Capetonians might like tourists to believe that beach season shuts down come June, but – thanks to warm winter winds and a few extra layers – the Mother City remains the last word in urban sand seeking through its winter months (June – September in the Southern Hemisphere). The only hazard of visiting Cape Town off season might be getting used to low prices and lonely breaks.
Muizenberg, blessed by winds out of the northwest, is literally and figuratively the city's hottest hibernal haunt. Offshore swells – announced by local wave-riding disc jockeys like Deon Bing – sweep up and break both right and left as the beach fills with spectators and swimmers. Closer to the city, a rad break off Clifton 2nd Beach brings the locals in at high tide. And along Cape Town's west coast, great waves arrive regularly at Table View, Dolphin Beach, and Blouberg, which are all served by Cape Town's new MyCiTi bus service (boards are welcome along for the ride).
For an old-school Capetonian day trip, catch Cape Town's Metrorail and head for the city's knockout False Bay, a vibey vintage town, where colonial antique stores stand alongside boho boutiques and hippy cafés. En route, hop off for a sheltered swim in the tidal pools at St. James beach, grab an ice-cold Castle Lager at Brass Bell in Kalk Bay – the bar sits right on the tracks – or snap a group photo with the braying Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach.
Fancy a foodie day at the beach? Stock up on picnic provisions, including delectable ostrich steaks, at V & A Market on the Wharf before hitting Oudekraal Beach on the rugged Atlantic Seaboard. Secretly tucked between Camps Bay and LLandundo, the tiny cove has its own braai, or barbecue, facilities and sits just across from the Twelve Apostles Hotel – the ultimate location for Cape Town sundowners. Don't forget a blanket to offset that winter nip and some extra ales for the locals who will want to share their grilling expertise.
Finally, for a real winter paradise, make a break for West Coast National Park 70 miles north of the city. Consider the warm waters of Langebaan Lagoon the spot for your winter dip. Springbok chow on scrub in the surrounding bush as visitors float happily in the azure water. If you don't want to leave this idyllic bay, don't. Book a roomy houseboat as your floating pad.
More information: Wavescape is your go-to for an insider's guide to South African surf conditions and beach slang. It is worth noting that the weak rand makes Cape Town a great place to splurge. Try out Icon Villas' plush coastal properties.