Clifton Beach, an urban paradise. Clifton Beach is made up of four coves and the beaches are called First, Second, Third, and Fourth. When the summer south-easter blows, the Clifton beaches are usually well sheltered from the wind but to be honest, it’s great to visit all year round.
I went there on my last day in Cape Town, on the 13th of May, which is technically the African winter, and the sun was so bright (it never gets so bright in the UK). The reason I went there was to photograph the biggest newsmaker of the day – the Japanese vessel, Eihatsu Maru, which had run aground in the thick fog at 5:15am a day earlier.
Of the 28 Taiwanese crew members and dog on board, 19 were evacuated. The dog remained on board on the insistence of the captain, its owner. There were a lot of curious people chatting away and taking pictures. Some even attempted to cross the security line to get to the ship to buy some tuna, but the security patrol was quick to appear from behind the rocks where they were being sheltered from the sun. After returning to London I learned from the web that five days later, the ship has been moved off the sand banks and was being towed into deeper waters for further inspection.
But let’s get back to some facts…All of the beaches are accessible via stairs leading down from the road above. In the summer, plan to get to the beach early as parking is very limited. Generally, 4th is the busiest in summer with good changing room and bathroom facilities.
A fifth beach, before First Beach, called Moses Beach (called as such because of the papyrus plants that grow along it), appears and disappears as the sand is washed in and out with the seasons. The water, although chilly (12–16 °C), plays host to many water sports, mostly surfing, both board and body. The strongest surf is at First, diminishing to Fourth, which is the weakest. Fourth Beach (to the South), is the most populated and glamorous section.
Clifton’s Fourth Beach has also been awarded the Blue Flag award in recognition of its environmental, safety, and tourist standards.
It is an exclusive residential area and is home to some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa with dwellings nestled on cliffs that have sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean (great for taking pictures while being jealous).
There are vendors selling water and ice cream, so don’t worry if you forgot to bring something. Excellent for sunsets too.