The best Beaches in the Western Cape

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It’s summertime and almost the start of the school holidays, meaning your local beaches are soon to be overcrowded with holidaymakers. While we all like to bask in the sun or frolic in the waves, it’s never fun having to compete for limited spaces on the beach or have people bumping into you while you’re trying to swim in the sea. To save you from these frustrations, we have compiled a list of beaches that are considered to be some of Western Cape’s pristine, ‘hidden gems’.

Noetsie Beach

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For travelers passing through Knysna, Noetsie Beach can be spotted from afar because of a distinctive feature, it is surrounded by a turret of castles.

While these castles now stand vacant for holidaymakers to ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ over, the castles were built in 1932 from stone found prevalent in the area, and were opulent vacation homes used by the rich.

If you’re looking to escape the rigors of your fast-paced city life, Noetzie Beach will provide you with all the tranquility you need. Not only can you explore the depths of the world-famous castles, but the stretches of isolated beach will provide you with some privacy to relax, or take ambles along the coastline. The indigenous forest that falls adjacent to the beach has an abundance of vegetation – an ideal haven for any nature-lover looking to escape the sun and sand.

Diaz Beach

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Diaz Beach is found at the heart of the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Despite its unparalleled beauty of dramatic cliffs, clear blue seas and vast stretches of empty beach, it is relatively unknown to many. The reason for this is largely due to it being ‘off-the-beaten-track’, interested parties have to embark on a lengthy walk in order to reach the beach. However, what awaits you is certainly worth the exercise.

The beach is peaceful and sequestered off from neighbouring beaches. The area is suited to couples looking for an intimate picnic spot to watch the sunset and is also a prime spot for photographic opportunities. While swimming is inadvisable due to the strong currents, surfers will enjoy the challenge of riding massive waves.

While being relatively isolated, be prepared to share the beach with a troupe of baboons. These primates are harmless if you leave them alone, and are only looking to enjoy the summer sun.

Paternoster Beach

Paternoster Beach is located in South Africa’s oldest fishing villages, where locals carry bucketfuls of fish off their vibrantly-coloured, rustic boats. Not only will you be greeted warmly by the locals, but you’ll have the opportunity to purchase ocean-fresh seafood.

Apart from fishing, Paternoster is a multi-purpose beach where you can participate in a range of activity – think wake boarding, sea kayaking, horse riding and windsurfing. During season and at the right time of day, pods of whales and schools dolphins can be spotted from the shore.

The beach is also the perfect spot enjoy a sundowner, head to any one of the beach-side restaurants and marvel as the sun sets over the ocean.

Grotto Beach

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Grotto Beach is one of two flagship beaches in Walker Bay – a protected whale estuary and is recognised as the world’s best spot for land-based whale watching.

What locals enjoy about the beach is its sheer size – it’s rather expansive. Stretching for over two kms, beach-goers can partake in a myriad of activities without impinging on the space of others. You could even play a rowdy game of volleyball without having to worry about your nearest neighbours.

Bathers will enjoy a paddle in the pleasant, temperate waters, a relief from the usual icy currents of the Atlantic. If you worry about venturing into the depths of the ocean alone, put your mind at ease as there will be lifeguards on duty from December to February.

While weather conditions are generally ideal over summer, those windy days are simply unavoidable. While a bit of a bummer for beach-goers looking to catch a tan, take advantage of  the situation by dusting off the old kite and fly it high in the sky.

Boulders Beach

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While it’s crystal-clear waters and white sands are breathtaking, Boulder’s Beach is famous for its colony of African penguins.

These residents can be found in their hundreds roosting, preening and waddling along the rocks. While it’s never a good idea to try pet these seemingly cute creatures, looks can be deceiving, you can stroll along the wooden boardwalk to have a closer look or take a couple of photographs.

While the snow-white sands are appealing to sun tanners, the area is home to a number of rock pools brimming with marine life. Bring along your snorkels and goggles and do some exploring of your own.

Smitswinkelbaai

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While many enjoy the viewpoint located above Smitswinkelbaai, very few are brave enough to walk the steep descent down to the beach. However, as many a local would tell you, it’s not that bad, just be mindful of the loose stones and erosion.

Once you reach the beach, you’ll be greeted with a small, isolated enclave that’s free of holidaymakers for the most part. This is how the locals wish for it to remain, a preserved beach of unspoiled beauty.

While private homes are lined around the beach, they are simple wooden bungalows and not grandiose beach mansions that you’d find elsewhere. And that’s why many love it here, for its simplicity and sublime setting.

While the waves tend to be a little boisterous at times, it is the perfect spot to do some snorkeling, diving, or fishing during peak season. Kayakers are often seen paddling the waves during the early mornings or when the tides are low.

Buffel’s Bay Beach

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Buffels Bay is a relatively sheltered beach situated in the Cape Point Nature Reserve. It is the ideal spot for a picnic or a braai with the family or a place to relax after a strenuous cycle or hike.

While beach-goers looking to bask in the sun can do so, this beach is more geared toward families looking for a fun day out. With numerous rock pools waiting to be explored, we suggest you don your goggles and see what’s beneath the water’s edge.

If you like the beach but hate to get covered in sand, sprawl out on the sprawling, green lawns that precede the beach.

Water’s Edge Beach

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This is yet another ‘off-the-beaten-track’ beach.

Water’s Edge is often mistaken for the neighbouring Boulders Beach because it too, is characterized by several boulders. However, for the most part, it is widely unknown, even amongst the locals.

While there are no cute penguins to coo over, children will enjoy the beach for the rock pools that contain starfish.  Beach-goers looking for a thrill can do so with a jump from the high boulders into the depths below.

If you know of any hidden gems that we haven’t mentioned, please let us know in the comments section below.

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