Camps Bay is an affluent seaside suburb and popular international holiday destination close to the centre of Cape Town, situated on the west face of Table Mountain, surrounded by a vast nature reserve and overlooking the blue Atlantic Ocean.
The glorious long white sandy beach, crystalline water and lovely seaside strip make it a favourite destination for locals and tourists alike. Visitors coming over the mountain looking over Camps Bay, gasp in amazement at the scenic beauty.
The staggering beauty of the mountains and sea is astonishing. Down to the westside is the broad sweep of the wide pure white beach and vast view over the Atlantic Ocean, overlooked by the soaring grandeur of the Twelve Apostles mountains.
The boulevard is lined with palm trees along the beach, pavement cafes, bistros and glamorous restaurants on the village side. The affluent suburb is built into the slopes of the mountain, in the midst of thousands of acres of protected Nature Reserve, the Cape Floral Kingdom World Heritage Site.
It is not surprising that international tourists come back again year after year. It is a favourite destination for movie and rock stars, models and the rich and famous.
Things to Do
The number one attraction in Camps Bay is the magnificent Beach. The Beach has International Blue Flag status and there are lifeguards in summer. It is extremely wide with pristine fine white sand, providing lots of space for many people lounging about on deck chairs under umbrellas, as well as being suitable for volleyball tournaments and various watersports.
A mobile Surf School conducts lessons on the beach, giving 2 hour lessons and providing the wet suits and equipment. The Sea Rescue Base is on the main beach.
There are several smaller beaches as well. Glen beach is tiny, in a gorgeous setting hidden behind huge boulders. It is a favourite beach for surfers. Paragliders leaping off Lion’s Head land on the lawn in front of the Glen Country Club. There is also Maiden’s Cove, a popular beach for families.
There is a Tidal pool, at the southern end of the beach, which is safe for children. Bakoven beach has sheltered coves and two beautiful little beaches.
Further on is Oudekraal, another lovely beach. Many years ago there was an old settlement of Khoi San people there, the original people living in the Cape. At Koeel Bay there is an open air Curio Market selling handmade crafts from all over Africa.
There are several Hiking trails up Table Mountain and Lion's Head with incredible views, for the athletically inclined. The Pipe track is not too strenuous.
Camps Bay is mainly a sophisticated tourist destination, with many restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels facing the beach. It is a wonderful place for a drink or lunch enjoying the view. The sunsets are magnificent. It is busy in the evenings, with visitors and locals having a merry time. Dizzy's Jazz Cafe has live music on most evenings. Le Roi is one of the current popular nightclubs.
The small village has boutiques, a supermarket, various useful shops and churches. There is also the Theatre on the Bay for plays.
Sports Clubs have bowls, cricket, soccer, squash and tennis.
There are Health Spas in the village, also at the Bay and Twelve Apostle Hotels, and the Lavender, for excellent Chinese massages.
The Table Mountain Cable Car is minutes away up Camps bay Drive for an excursion to see the view from the top of Table Mountain, an unforgettable experience. Although Camps Bay is surrounded by a gigantic Nature Reserve, the city centre is conveniently only a short drive away to the other side of the mountain.
The 15 kilometer Scenic Drive along the coast towards Hout Bay has wonderful views of the exquisite beauty of the mountain and nature reserve landscapes, and the scintillating translucent ocean.
Boats, Yachts and Helicopters can be charted to explore the area.
Where to Eat
There are many superb restaurants, sidewalk cafes and beach bars in Camps bay of a high standard. Along the strip one of the best is Parangas, sophisticated and elegant, with international food and sushi.
A local favourite, and fashionable restaurant is the Grand Cafe with an excellent bistro type cuisine.
Zenzero does fantastic Italian food, and is the perfect place for couples to indulge in delicious comfort food while enjoying the intimate atmosphere.
The Mynt Cafe and Cafe Caprice are casual, trendy and comfortable and are the ideal place to relax and enjoy cocktails and light meals. In the late evening Cafe Caprice turns into a popular night club where the young go to dance away the nights.
Umi have refined Japanese food and sushi and particularly good views. It has also recently opened a health section with fresh smoothies and salads.
For fantastic views and relaxed dining with a great vibe drop into Mezepoli and enjoy the Mediterranean-style food and tapas.
If you're in search of something with a spicy kick make sure you visit Raj's for some of the best Indian curries in Cape Town.
The Codfather in the village offers delicious seafood platter and a selection of sushi options in a comfortable setting with a relaxing atmosphere, suitable for families.
For a quick, yet simply sumptuous dessert or treat pay a visit to Sinnful Ice Cream Parlour. They offer a huge variety of flavours, including traditional favourites as well as many gourmet options.
The Roundhouse, further up the mountain, offers Cape provencale food, and fine dining. With a stunning outdoor setting in the glen amongst the trees, and a view overlooking the ocean, this unique restaurant is a pleasure to visit.
The Twelve Apostles Hotel is another beautiful venue a few kilometers beyond the main village. Set quite alone in the nature reserve, with amazing surroundings and indigenous fynbos gardens, and panoramic views of the ocean, this five star hotel has three restaurants. There is the Azure restaurant, with French and South African food, and the Leopard terrace, from where one can watch whales in the season.
Where to Stay
Various types of accommodation are available, hotels, mansions, villas, penthouses, serviced apartments, self catering holiday homes, cottages and guest houses.
For pure luxury (and the price tag to match) choose to stay at one of the luxury 5 star hotels that are speckled along the mountain and frequented by international tourists who expect the best of everything.
For self-catering on a whole new level opt to stay in one of the many opulent apartments and penthouses in the area. Many of these near the beach, and a short walk from the restaurants on the strip. These prestigious properties are modern, elegant and spacious.
The roads zigzag up the mountain in the residential area, where there are a multitude of guest houses offering great accommodation with splendid views, and most have swimming pools.
There are also a number of delightful self-catering establishments and cottages to be found near the beach or tucked away in the mountain, at excellent prices.
There are several beautiful routes you can take to access to Camps Bay. Most famous is the stunning mountainous Chapman's Peak Drive, which takes you from Noordhoek, through Houtbay and down into Camps Bay. For a quick, yet pretty drive, Victoria Road is often the route taken from the CBD. For spectacular mountain and sea views take the Kloof Nek pass which can be reached from either CBD or Constantia.
Air: The nearest airport to Camps Bay is Cape Town International. It is a quick 20kms away via the most direct route.
Car Rental: For those who wish to explore the glorious landscape around the Cape, the easiest solution is to hire a car at the airport or in the CBD. For the more adventurous you can also opt to hire motorcycles and scooters.
Taxis: There is a multitude of taxis cruising about and waiting on the main Victoria Road, and are ideal for short trips around the area. However, they can be quite pricey when used for longer trips.
Bus: The MyCiTi bus service is frequent, reliable and efficient. It winds all around Camps Bay to the city centre. There is also a red open roof double decker City Sightseeing Hop on- Hop off bus which takes scenic routes around the town.
Did You Know
Camps bay was once home to leopards and lions a couple of hundred years ago when the Dutch settlers arrived.
In 1807 the Round House, a National Monument and up market restaurant now, was built as a hunting lodge for Lord Charles Somerset, Governor of the Cape.
The narrow road along the sea round the mountain from Seapoint was built by prisoners in 1888, providing access from Seapoint to Camps Bay.
There was a farm here, in 1778, owned by Fredrick Von Camptz, hence the name - Camps Bay, sometimes misspelt Camp’s bay, Campz bay or Camp Bai.
International movie crews come to Camps bay all the time, filming commercials and movies. Residents frequently recognise their beaches being used to advertise holidays, for example, in the South of France.
Originally Camps Bay was considered recreational rather than residential. A few holiday homes started appearing along the beachfront after 1913.
In the 1940’s more beach bungalows started to develop, but it was still considered a place just for holiday houses.
Camps Bay then developed into a close community of residents. Luckily they managed to prevent any further buildings over three stories, which prevented spoiling the beauty of the gorgeous seafront. It is now a suburb with many palatial mansions and architectural masterpiece houses stretching up the mountains into the Nature Reserve.