City’s Blue Flag beaches beckon to visi­tors

Plan is to in­crease the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional sea­side at­trac­tions, says mayco mem­ber

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - KOWTHAR SOLOMONS

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:

● 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.

TOP NOTCH: Clifton’s Blue Flag Fourth Beach is a must-see but there is no ac­cess for the phys­i­cally dis­abled.

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