Newsletter - Summer 2010

Posted on Tue December 14, 2010 in Newsletters.

Cape Town Beaches – swim in safety

On Tuesday 12 January when Cape Town was enjoying some really prolonged hot summer weather and thousands of people filled the beaches of False Bay, a  man was attacked by a shark at Fish Hoek  Beach. For many of us who grew up having watched the spectacular Stephen Spielberg movie “Jaws”; the thought of such a horror makes the blood run cold. 

Should this tragedy  put visitors off swimming on our the beautiful beaches of Cape Town or to have a negative impact on tourism? When you are planning your holiday and choosing your Cape Town holiday accommodation,  will you  wonder if the beaches are unsafe and that your life may be threatened by an ocean predator?

False Bay abounds with sharks, especially the fearsome great white shark, but an abundance of prey keeps them far offshore as a rule.  This is the first recorded attack on Fish Hoek beach;  an ever- popular choice for families because of the safe and protected bathing it offers. There have been about 17 shark attacks off the Cape Town’s coastline since 2000,  but only 4 were fatal. There is an active shark spotter programme in place on the beaches of False Bay- a community programme that started at Muizenberg beach in October 2004. The huge success of shark spotting as an effective safety measure has resulted in funding being provided by WWF through the Table Mountain Fund and the City of Cape Town. Since the shark spotter programme was introduced the incidence of shark attacks has decreased significantly. Shark spotters programmes are in place from most of our beaches along the Cape Town Peninsula at these times:

Muizenberg beach corner, St James beach, and Noordhoek beach: 7 days a week from 8 am to 7 pm
Fish Hoek beach: 7 days a week from 8 am to 6:45 pm
Clovelly beach: Weekends, public and school holidays 8 am to 4 pm
Glencairn beach: Weekends, public and school holidays 8 am to 7 pm
When you choose a beach for bathing or surfing, do chose one where you are able to see the shark warning flags :
Black Flag: Shark spotter is on duty but the visibility is poor and it is difficult to determine if there are sharks in the area.
Shark Flag (white flag with a black shark on it): A shark is currently in the area, and bathers should refrain from entering the water.
 If these comprehensive measures do not reassure you , you should be aware that False Bay, Cape Town, South Africa, has many lovely, walled  tidal pools around our bay,  where both children and adults can bathe without having to keep a wary eye out for any dangers.

St James Beach is quite small,  but it offers a large quite shallow tidal pool which is greatly enjoyed by children. Here you will find the brightly coloured bathing boxes that characterise so many picture postcards of Cape Town holiday destinations, and will offer you an opportunity to take great holiday pictures .  St. James is known for its millionaire’s mile of stately mansions from a bygone era, some now converted into up market seaside Guest Houses, Lodges, or Bed and Breakfast establishment. This location was chosen by the wealthy because it is so sheltered from the prevailing South East wind in the Summer.

 A larger tidal pool for serious swimming is found at Kalk Bay. This pool is right at the Brass Bell  restaurant, famous for its sea food, formal and casual dining options. A smaller tidal pool can be found in Dalebrook Pool. Kalk Bay is an enticing little village where one can spend the day. Its main street is lined with galleries, antique and collectible shops and restaurants with quaint Victorian shop fronts. Don’t expect to find much holiday accommodation available here ; because of the small size of the village and valuable properties there are fewer guest houses here than in any other False Bay suburb of Cape Town. Although Kalk Bay has a well earned reputation for great restaurants there is little more enjoyable than walking through the fishing harbour and standing in the long line with the locals waiting to be served at Kalky’s - said by some to serve the best fish and chips in Cape Town. From this little fishing village you can take a boat ride across the bay to the charming and historic naval town that is Simonstown.

Travelling toward Simonstown and Cape Point, past Fish Hoek, is a gem that is overlooked by both locals and visitors alike, which is Glencairn beach. The clean sandy beach is seldom crowded and there is a large tidal pool jutting out from the beach into the sea, making it ideal for children to play and swim in safety. Just opposite the beach you will find the Southern Right Hotel; a picturesque Victorian which has been a watering hole in the South Peninsula since 1904. At their Fluke’s restaurant you can enjoy good food enhanced by the most spectacular views from the deck across the bay.

There are many reasons to linger in Simonstown with it interesting and eclectic mixture of architecture found in what is called the historic mile. There are interesting antique shops and restaurants and it is always busy with tourists. It is here, however, that you will find a wonderfully safe beach, Seaforth Beach, where your family can spend the day lounging on the rolling green lawns from where you can watch your children at play. A little Bay is formed by a number of very large boulders which makes it as protected as if it was a tidal pool and where one can really  enjoy safe swimming. Seaforth restaurant has a reputation for serving good seafood dishes and has a position on the rocks above the water from where you can enjoy a wonderful view to accompany your food.
Just past Simons Town is Boulders beach, synonymous with the population of African Penguins who have decided to make this beach their breeding ground. One has to pay to enter this beach, but it is one of the safest swimming beaches in Cape Town. It lies in a small cove and is protected from both the wind and sea by giant granite boulders.

Finally, a little further on the road towards Cape point you will find Millers point which is a family friendly recreational area, it has a children’s tidal pool, snorkeling, scuba diving.

Be assured that no matter which beach you chose to enjoy your holiday, there is little chance of any danger- certainly less than getting into  your car.

These are the odds against having your holiday spolied :

  • Chance of dying from a shark attack: 1 in 300,000,000
  • Chance of dying from a car accident: 1 in 18,585
  • Odds of fatally slipping in bath or shower: 1 in 2,232

Have fun and remember that your Cape Town South Africa holiday will be all the more enjoyable if you stay at our relaxed, but affordable self catering family accommodation, so click on the tab to Book Now.