Area guide to Clifton

Private Property South Africa
Kit Heathcock

Clifton is home to some of South Africa’s most desirable real estate with lavish homes and apartments, but the magnificent ocean views and beautiful beaches remain the focus.

About the area

Clifton started life as a summer seaside escape for Capetonians, with simple bungalows clustered on the shore above its sheltered sandy beaches. Today, it is home to some of South Africa’s most desirable real estate and those once-simple bungalows have been transformed into lavish homes and apartments, but the magnificent ocean views and beautiful beaches remain the focus. The area’s four sandy coves are the playgrounds of chic locals and international visitors all summer, each with its own character, from sporty first beach to family friendly Blue Flag fourth beach.

Quaint pedestrian passages connect the beaches with Victoria Road above, twisting steeply between the houses so that residents have no need for a gym for their step exercise. Many houses and apartment buildings have private underground parking, but parking can be an issue for those without, especially in summer, when the beaches attract visitors from afar. Even summer crowds don’t detract from the joys of beach living, as one resident commented, “Living right on the water, I love the feeling of not being hemmed in, there’s nothing to obstruct my view of magnificent sunsets and the ever-changing ocean. I have privacy, yet also the comfort of human presence in close proximity.” To get away from it all, the most private villas are at the top on Nettleton Road, where the longer climb down to the beach is more than made up for by grandstand views over the ocean, swimming pools and spacious villas.

Clifton is purely residential, the only restaurant is The Bungalow at Glen Country Club, where there are also tennis courts and a bowls club. Residents head to Camps Bay for more eateries and nightlife, or to the V&A Waterfront, Green Point and Sea Point in the other direction, for an endless choice of upmarket shopping, sports facilities and entertainment.

I love the opportunity to experience the cycles of nature so closely, from sunrise to sunset, the tides, the moon’s phases, the seasons. Every day presents a new gift from nature and a walk on the beach always holds a surprise. Living in such a public place keeps me connected to life in South Africa with a broad perspective.

Clifton resident

Best in food:

  • The Bungalow: for chic Clifton sundowners and seafood
  • La Perla in Sea Point: a long-standing institution for sundowners
  • Mezepoli Meze and Wine Bar in Camps Bay: for tapas on the beachfront
  • Codfather in Camps Bay: for the freshest seafood
  • Paranga in Camps Bay: for sushi and great views

Things to do:

  • Take scenic walks around the mountain
  • Go to the beach all day, every day
  • Play tennis at Clifton Tennis Club or Glen Country Cub
  • Visit Maidens Cove picnic area and sea pool
  • Go paragliding from Lion’s Head for a bird’s-eye view

Transport plus:

  • Five minutes to Camp’s Bay
  • 15 minutes to the V&A Waterfront and CBD
  • The MyCiTi bus connects Clifton to Hout bay, Camps Bay and the CBD

This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

Take a spectacular journey through the Atlantic Seaboard here:

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