Bay of plenty should not be kept at bay
Trendy restaurants, bars, views and ocean make Camps Bay the ‘in’ place
AS A glamorous and extremely popular beach in Cape Town, Camps Bay needs no introduction.
There’s something about the liquid gold sunsets, white sand and gin-clear water, the backdrop of the Twelve Apostles and the promise of good times in the funky, trendy restaurants and bars that line Victoria Road behind the beach, that has always ensured Camps Bay is a Cape Town classic.
It is a brilliant beach at which to base yourselves during summer. (And the number of people that visit the beach during summer is testament to this.)
Still, as popular as it is, Camps Bay does hold plenty of secrets and there is more to the beach than meets the eye. In spring and summer, for example, dolphins and whales make an appearance more often than you might expect.
Sometimes – especially in the early morning – small pods of dolphins swim within a few metres of the shoreline.
One of the darker dates in Camps Bay’s history was on December 27, 1794, when the Portuguese slaving ship São Josene, was wrecked here. The ship was carrying 500 Mozambican slaves on board and of these, according to Malcolm Turner in his book Shipwrecks & Salvage in South Africa, 200 of them drowned.
For surfers, Glen Beach, which is tucked away in the small cove on the northern end of Camps Bay, serves up world class waves when the sandbanks have shifted into position (usually during summer). However, this isn’t really one of the area’s secrets any more, as the place can get crowded with wave- hungry surfers. It is advisable to surf during off-peak times, paddle out with a smile on your face and be on your best surfing behaviour.
For bathers, there is a section of beach that is patrolled by lifeguards during the festive season. If you’re keener on a quiet, early morning dip before everyone else arrives, the Bakoven end of the beach is mostly sheltered from wave action. There is also a huge and safe tidal pool below the grassy embankments at the southern end of the bay.
Best time to go? Well, crowds at a beach can be a blessing or a curse. If you enjoy a beach packed with people (and you will enjoy Camps Bay), then a windless summer day from mid-morning until late afternoon is perfect. For a quieter, more intimate experience with the Camps Bay shoreline, as early as possible is best – until beachgoers start to arrive at about 10am.
CAPE CLASSIC: Camps Bay is a brilliant beach at which to base yourself during summer.