Clifton Beaches: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Blue Flag) Beach

Clifton Beaches: 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Blue Flag) Beach

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Clifton is the heart of Cape Town’s beach scene, pulsating with the energy of the bronzed and beautiful. It’s a place to see and be seen, with itsy-bitsy bikinis, g-strings and designer sunglasses the order of the day. While topless tanning is not frowned upon, total nudity is best saved for Sandy Bay. Just offshore, a few yachts lying at anchor in the clear blue waters add to the exotic flavour. Clifton’s four dazzlingly white beaches, separated by outcrops of granite rock, are the most sheltered in Cape Town.

This means that Clifton can generally be relied upon for perfect conditions in summer, even when the wind chases people off other beaches. Temperatures can soar on the back beach, but down near the water’s edge the icy sea has a welcome cooling effect. Here, on the hard, wet sand, more active types work up a sweat with beach bats and frisbees, periodically taking a refreshing dunk in the shallows. Others prefer a quick shower to cool off when roasting in the sun gets uncomfortably hot. Vendors ply the beaches selling snacks and drinks, so it is possible to spend a few hours on the beach without wandering far. Each of the four beaches has its own special character.

1st Beach, where many of the locals and old-timers go, is the least crowded, but lacks the cosy atmosphere of the other beaches as it is overlooked by exclusive beachfront apartments. 2nd Beach is considered the place to go for a few hours in the sun without too much hype, while 3rd Beach is a popular rendezvous spot for gay men. Finally, 4th Beach is usually packed with trendy people but is also frequented by family groups, being closest to ablution facilities and parking areas. Clifton 4th Beach is a blue flag beach and one of South Africa's most popular and sought-after beaches. Visited by stars and the famous, 4th beach at Clifton is the in-scene. One of a series of small coves, 4th beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Cape Town. Be warned, the water is always icy-cold. Various environmental programmes, including interpretive signage and lifesaving training will be implemented on the beach.

For the other beaches, it is possible to park along Victoria Road and walk down steep stairs to the beach - although given Clifton’s popularity, a free space is invariably hard to find. Even at the end of the day, parking is in short supply, because as the sunseekers depart another surge of people arrives for sundowners, beach volleyball and other al fresco pastimes.

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