Bay of plenty should not be kept at bay

Trendy restau­rants, bars, views and ocean make Camps Bay the ‘in’ place

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODBEACHES - PAUL WIN­TER

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.

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