Five of the best tidal pools in Cape Town

Five of the best tidal pools in Cape Town

As any Capetonian worth their salt will tell you, Cape Town, or the Mother City as locals call it, is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world for holiday goers seeking adventure outdoors. Cape Town is also fortunate to be host to a fantastic array of 20 unique tidal pools dotted along the Atlantic Ocean (West) and False Bay (East) coastline.

As any Capetonian worth their salt will tell you, Cape Town, or the Mother City as locals call it, is one of the most beautiful destinations in the world for holiday goers seeking adventure outdoors.

Within just a few minutes’ drive visitors and locals alike can access some of the most spectacular vistas nature has to offer from vibrant fynbos on Table Mountain all the way to Clifton’s pristine white beaches.

Cape Town is also fortunate to be host to a fantastic array of 20 unique tidal pools dotted along the Atlantic Ocean (West) and False Bay (East) coastline.

The tidal pools offer a refuge for swimmers that want to escape the wild waves of the Atlantic as well as its notorious gusty south easter winds.

Here on summer days locals gather for a cool refreshing dip and are the perfect spot for families to grab a snorkel and mask to swim alongside small schools of fish, plenty of anemones, nudibranchs and starfish hanging about on its walls.

Even in winter, when the weather is cooler, you can find a host of swim-risers, that take morning dips before work. In fact, winter is one of the best seasons to check out the marine life, as the pools are less disturbed allowing small ecosystems to thrive. 

What makes Cape Town’s pools even more unique is that many of them are environmentally managed and by the end of 2020, all tidal pools managed by the City of Cape Town will be cleaned using eco-friendly methods – primarily high-pressure hoses and chalk paint, Business Insider South Africa reports.

This follows a project spearheaded by local free diver Lisa Beasley, the founder of Cape Town Tidal Pools, who has been experimenting with eco-friendly cleaning methods at the Dalebrook, St James, Kalk Bay and Woolley’s tidal pools since 2016.

So, whilst you contemplate sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the fresh salty ocean breezes and sounds of squawking seagulls, here are some tidal pools we recommend you check out:

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St James - Jay Caboz

Dalebrook, Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Dalebrook can be found in Kalk Bay and is accessible by public parking off Main Road on the False Bay side of Cap Town. This was one of the first tidal pools in Cape Town to be cleaned using environmentally friendly methods.

It is ideally located to protect swimmers from the Cape’s notorious gusty ‘south easter’ making it a popular bathing spot for locals in the area. It also features benches and a small beach for picnics, with plenty of rock pools to explore.

Because it is East facing, it is the perfect spot to grab a cup of coffee and watch the sun come up over the Atlantic.

St James, Main Road, St James

Like Dalebrook, St James is also cleaned using environmentally friendly methods. The pool is one of the larger pools in the Kalk Bay area and a popular spot for swimmers throughout the day. It is a well-known photographer hotspot thanks to its colourful beach houses.

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Wooleys Tidal Pool - Jay Caboz

Wooley’s, Kalk Bay

Wooley’s offers a clear view across to Fish Hoek and is one of the lesser known tidal pools in Cape Town, partly because it is hard to spot from the road.

The pool is divided into two parts – a small splash pool for children and a deeper dipping pool for adults.

Miller’s Point tidal pool

Planning a trip to Miller’s Point tidal pool can be quite tricky, especially since it’s an hour drive out of Cape Town. It’s also not as sheltered as some of the other tidal pools located along the False Bay side of Cape Town. I recommend checking the weather carefully before making your way out here.

That being said, the tidal pool is picturesque and shaped like a heart, and even has a slide for kids. It is well worth making a day trip out to see it and visiting Cape Point as the same time. Because it is so remote, bringing along a mask and snorkel are a must as you’ll be surprised to see how many creatures make it a home.

Maidens Cove, Camps Bay

Maidens Cove has two tidal pools hidden between enormous granite boulders. It’s nestled under the shadow of Lions Head, on the Camps Bay side of the city which faces West.

It’s a popular spot for sundowners with many people driving here just to watch blazing sunsets as the sun dips behind the Atlantic.

Maidens Cove has a special history as it was one the few beaches where non-white residents of Cape Town could come and enjoy a day at the sea in a whites-only area before 1994, according to Cape Town tidal pools.

There are many more tidal pools to visit inside the Western Cape.

Here is the full list of tidal pools dotted across the Western Cape:

Camps Bay Tidal Pool - Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Dalebrook Tidal Pool - Off Main Road, Dalebrook

Glencairn Tidal Pool - Glencairn Beach, Glencairn

Graaff Tidal Pool - Sea Point Beach Front, Beach Road, Sea Point

Harmony Park Tidal Pool - Jan Bruin Street, Strand

Kalk Bay 1 Tidal Pool - Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay 2 Tidal Pool - Off Main Road, Kalk Bay

Maiden's Cove 1 Tidal Pool - Off Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Maiden's Cove 2 Tidal Pool - Off Victoria Road, Camps Bay

Milton Tidal Pool - Off Beach Road, Sea Point

Monwabisi Tidal Pool - Off Baden Powell Drive, Khayelitsha

Saunders' Rock Tidal Pool - Sea Point Promenade, Beach Road, Sea Point

Shelley Point Tidal Pool - M6, Glencairn

Silwerstroom Tidal Pool - Silwerstroom Resort, off Westcoast Road, Silwerstroom

Soetwater 1 Tidal Pool - Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

Soetwater 2 Tidal Pool- Lighthouse Road, Kommetjie

Sparks Tidal Pool - Clarence Drive, R44, Gordon’s Bay

St James Tidal Pool - Main Road, St James

Strand Tidal Pool - Beach Road, Strand

Wooley's Tidal Pool - Off Main Road, Glencairn, Kalk Bay

Images by Jay Caboz - Available here

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