Known to be the busiest time of the year for Cape Town, during December locals know all too well to brace themselves for the influx of tourists flocking to the popular beaches. It is during these times that I slip away to secluded spots instead.
While many of the trendy beaches in Cape Town have amazing tidal pools, if you prefer less people, be sure to visit some of the tidal pool locations on my list. What’s great about these locations is that they are tucked away from the madness that comes with the festive season and still offer a picturesque view of the sea.
Here’s my guideline to exploring some of the hidden gems in my city that I’ve discovered over time.
Tidal Pools in Cape Town:
St James Beach
St James beach is one of the most visited beaches in Cape Town, as it is well known for its large tidal pool and array of iconic colourful beach huts. For sure, during the holiday season (December to January) you’ll find the beach packed with locals and tourists eager to catch a tan and a swim in the cooling waters of the tidal pool. But if you’re looking to enjoy the tidal pool and beautiful view minus the crowd, head to the beach during the early morning for a swim or jog. In addition, from February until mid-March while the weather is still sunny you’ll find the beach less busy.
St James beach is in close proximity to nearby restaurants, luxury accommodation, stores, and even has some heritage sites.
Here’s a list of some of the great restaurants in St James:
- Octopus’ Garden
- C’est la Vie
- Trattoria Antonia
Now that the road works on the main road leading to False Bay have been completed, driving to St James beach is no problem. If you’re up for a more adventurous trip be sure to travel by the public train, as the St James train station is right next to the beach.
Other than tanning, sandcastles, and laps in the tidal pool, you should go for a scenic walk down the charming pathway running to the neighbouring beach Muizenberg, which is well known for surfing and vibrant restaurants.
I’ve found that Glencairn is the last place people consider when travelling along the False Bay coast of Cape Town. Bear in mind, Glencairn beach is in close proximity to the tourist hotspots False Bay and Simons Town, which could explain why many travellers just pass by, sometimes without noticing the little haven.
Glencairn beach is easy to miss especially when you’re driving to get to the neighbouring suburbs of False Bay and Simons Town, your best bet is to look out for the Glencairn train station, which is located right next to the beach. Here, the tidal pool is quite similar to the one of St James beach but has yet to be discovered by the crowds.
Considering its closeness to the neighbouring beaches it’s surprising how Glencairn isn’t packed during the holidays and weekends. Since the secluded beach is located next to Glencairn train station, you can expect a scenic train ride on your way on both sides. If you’re travelling with a car, it’s a pretty straightforward drive seeing that it is situated along the main road connecting to Simons Town.
While it may not be as popular as St James it has all of the qualities for one to enjoy as you would at any other beach along the False Bay coastline. So if you’re the type who would enjoy a quick swim in the refreshing waters of the tidal pool or dip in the ocean, Glencairn beach is the ideal destination even for the sun-loving folk.
I find that the best time to visit this tidal pool is just before sunset as it offers a beautiful viewpoint of the ocean. The exclusive feel is perfect for those seeking tranquillity after being caught up in the hustle and bustle of the main attractions.
Also, there are a few great restaurants and pubs that you should visit. What more could you ask for as you sip on a sundowner while overlooking the sea – the ultimate Capetonian ritual after a long day in the sun.
Peregrinate the False Bay coast to the small town of Kommetjie. A popular surfing and kite surfing location, Kommetjie is also a world-class windsurfing destination. Tucked away south of Long Beach at De Kom (Dutch for bowl) you’ll find the wide tidal pool accompanied by a breath-taking view of the sea. Most people spend the entire day here, as it’s a great opportunity to have a picnic with the family all while enjoying the sun.
While Kommetjie may be a little town it sure has plenty attractions that you should visit while in town.
These attractions include:
- Bird watching: Most bird watching activity mainly takes place in the De Kom area.
- Slangkoppunt Lighthouse: Tallest cast iron lighthouse in South Africa.
- Imhoff Farm: Includes camel rides and reptile park.
- Restaurants: There are a ton of popular restaurants in Kommetjie.
- Soetwater Recreational Area: Camping site.
There’s no official public transport that goes all the way to Kommetjie aside from a bus service that ends in the neighbouring suburb, Noordhoek. The best option is to drive with a car as it will give you the opportunity to stop along the way and enjoy the majestic view of the coastline and suburbs below as you drive high up along the mountain.
Situated between two main attractions, Simons Town and Cape Point, Miller’s Point is often is the last place included in a tour down the False Bay coast. Here, you’ll find two small sandy coves and a spectacular tidal pool. It’s hard to believe how a beautiful destination such as Miller’s Point is excluded, but this could be due to its close proximity to the popular attractions.
The beach offers a lush expansive lawn, braai (South African name for barbecue) area and a boat-launching site for speedboats. This is the ideal location if you’re looking to enjoy a day in the sun with the entire family. On a clear day (roughly between November and February) you’ll get a beautiful view of the cliffs plunging into the sea.
Nearby attractions include:
- Table Mountain National Park: Stretches from north of Cape Town down to the Cape Peninsula, includes Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
- Cape of Good Hope: The most south-easterly point of South Africa.
- Bird watching
- Shark cage diving
- Blue Marlin Restaurant: Popular seafood restaurant.
- Boat trips: Venture a scenic boat trip to Cape Point where you’ll get to sightsee the breath-taking coastline.
While the coastal drive to Miller’s Point is a spectacular experience, be sure to be on the look out for baboons. It’s advised that you refrain from feeding them as they’re known for their vicious behaviour and therefore it’s best to roll up your car windows.
There’s no doubt that Cape Town’s popular attractions should not be missed; however, I find that the hot spots are often glamourized to a point that tourists don’t get a true sense of the city. Use the above-listed unique guideline for not only the tidal pools but also to explore the turns and corners of Cape Town that are less travelled but worth the effort.
Travel tip shared by Anthea Adams