It’s Cape Town, it’s hot, you’ve got an hour or so for a lunch break. Where are the 5 best places to sneak off for a quick swim?

Silvermine Nature Reserve

If you’re based in the southern suburbs towards the far south, or perhaps you’re beyond the Dreamcatcher Curtain in Noordhoek or Kommetjie, then it’s pretty easy to get to the Silvermine Nature Reserve, entrance off Ou Kaapse Weg. There’s a large-ish parking lot and from there a quick walk through the fynbos to the coolest dam in Cape Town. Swim laps like a long-distance athlete, or simply splash in the rooibos-coloured shallows. Guaranteed to take the heat off.

Entrance fee:

The Sea Point Pavilion


Parked along the Sea Point promenade is the ever-so-popular Pavilion, with a number of different pools to choose from. There’s the main pool, where you can raise your heart rate and pretend you’re Chad le Clos in the Olympics, a fun pool and a kiddies pool for lolling about and, if you’re feeling brave, the dive pool. Taking the plunge from the top level dive board is something of a rite of passage for many Capetonians, and you’ll feel justifiably smug once you’ve done it. The waves crashing on the sea side of the Pavilion add to the atmosphere.

Entrance fee:

Newlands Swimming Pool

Many people train here and it can get quite busy, but it’s a fabby place to nip into for a quick cool down. Again, it’s great for lengths (just avoid the school kids) and the setting, amidst plenty of greenery with a fabby view of the side of Table Mountain, is relaxing. There’s also a diving pool (practice those backward pikes) and a kiddies pool (if you have a small person with you).

Entrance fee:

Long Street Baths


An institution in the middle of Cape Town, at the top of Long Street, the baths are a peaceful haven away from the bustle of the city. Indoors, with a high ceiling that makes for interesting acoustics, the pool has played host to countless Capetonians as well as visitors for over a hundred years (it opened in 1908). Apart from the main pool there’re steam rooms, a sauna, a plunge pool and showers. Also, different hours and days for men and women to use the Turkish Bath facilities, so just check.

Entrance fee:

St James Tidal Pool


The colourful beach huts at St James have been snapped by literally thousands of people, and it’s easy to understand why. They form a ridiculously photogenic backdrop to one of the cutest tidal pools on the peninsula. At low tide you can swim leisurely widths across the calm face, while high tide creates its own excitement as waves crash over the wall and rush up the sandy beach. And it’s on the train line, which is useful.