Clifton is arguably the most picturesque and best known beach in the Cape. Split into 4 recognizable segments by huge granite boulders, they have been cryptically named: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th beaches. 1st is closest to town, and 4th towards Camps Bay.
Correctly reputed as a haven for jet setters, Glitterati and million dollar property, it earns this in summer when white yachts and hairy men jostle for moorings just off 4th beach. Volleyball and beach bats take a back seat to socializing, as beautiful bodies posture and glint, evenings are planned and gossip relayed.
Cape town is a cliquey place, so each cove has an indigenous population. Some of the faces on laid back 2nd beach have been there for 20-plus years, and would not be caught dead on “trendy” 4th, and vice versa. 1st is mainly for surfers when swell allows, while 3rd defaults to the innocent and oblivious.
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Pristinely white, and framed by mountains, it is voted among the top ten beaches in the world. It is also our only set of beaches that are sheltered from the “Cape Doctor” summer winds. The sunsets can really knock your socks off and many picnickers skive off work early to crack open a bottle, (or though not really allowed anymore) or get in a last game of beach bats. Whiffs of exotic, illegal tobaccos hang in the air, as do the “songs” of the “Capies” selling drinks and ice cream. The water although blue and appealing, is always scary cold, and only bearable when the sun leaves you no choice. It’s not uncommon for dolphins, seals, and even whales, to be been seen at Clifton, but it is too cool for sharks I tell myself.
Clifton is notorious for its lengthy stone staircases, that you will not feel like climbing with an umbrella, chair, and cooler in tow. (So don’t bring one.) The stairs wind down steeply from the street, to each of the beaches. This is usefull because in winter there is often less sand, making a beach walk from 1st to 4th difficult. Parking can be a game of Tetris, so either arrive early or get a cheap minibus taxi that shuttle in both directions along Victoria road above.
In summer there is a wonderful, and sometimes intangible atmosphere here, so expect to meet some great new people. Clifton Beach should be high on your list of things to do in Cape town, and is one of the cheapest too!