Cape Town’s safe tidal bathing pools

2 Aug 2012 by Horizon Cottages, Comments
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Visitors to Cape Town in the summer, traveling with their families, like to take the children to beaches where there is safe bathing. Around the False Bay coast of Cape Town, which has warmer waters than that of the Atlantic, there are a number of tidal pools enclosed by stone walls,  but refreshed by the ocean,  which offer protected and safe bathing for children. Most of these are well maintained by the city as part of its drive to improve Cape Town tourism. Here is information about these pools; all of which are within a short drive from our self-catering accommodation.

St James Pool: This much photographed tidal pool and beach with its brightly coloured Victorian era bathing boxes is one of the most popular in Cape Town. It is a large pool, but for most of its length it is quite shallow making it ideal for small ones to enjoy running and splashing in the sea. The pool is surrounded by a relatively low wall, which keeps the water refreshed, but keeps children safe from the waves and there is no danger from shark!  Next to the pool are plenty of rocks with little tidal pools to explore, full of marine treasures which will keep the kids

Famous bathing huts

Famous bathing huts

occupied for hours when not swimming. There is a nice wide sand beach too for the adults and for sunbathing, but St James is very popular on weekends and holidays so it would be best to arrive early if you want to spend the day here. There are toilets, showers and changing rooms at the beach, which is approached by a beautifully maintained subway from the main road just before St James station. Now that the upgrade of the main road has been completed up to Kalk Bay, there is plenty of hassle free parking.

A pleasant diversion for all of the family could be the walkway along the shore between St James and the beach at Muizenberg  offering an enjoyable  meander where one can admire not only the ocean but a range of beautiful , historic buildings facing the sea along what is known as millionaires’ mile.

Dalebrook Pool : is a little further on the main road before one gets to Kalk Bay, and is not as well-known to visitors from outside of Cape Town. This is a really nice pool for the little ones as it is expansive,  but generally quite shallow,  with a bottom that is more flat rock than sand. Dalebrook pool is also surrounded by a stone wall, low enough for the waves to break over the end and keep the pool clean. If taking the children, be sure to let them take their goggles and snorkels because there are plenty of little fish and marine plants in the tidal pool that will keep them amazed. Unfortunately there is not much of the beach at this pool and parents will have to sit on the rocks or the concrete benches provided. Access to the beach is through a well maintained subway under the railway line from the Main road, opposite Dalebrook Road, and there is usually parking available except at the busiest of times. Toilets, a shower and changing room are available, and it is close enough to Kalk Bay should you need to purchase refreshments or snacks.

 Woolley Pool is something of a hidden gem, as it is not easily spotted from the road. Access is from the main road through a subway under the railway line just before Clovelly, on the way to Fish Hoek. It is quite a small pool; making it ideal for children and there is a small grassed area for relaxing or picnicking, with spectacular views across the bay to Simonstown. Unfortunately the promenade where one could previously park has been closed off pending the reconstruction as part of the main road upgrading which is due to be completed before the end of 2013. One could park lower down in the main road or at the fishing harbour in Kalk Bay and walk to the pool in about 10 minutes.

Glencairn Pool: Glencairn beach  is a lovely white sandy beach, lying  between the popular family beaches of Fish Hoek and Simonstown,  that somehow seems not to have been discovered by the masses,even in season,  and here too is a large walled tidal pool with safe swimming and

plenty of lawn area. The tidal pool is found a little further up from the beach on the main road.  Although one can approach the pool from the beach; there is parking on the main road between the beach and the station and access gained via a subway to the tidal pool. This beach and tidal pool may be reached within 5 minutes via Black Hill Road coming from our affordable Noordhoek holiday accommodation. Glencairn tidal pool





Miller’s Point has a caravan park, boat launching site and a magnificent tidal pool, situated on the road between Simonstown and Cape Point. It is less popular and not as well-known as many of the other pools, probably because of the distance that one has to travel, but it has a really great tidal pool for children, surrounded by expansive green lawns on which the adults can relax, and a large number of braai (bbq) pits. There are changing cubicles and well maintained toilets, although the whole area shows signs of inadequate maintenance. Miller’s Point has been identified by the Cape Town City Council for redevelopment and                                               Milers Point tidal pool

improvement and consultation is currently taking place with stakeholders,  so one can expect future improvements. Although there is not much of a beach here, there are quite a number of small sandy coves where you could enjoy a private family picnic. GPS coordinates : S25.74446 E028.21735


Boulders Beach at Simonstown is not actually a tidal pool, but it is a beautifully sheltered little beach with shallow waters , gently sloping sands, surrounded by massive boulders which enclose and protect the beach from wind, waves and even predators. Children will enjoy bathing here because it is located in the sanctuary for the African Penguins who share the beach and the water with the bathers. Most of the Cape Town beaches are free to enter, but the entry fee payable at Boulders  contributes to the cost of running the Penguin sanctuary and information centre, and keeps the numbers down. It is not only a great spot for the kids to bathe in safety, but they will have hours of fun climbing the boulders as well as ducking beneath them to get to the coves on the other side. It is a very popular beach and crowded at weekends and holidays, so it is best to arrive early as numbers are limited in order to preserve the peace of the penguins


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