About St James Beach
St James Beach is located on Cape Town’s False Bay coastline between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. It’s a very popular beach particularly with families due to the soft sand, protection from the westerly winds and the safe swimming it provides.
St James Beach is a relatively small and narrow beach running parallel to St James’ Main Road and squeezed between the Simon’s Town Railway Line and the Atlantic Ocean. It is accessible from Main Road via a tunnel (subway) running under the railway line and can get very busy in the summer months due to the limited space.
Parking is available along Main Road, in the surrounding side roads and at various parking area, but it can be scarce during the busier times (i.e. in peak holiday season or on weekends when there is suitable weather).
Although one can make use of the Simon’s Town Railway Line to get to St James Beach, using the St James Station to disembark or board the train, this service is unreliable due to technical issues, rioting along the route, vandalism, crime and general availability. If you don’t have your own vehicle you are better off making use of the many Taxi or Bus Services to get to St James.
While St James Beach is probably most well known for the colourful huts (bathing boxes) situated along its periphery its popularity stems from the safe swimming provided by the Tidal Pool and the fact that the waters in False Bay are somewhat warmer than the other side of the Cape Peninsula.
Swimming in the open-water is relatively safe, but it is recommended to only do so when Life Guards are on duty. There are lots of rock outcrops surrounding St James Beach, so exploring the rocks & rock-pools is also popular. Anglers also make use of these rocky outcrops to get further reach to get their catch of the day.
Surfers can enjoy a decent break off the tidal pool wall, which I believe is known as “Off the Wall False Bay”; not to be confused with a similarly named surf spot “Off the Wall, in Mouille Point”.
If ‘beaching‘ isn’t your thing, you can enjoy a long walk/run along the Muizenberg Catwalk (pathway) which runs along the coastline, officially from Muizenberg Beach in the north, to St James Beach to the south; a distance of approximately 3km. Venturing further south the walkway takes you to Danger Beach.
NOTE: It is advisable to walk/run in groups along the Muizenberg Catwalk as this walkway can be a hotspot for crime when its quite out. Another safer alternative offering a much longer distance is the busier walkway/pavement that runs along Main Road.
- Tidal Pool
- Bathing Boxes
- Nearby Shops
- Street Parking (limited)
- Safe Swimming
- Fishing (permits required)
Historically St James Beach got it’s name from a Catholic Church, named ‘St James‘ that was built in the area on the piece of ground that is now the St James Station. The Church was later re-built on the opposite side of Main Road approximately 130-meters further down the road. Today the church is a prominent historical landmark that continues to serve the Catholic community.
The popular tidal pool of St James Beach was originally a KhoiSan fishing trap made up of boulders stacked to trap fish that made their way into the trap via the high-tide, only to be trapped when the tide withdrew (low-tide). The trap being turned into a Tidal Pool to provide safer swimming, which in turn saw the development of the bathing boxes.
These colourful bathing boxes were then hired out by the City Council as on-location changing rooms and storage facilities to the upper-class communities, who also used them as protection from the wind.
The official Cape Town Beach Guide states that St James Beach is protected from the infamous Cape South Easter Wind, however, this isn’t the case due to it’s geographical location. This beach is protected from the Westerly winds by the mountains and landmass behind the beach, but it is fully exposed to the South Easter Winds. The Westerly winds are more prominent in the winter months, with the South Easter making itself known in the summer, beach going, months.
The best times to visit St James Beach or any of the beaches along the western False Bay coastline is in the morning as the South Easter usually sleeps late and starts blowing from early-mid afternoon, making afternoon beach visits unpleasant.