Clifton is Calling

Clifton, largely regarded as Cape Town’s most photogenic suburb, is home to some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa. Its homesteads, nestled cosily against cliffs, have extraordinary views of the Atlantic Ocean, and meandering footpaths take its lucky inhabitants directly down to some of the best beaches on the planet. With its ice-white sands and turquoise waters, Clifton’s beaches one through four are where Cape Town’s jet set and plentiful tourists head for the long months of summer. Capetonians weren’t vaguely surprised when, for two years running, Discovery Travel Channel rated Clifton one of the world’s Top Ten Beaches. Cool Clifton also came in at number eight for Forbes’ Top Ten Topless Beaches in the world. Certainly, bikini tops are optional with all-over tans being de rigeur.

But Clifton is not just for tourists and posers: every evening in summer sees locals heading down the steps to picnic, enjoy the sunset, play volleyball and take a dip to cool off after work. These are much-used, much-loved beaches. Every Sunday morning families and friends gather to hang out, chat and enjoy a cup of coffee while the Lifesaving club trains its young ‘Nippers’ to be lifesavers. While the Atlantic Seaboard is incredibly pretty, its waves and currents can be rough. If you’re going to venture out beyond the breakers, you must be a strong swimmer. An extra summer bonus is the fact that on the last Thursday of every month Sea Point local, Arthur Everest, organises live music on Clifton 2nd. For a tiny donation, bands will set up their instruments in the sand and entertain picnickers. Reclining on the soft sand listening to good music with the gentle sound of the surf and a slow moon rising is one of those magical Cape Town moments where you can’t believe your own good fortune.

Clifton was originally called Skoenmaker’s Gat (Cobblers Cave) after a shoe-making ship deserter who hid and lived in a cave above second beach. In 1794 a Portuguese slave ship, São José Paquete Africa, carrying 400 slaves, ran aground. 200 drowned, and the surviving 200 were sold the following day in town. Passing farmers, on their way to the market, would stop to have their shoes repaired. Because the name was hardly becoming of such a pretty milieu, it was changed in the late 1900s to Clifton-on-Sea, named after one Bessie Clifton who owned the only hotel in the area. Later, the ‘on Sea’ got dropped, and Clifton became known as the beach of the glamourous and well-heeled.

At the end of the First World War, Cape Town experienced a housing shortage for soldiers returning home. The British Admiralty owned the land in Clifton, and they gave the soldiers permission to erect bungalows along the coast. Many of them were built out of packing cases used to transport cars. While today these homes look nothing like packing cases, the name ‘bungalows’ stuck. In 1923 Clifton was donated to the City of Cape Town, and the area was developed, attracting holidaymakers. Initially, in order to discourage permanent residence, anyone renting a bungalow was obliged to vacate the premises between June and August. Happily, this is no longer the case and these ‘bungalows’ (read: luxury homes) are some of the most sought-after properties in the city.

Situated in the ‘wind shadow’ of Lion’s Head, the Clifton beaches have the added bonus of enjoying protection from the south-easter. As if you needed another reason to head over there right now. If you forgot drinks, friendly guys with cooler boxes are more than happy to sell you cold water, coke zero or a ‘granadilla lolly to make you jolly.’ And you will feel jolly, no question.

Lance Real Estate is based in Fresnaye, Cape Town and covers the Atlantic Seaboard from the Waterfront to Camps Bay. With over 23 years’ experience in the most sought-after residential areas in Africa, Lance Real Estate has sold over R 1 billion worth of properties in the last 3 years.

It is this hands-on knowledge that sets Lance Real Estate apart from our competition. We have built an extensive database of buyers and sellers over the last 2 decades who have grown to trust our market knowledge and depend on us to negotiate the best possible deal in any property negotiation.

We are now extending our reach and taking on houses and apartments for sale from the Waterfront through to Llandudno.
If you are looking for a remarkable agency to buy, rent or sell your property on the Atlantic Seaboard, our friendly customer care team is a phone call away.

We also have a range of holiday rentals to offer. If you appreciate beautiful African sunsets over the sea and sublime mountain views, then visit our holiday rentals section on our website.


Tel: +27 82 416 6103

Credits: DHL Clifton Surf Lifesaving Club – CSLC, Graeme Sonnenbug