’s no big drop-off to worry about. I think this is a great choice for families with young kids, as you don’t need to worry about them being strong swimmers here. 

However, it is a pebble beach and there’s nowhere to rent sunbeds from, so laying on your towel can get a bit uncomfortable after a while. There also aren’t any toilets or other amenities around. But if you’re looking for a quiet spot to swim in peace, Bali Beach has got you covered. 

7. Water’s Edge Beach and Seaforth Beach

Pros:

  • PENGUINS!

Cons:

  • Out of town

I’ll wager that you’ve probably heard of Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, where visitors can famously go and see the African penguin colony. This beach is covered in boardwalks and swimming is not allowed, BUT after checking out Boulders Beach, it’s possible to go to one of the public beaches around. They’re generally quite sheltered which makes swimming nice and easy, and it’s possible to come across penguins! 

Most people don’t realise this when they visit Boulders Beach, so the small, surrounding beaches tend to be quite quiet. Water’s Edge Beach and Seaforth Beach are both easy to find, so feel free to go for a dip! However, please do remember to be respectful of the penguins and not to touch them. This is for both their sake and yours, since they bite! 

8. The Langebaan Lagoon in West Coast National Park 

Pros:

  • Warm water
  • Absolutely beautiful
  • Quiet 
  • Toilets and taps

Cons:

  • Entrance fees
  • An hour’s drive from Cape Town

I’ve certainly saved the best for last!

No, seriously, the Langebaan Lagoon in West Coast National Park is hands down my favourite place to go for a swim. It’s one of the best beaches I have ever visited, and after a summer of dunking myself in the freezing cold sea at the Clifton Beaches, I couldn’t believe how warm the water was in comparison. And it’s calm and fairly shallow, too, so it’s perfect for paddleboarding, kayaking, or just floating contentedly! 

The lagoon is a 1.5-hour drive north of Cape Town, so it’s not great for a spontaneous swim. However, when hot weather is forecast, I recommend planning to load up the car and head here to escape the crowds, the waves, and the cold water. Just make sure to bring a coolbox full of food and drink, as there are no shops or restaurants around here. 

The beaches in Cape Town are stunning but I do think the lagoon is a real must-see. It’s 100% worth the drive and the entry fees (R74 for locals and R116 for internationals during the summer season). I can’t wait to go again! 

Thanks so much for reading this post! Nothing beats a refreshing swim on a hot day in beautiful Cape Town, so I hope it helps you to find your perfect spot. And if you need more ideas on what to get up to in the Mother City, feel free to check out the following: 

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