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Kommetjie

The further south you travel on the Cape Peninsula, the more relaxed and creative the people are. At Imhoffs Gift farm you will find a kite shop, camel and horse rides, custom painted surf boards and other expressions of artistic talent. Kommetjie has a popular beach for swimming, surfing, crayfishing and boating. On a calm weekend in the summer divers can be seen gasping for breath on the surface after free-diving to try and catch their daily quota of crayfish (rock lobster). The less sporty prefer to sit in boats and use lobster traps instead.

Fish Hoek

Along the False Bay coast road from Simon's Town lies the placid town of Fish Hoek. Most of the residents are retired but it still has a busy main street with market stalls competing with shoppers on the pavements. The long sandy beach is one of the safest in the Cape for bathing and body boarding and when the wind picks up, hobie-cats and windsurfers take to the waves. From July to October whales come into Fish Hoek bay and loll around just 50 metres from the shore in preparation for mating and giving birth. Huge schools of dolphins are also sometimes seen.

To prohibit the raucous thirsty sailors stopping here for a drink on their way to Simon's Town navy base, the original 1818 farm was only granted on the condition that there was no public wine house. One hundred and eighty years on, there is still no liquor store and any pub that opens up seems to go out of business very quickly due to lack of customers.

Simons Town

This is a quintessentially English seaside town with intricate Victorian wrought iron balustrades and the flag flying British Hotel dominating the main street. Enticing alley ways lead up to whitewashed houses on the hillside which overlook a charming waterfront complex and the False Bay Yacht Club alongside extensive Navy buildings.

In 1814 the English colonial rulers of the Cape turned Simon's Town into a Naval Base and it has remained one ever since. In 1940 when the sailors' favourite Great Dane dog created a nuisance of himself on the trains, a request was sent to the British parliament asking for him to be enlisted in the Navy. Permission was granted and the dog was brought to the Recruiting Officer who enquired, "Name?" "Nuisance, Sir", the sailor replied. "First name?" "Just nuisance, Sir," the sailor stated. 'Able Seaman Just Nuisance' was the only dog ever to hold rank in the Royal Navy and he became a legend in his own lifetime. He died prematurely after a boisterous leap from a moving vehicle but is immortalised in a life-sized statue in Simon's Town's Jubilee Square.

This is a delightful area to spend some of your holiday and a visit to the rare African Jackass Penguin colony at Boulder's Beach, a couple of kilometres out of Simon's Town, should not be missed. Further along the road towards Cape Point you are very likely to come across the resident troop of baboons who rule the road and jump onto car bonnets to peer nonchalantly in.

Noordhoek

One of the most spectacular beach views in the world comes into sight as you come around Chapman's Peak Drive. Noordhoek's 8km beach is the longest and widest stretch of untouched pure white sand in the whole peninsula. Not suitable for swimming but perfect for the experienced surfer, it is wonderful for long walks, horse rides and sundowner drinks. The skeleton of the British steamer Kakapo, lies in the middle of the beach after it ran aground on its maiden voyage to New Zealand in 1900. In bad weather the Captain made a serious navigational error and came so far up onto the sand that the disembarking crew did not even get their feet wet! The village of Noordhoek does not really have a centre, it is more of a leafy horsey settlement with one or two eating and drinking establishments, some quiet guest houses and lovely craft centres.

Kalk Bay

A delightful fishing village on the False Bay coast with a protected little harbour full of brightly painted wooden boats. Go at around 1pm to watch the fishermen offload their catch and you can buy your supper straight from the boat. The narrow main street is renowned for antique and art shops which make fascinating browsing and the well known Brass Bell restaurant and bar is as close as you can get to the breakers without going for a swim. Boyes Drive takes you up onto the hillside for wonderful views of the harbour and in these hills lurk deep caverns and caves with a labyrinth of passages and chambers that are said to be haunted.

Muizenberg

A view to take your breath away unfolds from the elevated Boyes Drive leading between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay and is a good place to spot whales in the season. Muizenberg beach appears to go on forever and the rhythmic waves offer one of the longest wave breaks in the world, perfect for novice surfers and safe for swimming. The town itself has some attractive buildings but a somewhat shabby appearance.

Hout Bay

The early Dutch settlers sent a party to explore the bay behind Table Mountain and found a beautiful heavily wooded valley surrounded by protective mountains and good fishing. The trees became the main source of timber for ship building and repairs and it became known as Houtbaai (Wood Bay). Current residents call it the 'Republic of Hout Bay' because they feel aloof from the rest of Cape Town. It is a sociable village with people chatting in cafes and a main street of interesting shops and an excellent craft market on the green every Sunday. The busy harbour is the centre for the tuna and crayfishing fleets with fish and chip restaurants a stone's throw from the water's edge. The beach is long and sandy and safe for swimming and watersports like sea kayaking or dinghy sailing. Only 20 minutes drive from the centre of Cape Town this is a lovely place to base your holiday.

Chapman's Peak Drive is one of the most scenic marine cliff drives in the world. It was hewn into the side of the mountain between 1915- 1922, cut on the dividing line of the base granite and sedimentary sandstone. Brilliantly coloured layers of red, orange and yellow silt along with dark purple lines of manganese are extraordinarily beautiful, but it is not advisable to take your eyes of the winding road which has a sheer drop to the sea. Luckily there are plenty of viewpoints for photos or a picnic, with spectacular scenery north to Hout Bay and south to Noordhoek and Kommetjie.

Images on this page courtesy of SA Tourism.

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