I adore beaches. One of the most astonishingly-beautiful beaches in the world is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town. It is called Sandy Bay, a rather plain name in my mind. You drive down through Llandudno and park where the road ends (it's signposted from the main road).
A track, partly laid with boardwalk that eventually peters out, leads away from civilisation to a superb coastal wilderness that is Cape Town's most Elysian place of beauty: a small, stark place - a plage sauvage - drenced in eternal sunlight, the clefts in its hills choked with milkwood trees, and going up to the thicker, virgin forests of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve. The reddish earth gives way to Tippex-white dunes; these dunes are littered with pink-tinged boulders that act as natural wind-buffers. Beneath all this, a yawn of breadcrumb-textured sand that is as white as snow.
Ahead, the mountain comes down to the sea, framing the panorama. In between it, the pinkish rock conceals, then reveals first small coves of white sand, then a large tongue of the whitest sand I've ever seen. It is quite possible to claim a cove as your own for the day.
The ocean is bottle-green, especially in the coves and at the water's edge, changing to dark blue further out; the Agulhas current forces cool water from Antarctica up this coast, so it is an unexpected, but pleasant surprise, to find the sea so delightfully refreshing on such a hot day. But the ocean is by no means cold by Northern European standards.
I glimpse sea anenomes - coloured purple, red, yellow, green and blue - in the rockpools. There's not a single building in sight. A visit here gives one the feeling of ultimate escapism and wild abandon, like being marooned on a desert island, yet one richly endowed with pleasures for the senses. The scene is framed by a harsh blue sky. It is 30c, there is not a breath of wind.
The place is a haven for nature lovers, romantics and naturists.
I know I am in Africa when I find a place of such rare beauty as this.