At the northwest tip of South Africa's Cape Peninsula lies the swanky coastal gem Clifton Beach, a haven for international hipsters and jet-setters. Clifton is actually a series of four beaches, each separated by a stretch of granite boulders. The beach is sprawling and clean, reflecting the brilliant African sunshine off white sand and throngs of tanned bodies. A distinct vibe is felt at Clifton, owing in part to the mystique of Table Mountain, which looms gorgeously in the beach's background, and in part to the glamorous pulse of the surrounding neighborhood.
While each of Clifton's beaches shine in their own right, it's Fourth Beach that really swings with sexy scenesters, for at Clifton, where Atlantic Ocean temperatures hover around frigid, you're there to see and be seen - not swim. In a sea of Armani bikinis and Prada sunglasses, lithe sunbathers can be found languidly tossing Frisbees or watching the passing yachts from their rented chairs.
For a change of scene, stroll to a nearby cafe or ogle the beautiful people at the restaurant La Med, which overlooks the beach and whose lawn is a popular landing spot for area paragliders. The elegance of the area is perpetuated in nearby Cape Town, just minutes away. Both areas are filled with eclectic eateries, sparkling nightlife and rich culture.
Nearest Major International Airport Cape Town International Airport is approximately 12 miles from the city center, about a 20-minute drive. The national carrier of South Africa is South African Airways.
Shuttle services are available via Legend Tours, Transfers Dumalisile, Way-2-Go Tours, City Hopper and Magic Bus. Taxi service is available (Touch Down Taxi is the only airport-authorized taxi company) for about R140 into the city center. Numerous car rental companies (including Avis, Budget and Hertz) operate out of the international and domestic terminals.
Peak tourist season occurs from November through March, when crowds and prices increase. Consider planning a trip in October or April, when weather is good and crowds are minimal. Remember, seasons are reversed: Summer is September to April, and winter is May to August. Average temperatures: December-February, 59-81 F; March-April, 54-77 F; May-September, 45-68 F; October-November, 52-75 F.
Visitors to Clifton will find most affordable lodgings in Cape Town, where accommodations are plentiful and meet the needs of various budgets. A great variety of lodging types exist, including hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, backpacker hostels and self-catering apartments. The excess of accommodations has helped keep prices quite reasonable, though staying near ritzy Clifton usually means higher costs. Helpful Web sites:
An extraordinary food and drink culture exists in the region and includes everything from native cuisine to international delights like Japanese and Thai. For a traditional meal, indulge in Cape cuisine, which blends Malay, Dutch and other influences. Local favorites include the spicy bredies, or stews, and the delicious bobotie, a spiced beef or lamb dish. The adventurous must indulge in a braai: an outdoor barbecue of boerewors (sausages).
South Africa is home to 11 official languages, but English is widely spoken with influence from Afrikaans (South African Dutch). Do not exchange money at your hotel; rates are higher than in banks or change bureaus. To deter thieves and pickpockets, do not walk alone at night, avoid wearing fancy jewelry and consider wearing a money belt.
After arriving, visit Cape Town Tourism, the official tourist information office, featuring an Internet cafe and reservation services. Address: The Pinnacle Building, Burg and Castle Streets.
While you are there
Don't miss a chance to take the requisite cable car ride up Table Mountain, 3,563 feet above sea level, your best bet for soaking up the sprawling vistas of the Cape Peninsula's unforgettable landscape.
To fake that you've been there
Reminisce about the time you went "Kloofing" (cliff climbing and diving) in Kamikaze Kanyon.
Linking for a better vacation
Oodles of accommodation, activities, dining and entertainment information can be found at Cape Town Tourism, as well as Go Cape Town. Tour operator information, winery information and news are among the helpful links found at www.capetownwebcam.com.