Category General News
Clifton - synonymous with white sand and azure waters nestled between boulders. Hot summer days, granadilla lollies and the smell of suncream may come to mind at the mention of the name. So what can you see and do in Clifton?
The obvious answer is to spend a day lounging on the sand or going for a dip in the cold Atlantic water. Clifton is a highly popular spot for sun-chasers and holidaymakers and is less crowded than Camp’s Bay beach, but that’s because there are actually four beaches at Clifton.
Clifton 1st and 2nd beaches are the longest, stretching in front of high-rise apartment blocks. Clifton 3rd is the smallest, most-secluded of the four and Clifton 4th beach is the most popular. Depending on your personality and preference for privacy, the four beaches each offer something different.
Where is Clifton?
The coastal suburb lies between Camp’s Bay and Bantry Bay, on the rocky and steep slopes at the base of Lion’s Head. There are two main roads running through Clifton to Bantry Bay - Victoria Road (from Camp’s Bay) and Kloof Road (from Table Mountain).
Clifton is only 0.67 sq.km in size and has around 500 full-time residents. This affluent suburb attracts many international property buyers, so many of the homes in the area are used as holiday houses. The properties come in the form of apartment blocks or freestanding beach houses, and are often some of the most expensive in the country, attracting wealthy investors.
A brief history of Clifton
Clifton was once known as Skoenmakers Gat (Shoemakers Cave) as an old shoemaker lived in the caves above 2nd beach. It is said that he would mend farmers’ shoes as they made the journey from Camp’s Bay into town to sell their produce.
The first settlement in Clifton was established in 1783 when a botanical garden was set up on the lower slopes of Lion’s Head. In 1890, Skoenmakers Gat was renamed after the local inn-keeper, Bessie Clifton, and the following decade saw Clifton-on-Sea transform into a popular holiday spot for locals.
Small wooden beach houses were constructed and the sheltered beaches made the area an ideal vacation location. The style and preference for wooden beach houses still remain above Clifton 3rd and 4th beaches. The rapid development was halted in 1984 after the area was declared a National Monument to protect the delicate ecosystem from complete destruction. Apartment blocks were not allowed to be developed beyond Clifton 1st beach.
Things to do in Clifton
The beaches in Clifton are consistently rated as some of the best in the country every year, even ranking in Discovery Travel Channel’s Top Ten Beaches worldwide in the early 2000s. The current Blue Flag status of the beaches prove that they are indeed some of the best in South Africa.
The cold water temperature has not stopped surfers and swimmers from enjoying the waves, and the clarity of the water makes it a great spot to swim and snorkel. Surfers prefer to catch the waves off Clifton 1st where they are large and long. As you move south towards Clifton 4th, the waves diminish in size.
The beaches are popular spots for sunset events such as beach bonfires and parties. Throughout the year, revellers take to the beach to soak up the last of the sun’s rays while a DJ plays some summery tunes.
Outdoor movies and film festivals take place on the beach occasionally. The most popular of these is the Wavescape Surf & Ocean Festival that runs in the last few weeks of the year. Locally-produced surf films and ocean documentaries are screened at the two-week festival, some of which are shown on an inflatable screen on the beach.
Clifton is also renowned for its lavish and festive New Years Eve parties. The Bungalow hosts a party every year where Cape Town’s glamourous and youthful socialites converge for a bash to ring in the new year. The Bungalow is also Clifton’s only restaurant and bar where beachgoers can grab a refreshing cocktail and a bite to eat.
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Author: Berman Brothers