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Clifton Beach—Cape Town, South Africa

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cape Town’s beaches is not that they exist—after all, the city sits on a peninsula between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans—but that they’re so popular. Remember that this is an extremely rugged part of the world, which has water cold enough to support penguins and perhaps the highest concentration of great white sharks anywhere. But that doesn’t stop South Africans from flocking to the beach in droves. Clifton Beach, actually a series of four smaller beaches divided by granite boulders, attracts a sometimes painfully trendy crowd of fashionable sunbathers. But you won’t mind them a bit when you see the view here: Nicknamed Cape Town’s St. Tropez, these white sand beaches sit in the shadow of Lion’s Head mountain, lining turquoise waters filled with yachts. Though it’s perfectly safe to swim here, do so at your own risk—the water remains downright frigid even during the summer.
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