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Seas the Day: Your Ultimate Handbook To The 5 Best Tidal Pools In Cape Town

best tidal pools in cape town

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When the blazing summer sun begins to peep over Cape Town’s mountains, there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind: cooling down! On my first trip to the Mother City, I never realised why everyone started to flock to the beaches as soon as the summer season started. But after two incredibly hot days in the heart of the city, I had my beach bag packed and I was ready to head off to one myself.

Like plenty of others, I prefer calm, shallow waters rather than the waves of the ocean, which led me on a journey to find something more my speed. And that’s when I started my journey to find the best local tidal pools. Cape Town is truly a wonder, and it wasn’t long before I found some of the most incredible pools I’ve ever been to.

Now, I want to share my list of the best pools with you. So grab your sunscreen and get ready for some fun under the sun!

1. Best For Families: St. James Tidal Pool

St. James Tidal Pool, Cape Town
  • Where to find it: Saint James Beach, Main Rd, Cape Peninsula
  • Distance from Cape Town: 28.4 km (35 minutes)

Between Kalk Bay and Muizenberg is the tidal pool that every local knows about: St. James! Just over half an hour from the city centre, this brightly decorated pool is just beneath the St. James station. The multicolour beach huts here are part of its charm – and make for a great background for an Instagram snapshot!

My partner and I got here pretty early and we were just in time to catch a sunrise swim that was nothing short of incredible. I’m glad we got here when we did, too, since by midday it was pretty busy. The tidal pool was filled with families coming down to enjoy the cool waters, which are mostly shielded from the wind.

While you’re here, I’d highly recommend taking a stroll along the beach and taking as many photos as you can. It’s too gorgeous for words! You may also want to stop by the Folk Cafe St. James for a mouthwatering bite to eat right along the beachfront. It’s a great way to end off your trip here.

2. Best For Peace And Quiet: Miller’s Point Tidal Pool

  • Where to find it: Take theMain Rd to Miller’s Point, Simon’s Town
  • Distance from Cape Town: 47.6 km (55 minutes)

While I love the upbeat feel in the heart of Cape Town, sometimes I want to escape the hustle and bustle. One of my favourite places to escape to is Simon’s Town. Its quaint beach-town feel helps to clear my mind.

Although I’ve been there countless times, I never realised that there was a hidden tidal pool just minutes away from the main road. Just be warned: You’ll need to walk to this tidal pool, which can be tricky if you have any mobility difficulties.

Still, the crème de la crème here is when you get to the tidal pool at Rumbly Bay since its views are absolutely breathtaking. I’ve also found that this pool is one of the most secluded spots I’ve come across (unlike some of the more popular and, therefore, crowded pools around Cape Town).

So, if you want some peace and quiet or to find a romantic spot to take your partner before exploring the historic navy town just 5 km away, this tidal pool is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

3. Best For Views: Maiden’s Cove Tidal Pools

  • Where to find it: Camps Bay Beach, Clifton
  • Distance from Cape Town: 6.9 km (15 minutes)

If you’re looking for some artistic inspiration, or you just want to get away from the city for a while, then why not head over to the Camps Bay Tidal Pool (also known as Maiden’s Cove)? This gorgeous spot actually has not one, but two pools that are great for photographers and view-chasers alike.

Camps Bay is one of the busiest areas around the Mother City and brings crowds of people all year round to get a glimpse of this premium beach and ultimate party spot. This may be important to remember since you won’t want to come here if you’re trying to get away from the crowds of locals and tourists during the warmer months.

There’s also a sandy stretch of golden beach and a grassy area where you can settle down for a picnic or enjoy a braai. That means you can make it a family day and have plenty to do all day long. Just remember to get there early to make the most of your time here.

Because the pools are nestled right between Clifton and Glen Beach, you’re guaranteed views of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles – it’s to die for! I remember being so in awe of the landscape that I didn’t realise that the crowds slowly started to die down as the sun started to set. If you’re planning on staying as late as we did, keep in mind that once the sun goes down, the light fades really quickly.

Pro tip: My partner and I found it incredibly romantic with fewer people scattered around, but I have to say that the later it got, the more the wind picked up. So, if you’re heading out in the afternoon, I’d suggest bringing a jersey with you. It’s better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it.

4. Best For Swimming: Glencairn Tidal Pool

  • Where to find it: Glencairn Beach,Main Rd, Glencairn
  • Distance from Cape Town: 36.7 km (50 minutes)

So I’ve already spoken about how much I love Simon’s Town and the tidal pool at Miller’s Point. But on a whim (and after hearing about yet another pool close by), I made a stop just before Simon’s Town at the Glencairn Tidal Pool. And it was magical.

Found on the southern side of the beach, and right by the train station, this tidal pool is a sight to behold – mostly thanks to it having been refurbished over the years. The walls of the pool were almost entirely rebuilt, which makes the pool the pinnacle of seclusion. It’s a total oasis for solo travellers, families, and couples.

What makes the pool different from the others is that it’s actually deep enough to go for a light swim or a long, relaxing dip. This is a luxury that you’re not likely to find anywhere else, so I’d suggest making the most of it! Just don’t forget to pack your swimsuit.

Pro tip: The afternoons here get incredibly windy, which can make it seem as though it’s cooler than it actually is. Don’t let the cool breeze fool you! You’ll need a hat and some strong sunscreen to protect yourself against the heat since the summer sun can sometimes be deceptively strong.

5. Best Underrated Spot: Dalebrook Tidal Pool

Dalebrook Tidal Pool, Cape Town
  • Where to find it: Dalebrook Rd, between St. James and Kalk Bay Beach
  • Distance from Cape Town: 29.3 km (around 40 minutes)

Only half an hour away from the city and between two of the best beaches in Cape Town is the Dalebrook Tidal Pool. Since I first visited this False Bay tidal pool, I’ve noticed that the crowds of people here are always relatively small, and I just can’t fathom why. It’s the perfect definition of a ‘hidden gem’, and I’d encourage you to visit before everyone finds out about it and it’s overcrowded!

I love getting up bright and early, and I’m obsessed with the sunrises over the Cape Town beaches. Speaking of… This pool has a jaw-dropping view of the sunrise if you can get here early enough. Trust me, you won’t want to leave your camera behind if you can catch these views.

If you’re lucky enough to visit between June and December (which, unfortunately, I wasn’t), then be sure to bring your binoculars as well. During this time, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for whales. I’ve heard that they tend to pop up close enough to see them jumping in and out of the water without binoculars, but you don’t want to miss this special opportunity if they’re just out of view.

Pro tip: There are some great amenities here, including an outdoor shower and changing rooms. But if you want to keep your gear safe while you’re in the water, you can always use the lockers at the Dalebrook Cafe. There’s also limited shade here, so try to pack an umbrella if you can.


When is the best time to visit tidal pools in and around Cape Town?

One of the best times to head to any of the beaches in Cape Town is in the summer. It’s warm and inviting, and the atmosphere of the locals enjoying the sunshine in the Mother City is nothing like you’ll ever experience anywhere else.

However, you may want to head to the pools as early as you can, since they can get pretty busy towards midday and during the afternoon hours. Otherwise, you may need to wait for a gap to hit the cool waters (but I warn you – it may take a while!).

Should I take anything with me when I’m exploring the tidal pools?

When you’re visiting the tidal pools in Cape Town, you’ll want to grab a waterproof bag and make sure to stock it up with your beach essentials. But besides a towel and your bathing suit, there are a couple of other things you should always keep with you.

Since the temperatures can easily reach 40 °C in the summer, it’s important to bring sunscreen along with you – and plenty of water! You may also want to take some sunglasses and a hat to shield yourself from the scorching sun.

Are there any safety precautions I should take?

Exploring a tidal pool can be a lot of fun, but like anything else in life, you always want to be safe rather than sorry! This is especially true if you’re heading on an adventure with young children.

One of the most important things you’ll need to keep yourself safe is a good pair of waterproof shoes. The rocks around the pools can be slippery, so having some traction is a good idea. Additionally, you don’t want to accidentally step on any jagged rocks or barnacles. Plus, there may be spikey sea creatures that are hiding in the shallow water, and they can feel pretty nasty on your bare feet.

Having a first aid kit on you can also come in handy – just to be on the safer side. Be sure to keep any kiddos close to you, and make sure they aren’t poking or prodding at any sea creatures in the pools. They’re not all friendly.

Final Thoughts

By now, I hope I’ve enticed you to go on a beachy adventure and check out some of these pools for yourself. From the charm of St. James to the busy beachfront at Camps Bay, you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices on my list. Cape Town is always waiting to be explored, and I hope you’ll join me as I find out more about what hidden treasures the Mother City has to offer.

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