Cape’s beaches beckon visitors

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INLSA

Cliftons Blue Flag Fourth Beach is a must-see but there is no access for the physically disabled. Picture Leon Lestrade

Cape Town - It’s beach weather, the holidays are here for most of us, and visitors are arriving in droves.

And beachgoers are spoilt for choice in a city which boasts eight Blue Flag beaches, a status which assures strict safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards.

Recent concerns over water quality do raise issues, but the advice from Belinda Walker, mayco member for community services and special projects, is for people to be alert for warning signs posted in the event of problems.

Weather plays a vital role, and Walker explained that water quality varied according to circumstances, including run-off from stormwater outlets and river pollution.

“Poor water quality can at times be attributed to rainfall events which wash pollution down the stormwater system and rivers. These are often short-term events and, due to the high energy nature of the sea, the pollution dissipates and clears relatively quickly.”

The Blue Flag beaches, which account for a significant proportion of the total of 41 in South Africa, are Clifton 4th Beach, Bikini Beach, Mnandi, Strandfontein, Muizenberg, Silwerstroomstrand, Llandudno and Camps Bay.

A quick list of their special qualities includes:

 

l Clifton’s Fourth Beach is a definite must-see for anyone visiting Cape Town, despite its icy waters. Due to the narrow and winding steps down to the beach, there is no access for the physically disabled.

* Bikini Beach, reportedly named after the tiny bikinis worn by students at the nearby Stellenbosch University, is sheltered from the southerly winds of summer, and is close to the Gordon’s Bay Harbour.

* The 3km stretch of Mnandi Beach offers visitors a kiosk, braai area and a tidal pool, and is watched by 16 lifeguards. There is parking for more than 400 cars.

* Strandfontein Beach boasts the biggest tidal pool in the southern hemisphere. Waters around the area are usually warm, but it can get very windy in early summer.

* Muizenberg Beach, despite its limited 200m stretch, offers entertainment for the whole family. The nearby Muizenberg Pavilion offers children a waterslide, an outdoor swimming pool and a mini golf course. The family can also enjoy a meal from any of the surrounding restaurants.

* Silwerstroomstrand is a resort on the West Coast, about 10km outside Atlantis. Visitors and holidaymakers can rent a bungalow or stay at the nearby caravan park.

* Llandudno, described as one of Cape Town’s most picturesque beaches, with Judas Peak and Klein Leeukoppie on either side of its edges, is best known for its sunbathing or sundowners. The nearby Logies Bay boasts a bit of history as its caves were once used by the Khoisan people.

* One of Cape Town’s most well-known beaches for its pristine shore and tranquil waters, Camps Bay remains a popular spot for local and international visitors, and plays host to the Summer Festival.

Walker said the city would be looking to add more Blue Flag beaches from among its remaining 62 contenders. Only 24 of the beaches have lifeguards on duty during the peak season.

 

“The eight blue flags are of international standard, and we are working towards increasing the number. Generally, the state of Cape Town beaches is good, but there is always more that can be done, and we are working continuously towards this.”

She warned too that thanks to Cape Town’s “highly-populated urban environment”, some pollution of beaches was inevitable.

“Where this occurs, City Health will signpost any beaches not suitable for swimming,” she said, but added that this was “a rare occurrence”.

City authorities, meanwhile, urged those visiting beaches where lifeguards and shark spotters were present to always be aware, and listen to any warnings given.

 

kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

Cape Argus


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