Freediving instructor Zandile Ndhlovu on Cape Town’s secret beaches and best cafés


“The ocean is the only place where I am perfect as I am,” says Zandile Ndhlovu, pioneering freediving instructor and founder of The Black Mermaid Foundation, which advocates for diversity in the waters of South Africa and beyond. “It’s where I feel safest in this body.” Born hundreds of miles from the coast in Soweto, Ndhlovu was 28 when her love affair with the ocean began on a snorkelling trip to Bali. But as she learnt more about diving, she realised that she was often the only Black person underwater. Now based in Cape Town, she picks the beaches and cafés along the city’s coastline that she loves to visit. 

Ndhlovu underwaterJacki Bruniquel

Miller’s Point 

“Sometimes I’ll gather with friends at Miller’s Point. We’ll bring our marine permits, suit up and grab some groceries – from the sea. We look for shellfish, such as periwinkles and sea urchins, and kelp. Roushanna Gray, founder of the foraging company Veld and Sea, taught me what to look for in the Cape’s wilds. She offers seasonal courses that you can book.”

Windmill Beach

“What brought me to Cape Town was its beautiful, bracing cold waters. I wake up, pack a bag with swimsuits by local designer Julia Buchanan and meet friends at Windmill Beach to watch the sun rise. Everybody is silent; there’s such gratitude. Then everyone rushes into the water. We’ll swim and dive and just laugh together.” 


The Sweetest Thing 

“Just a few minutes from Windmill Beach is a patisserie called The Sweetest Thing, which has amazing coffee and almond croissants. Further down the coast, Dalebrook Café has a nutty vegan cake that is so good it will make you cry. When I walk in, everyone knows my order: a big oat-milk cappuccino.”

Address: 82 St George’s St, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, 7995, South Africa

The Courtyard Café

“If I want something more substantial, I go for the falafel wraps at this café in Kalk Bay. If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life, it would be chickpeas, in every form.” 

Address: 48 Main Rd, Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7975, South Africa



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