Clifton’s four white beaches are separated by outcrops of granite rocks and are some of the most sheltered beaches in Cape Town. This allows the four beaches of Clifton to provide good conditions in summer, even if the wind chases people off the other Cape Town beaches. Temperatures can soar on the back beach but near the water’s edge the icy sea has a cooling effect. Each of the beaches have their own special character.
The least crowded of the Clifton Beaches is 1st Beach and is the preferred choice for many of the locals and surfers. Due the exclusive beachfront apartments that overlook 1st Beach, it lacks the cozy atmosphere of the other Clifton Beaches. 1ST Beach is situated on the northern side of Clifton, closest to the Cape Town city center and is the smallest of the four beaches. Of the four beaches, 1st Beach provides the strongest surf for board and body surfing. Beach Bat tournaments are also frequently held here.
2nd Beach is popular with the younger crowd and attracts many students playing Beach Bat and Volleyball. While 3rd Beach is more popular with the gay community. 4th Beach is the trendiest of the Clifton beaches and is typically very crowded in summer. It is situated on the Atlantic Ocean and since the water is extremely cold here, the beach is used more for tanning and relaxing than for swimming. 4th Beach has earned Blue Flag status and provide amenities which include toilet facilities, cold outdoor showers, umbrella and chair hire, roaming snacks and refreshment vendors.
Despite the outcrops of granite rocks that separate the beaches, taking a stroll across all four beaches is easily accomplished. Clifton’s ocean is actually colder in summer than in winter due to the prevailing South Easter winds blowing offshore in summer and blowing the warmer surface ocean further away from the coastline. To compensate, much colder Atlantic water flows onshore. The inflow of cold water brings clean white sand with it and extends the width of the beach through the summer season.