If we told you that Waterfront Charters had regular expeditions to Skoenmaker’s Gat, you’d probably not add that destination to your bucket list. Until we added that the most expensive real estate in Africa surrounded Skoenmaker’s Gat, and that it was rated one of the best topless beaches on the planet. The penny might drop: these days we know the idyllic venue as Clifton Beach. Originally named for a cobbler who jumped ship and lived in a cave – the ‘gat ’in question, just in case you thought it referred to a part of his anatomy - Clifton Beach has a few skeletons (literally) in the closet. A slaver ship ran ashore there in 1794, and 200 slaves lost their lives in the chilly breakers. The survivors had little better luck: they were sold the following day. Empathy was in short supply in the 18th century, it seems.
Clifton the suburb and Clifton the beach have come a long way since then. Shortly after World War Two, returning servicemen were offered plots on the slopes above the four iconic beaches, which must have made their wartime sacrifices feel quite worthwhile. They built cottages from packing cases, and for many years these colourful bungalows made up the bulk of the housing. But the scenery and setting could not allow the status quo to remain, and before long Clifton exploded in a property boom that has not taken breath in the last thirty-five years. The old packing case houses were steadily replaced with a range of houses that now command prices way west of seven figures.
But for all who know Cape Town, Clifton Beach remains a magnet for those who have experienced the beauty of the setting. Four scalloped beaches are covered with snow-white granitic sand, each beach separated from the next by sea-smoothed granite boulders. Behind the ‘beach houses’, mansions and looming blocks of luxury apartments lies the Twelve Apostle mountain range, a seemingly vertical set of cliffs that add a remarkable element of wilderness to the scene; the Peninsula is, after all, a large mountain reserve surrounded by suburbs, and Mother Nature is never far away.
Clifton Beach is full to the brim, and yet…just offshore, floating serenely at anchor is the luxury Waterfront Charters catamaran, Serenity One.
And it goes without saying that Waterfront Charters visit there regularly - picture the scene: a hot summer’s afternoon, the beaches are packed with oiled sunseekers, falling over each other’s towels and bumping into umbrella poles. Behind the beaches, the main road is clogged with traffic: after all, Clifton is sheltered from the seasonal southeaster, so that’s the place to go. Oh, and did we mention the topless part…? Parking? Don’t make us laugh. Clifton Beach is full to the brim, and yet…just offshore, floating serenely at anchor is the luxury catamaran Serenity One. Aboard her are a group of extremely happy partygoers, all sipping ice cold drinks. A top DJ is laying down some cool sounds, and the view from the decks is just indescribable: green mountain, golden rocks, white sand, azure sea. Some guests take a refreshing dip, others just chill on the canvas trampoline. A couple is trying their hands at SUPping – or stand up paddling to give it its full appellation. Some are dancing, others are comfortably out of the sun, sitting at the bar, chatting about the perfection of life.
In a word: heaven on earth. Or the Atlantic, to be more specific. Waterfront Charters Clifton Cruises and Sexy Clifton Parties are the ideal way to experience one of life’s most perfect pleasures, without a single moment of discomfit. Park easily at the V&A Waterfront and board the boat; we’ll sail you there past beautiful Cape coastline scenery. And it is just so easy to book – everything is a few mouse clicks away, and at prices normal human beings can afford too. Take a scheduled Waterfront Charters trip or charter a private adventure: we’ll take you to Skoenmaker’s Gat and cobble together the experience of a lifetime for you and your friends.
Speaking of cobblers, that pioneering deserter should have put a fence around the place and planted his flag. His descendants would have blessed his forethought. Although Clifton does have its own flag these days – it has the coveted Blue Flag status, and no beach on earth could be more deserving.
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