With the hot weather fast approaching in the southern hemisphere, beach season is almost upon us. Cape Town is home to vast stretches of stunning white sandy beaches that attract crowds of beach lovers during the summer season. We don’t know about you, but we like our beaches more secluded. For a true piece of untainted paradise, check out our top five favorite beaches off the beaten track in Cape Town, where the only company will be the local wildlife. Pack a picnic and make a day of it.

1. Smitswinkel Bay

How to get there: Take the M44 and stop just before the Cape Point Nature Reserve, around 20 minutes from Simon’s Town. The trail leading down to the beach is well signposted.
Entry fee: Free

Smitswinkel Bay — © Pixstar / Pixabay.
Smitswinkel Bay — © Pixstar / Pixabay.

Wear some hardy footwear as the steep 20-minute trail down the cliff is a bit of a trek but believe us when we tell you that it’s worth the effort. You emerge from the foliage onto a secret paradise bay that resembles something from a movie. Situated right before the entrance to the Cape Point Nature reserve, Smitswinkel Bay or Smits as its fondly known by the locals is often deserted, as most people prefer to just admire it from above. The sand is powdery soft and white and the waters are calm and crystal clear, which make them ideal for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. The bay is also sheltered from the winds so it’s the perfect spot to catch some rays. Diving enthusiasts will also enjoy exploring the shipwrecks out in the bay that are heavily populated with exotic sea life. Be warned that the beach is unguarded so enter the water at your own risk and only visit during daylight hours. Pack a bag with water, snacks and anything else you might need, as there are no services on the beach.

2. Platboom Beach

How to get there: Enter the nature reserve, follow the main road and branch off towards Dias Cross beacon and look out for the sign to Platboom Beach.
Entry fee: Entrance into the nature reserve costs R135 for adults.

Platboom Beach — © DKunert / Pixabay.
Platboom Beach — © DKunert / Pixabay.

Venture into the Cape Point Nature Reserve and check out Platboom Beach, another magical sandy gem. You can spend another entire day exploring this long stretch of rugged, picture-perfect beach, hidden from the road behind rolling sand dunes that are also fun to surf down if you bring a board. You can also test your knowledge of birdlife and see if you can spot your terns from your gulls and sandpipers. And keep your eyes peeled for the baboons that sometimes come down from the mountains — just don’t feed them your sandwiches, as they can be quite aggressive. As with Smitswinkel Bay, swim at your own risk as there are no lifeguards and the waves here are bigger. You’re also a little more exposed to the elements on this beach so it’s a popular spot for kite- and windsurfing, if you’re experienced.

3. Diaz Beach

How to get there: From the Cape Point car park, take the trail along the top of the cliffs and follow the wooden stairs down.
Entry fee: Entrance into the nature reserve costs R135 for adults.

Diaz Beach — © Sharon Ang / Pixabay.
Diaz Beach — © Sharon Ang / Pixabay.

Diaz Beach is yet another hidden cove in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, again only accessible on foot. It’s another 20-minute walk down some steep wooden stairs but worth every step for the stunning views. This beach, situated right at the tip of Cape Point, is surrounded by dramatic steep cliffs and is a popular hangout for surfers as it boasts great swell. This also means it’s not the best spot for swimming as the tide can be rough. If you’re not a surfer, you can dip your toes in and then find a nice spot on the sand to set up camp and watch the braver folk take on the crashing waves with their boards.

4. Water’s Edge, Simon’s Town

How to get there: Drive through Simon’s Town and look for signs for Seaforth beach and then park at the car park.
Entry fee: Free

Water’s Edge, Simon’s Town — © Sharon Ang / Pixabay.
Water’s Edge, Simon’s Town — © Sharon Ang / Pixabay.

Situated in Simon’s Town (an hour’s drive southeast from central Cape Town), this beach is another local secret, discretely tucked away between the popular Seaforth and Boulders beaches. From the Seaforth beach car park, follow the path past the back of Seaforth restaurant (which is also a great place for a seafood lunch) and enter through what appears to be a private gate but is open to the public. Here you’ll find a much less crowded little cove with amazing views of False Bay and the Hottentots Holland mountains. There are big granite boulders to jump off into the warm, calm waters and rock pools to explore that are teeming with starfish, sea anemones and other sea life. If you’re lucky, you might meet some penguins while you’re there too.

5. Preekstoel

How to get there: The beach is situated in the West Coast National Park, between Yzerfontein and Langebaan on the R27.
Entry fee: Entry into the West Coast National Park costs between R50 and R70 for adults (depending on the season).

Preekstoel — © Carly Crawford / Pixabay.
Preekstoel — © Carly Crawford / Pixabay.

This pristine, lesser-known sandy beach situated near the Langebaan Lagoon is so-named because of its unique giant rock formation that rises up from the sand and resembles a preekstoel, Afrikaans for preacher’s pulpit. This characterful landmark sits right at the point where the tide meets the beach, offering some welcome shade to swimmers in the shallower waters. It’s a great beach for swimming and snorkeling as the waters are warm and there’s even an eroding old shipwreck to explore. You can also go for a long ramble along the sand, admiring the scenic cliffs covered in fynbos (the local scrublands). If you fancy bringing some meat and doing a spot of braaing (barbecuing), there is a braai area just next to the Langebaan Lagoon.

Originally published on Ailola by Sophie Lloyd on November 3, 2017.