The Western Cape receives 65.7% of the total number of visitors to the country, the majority of them arriving during peak season. This includes a total of 707 783 international arrivals, and 3 513 794 domestic arrivals through Cape Town International Airport. 20.6% of these visitors engage in outdoor activity, with an estimated 4.2% (177 306) of people visiting Cape Town spending their time on the beaches.
-UNWTO World Tourism Barometer (2014)
Recent research has indicated that the perpetual sound of the waves crashing on the shore have the ability to alter brain wave activity helping to stimulate a calm and relaxed sate of being. The sea itself aids mental and physical health by just being in it. The high levels of magnesium found in salt water help calm nerves whilst the water itself can be a great source of physical entertainment and enjoyment.
An additional benefit of an ocean visit may include Thalassotherapy (from the Greek word thalassa, meaning "sea") referring to the medical use of seawater as a form of therapy. It is based on the systematic use of seawater, sea products, and shore climate. The properties of seawater are believed to have beneficial effects upon the pores of the skin.
- Life guards are stationed on the beach for your protection. Always take the time to familiarize yourself with their location and swim in demarcated areas only.
- Always respect the life guards and listen to them.
- Raise your arm to attract their attention if your in trouble.
- It is estimated that everyday 10 people die from unintentional drowning, of which 2 are under the age of 14 years old. 80% of reported drownings are males.
- Factors that influence drowning risk include: lack of swimming ability, non existent physical boundaries, lack of supervision, alcohol use and seizure disorders.
- Rip currents pose a particularly lethal threat to swimmers, and may be defined as a localized relatively thin strip of ocean with a rapid movement of water extending out to sea. It is most powerful at the surface and has been known to pull many swimmers far out to sea.
- Most swimmers panic and exhaust themselves fighting the strong current. If stuck in a rip current, one is advised to allow yourself to be carried by the current until it weakens, and swim at a 90 degree angle to escape it.
- The Western Cape is known throughout the world for the high prevalence of the great white shark. Most Cape Town beaches make use of a flag warning system:
- Green flag = spotting conditions good
- Black flag = spotting conditions poor
- Red flag = high shark alert
- White flag = a shark has been spotted and the siren will sound
- An overexposure to the sun can cause significant skin damage and may be associated with certain skin cancers. Remember to pack enough sunscreen, re-apply as required and make use of a barrier such as an umbrella if required. Please refer to our previous post "Sun and the city" 2/4/2015.
- The average sea temperature of the oceans surrounding Cape Town varies between 15 C and 18.5 C. Exposure to temperatures as low as 16 C can induce a state of mild hypothermia, despite a sunny day on the beach.
- Always swim with a buddy and be aware of the beginning symptoms of hypothermia, including: disorientation, apathy, confusion and discoloration of the skin, particularly around the lips and fingers.
- Hypothermia and cold exposure (Topic Review)
National Emergency number for drowning related incidents:
107 (Land Line)
021 480 770 (Cell Phone)
021 449 3500