By Lauren Maker
Without a doubt, the spectacular Cape Peninsula is an adventure worth undertaking. Explorer Travel Planner Lauren takes us through her favourite spots.
This scenic part of Cape Town is an adventure of at least 2-3 nights and remains fairly untouched. The incredible Table Mountain National Park includes picturesque hiking trails and is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, while the Peninsula also features long beautiful white-sand beaches, quaint villages and mysterious kelp forests.
The Peninsula starts from Muizenberg and winds itself all the way around the very tip of Cape Town at Cape Point, passing Simonstown and finally ending in Hout Bay. The backdrop is amazing: from the turquoise sea framed by dramatic mountains of False Bay to the quiet coves at Boulder’s Beach where African penguins make their home. You can spend hours exploring Cape Point Nature Reserve, or enjoy a scenic drive along the spectacular bends of famous Chapmans Peak.
The thing about the Cape Peninsula is that many people think that it is just a day trip. As I live in this unique area, I believe it’s filled not only with beautiful natural scenery, but also with exciting activities, magnificent 5-star boutique hotels, farm stays, beach villas and tented accommodation.
Here are my recommended spots to visit on a tour of the Cape Peninsula:
At the start of the Cape Peninsula – and framing the broader False Bay – is Muizenberg. This fantastic seaside suburb is where all the locals hang out – surfing, bodyboarding, walking their dogs, enjoying vegan food at the seaside restaurants or just enjoying an early morning sunrise. But mostly, Muizenberg is for the surfers! Here you can learn to surf, SUP or kite surf, enjoy fish and chips in a local restaurant, and watch the locals cruising the waves.
This unique village is a bohemian styled suburb of local boutiques, antique shops, and excellent sidewalk cafes. Give yourself at least half a day to walk through Kalk Bay from the start to the end; it has all things South African, a busy working harbour and the best local seafood either at Kalkies (a very local eatery) or the fine dining restaurant Harbour House situated on the harbour’s pier. Do not forget your wallet and keep an eye out for seals!
The naval town of Simonstown is full of history. From the main dockyard to the museum, there’s plenty for enthusiasts of naval ships! There’s also the fascinating car museum to visit, which has a brilliant collection of miniture cars, train sets and other dinky-car memorabilia – a great place for kids! The display includes a working model train set with amazing features. The detail and variety of this collection is extensive and is a must see when in Simonstown. Another recommended spot to visit is Jubilee Square which has a statue of Just Nuisance, a famous Great Dane in the naval community. There’s also lots of window shopping to be enjoyed.
It’s all in the name! Boulders Beach is a secluded sandy beach, situated just outside Simonstown, and is well known for its massive stone boulders, family-friendly swimming cove and rock pools. But Boulders is most recognised as being the home to a large colony of African penguins, who can be viewed from the wooden walkway and view site close to the swimming beach.
The Boulders area is also where My Octopus Teacher was filmed, a beautiful story about a relationship between a man and an octopus, which took the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2020. Snorkelling, diving, kayaking and SUP-ing can also be enjoyed in the kelp forests surrounding Boulders Beach and stretching through to Miller’s Point and Smitswinkel Bay.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
The vast Cape Point Nature Reserve – which includes the Cape of Good Hope – is one of Cape Town’s most spectacular reserves. Filled with incredible fauna and flora to observe, you may catch a glimpse of eland, Cape mountain zebra, bontebok, ostrich, chacma baboons and springbok. The birdlife is also exceptional – keep an eye out for sugarbirds and sunbirds. Explore the reserve by car, or enjoy one of the many hiking trails on offer. A popular experience is taking the funicular to the Cape Point lighthouse and enjoying the mesmerizing views of the ocean beyond.
Noordhoek is another special little village on the Cape Peninsula. Tucked against the fold of Noordhoek Peak which stretches to Chapmans Peak, the area is most well-known for Long Beach, a magnificent stretch of white-sand beach that is popular with horseriders, dog walkers and surfers. For a bite to eat, Noordhoek Farm Village is the central hub for fine dining, tapas, bakery-style barn food, and delicious ice cream at Kristen’s Kick Ass Ice Cream. I recommend the Peanut Butter flavour!
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive is found between Noordhoek and Hout Bay. It is one of the most remarkable marine drives in the world, is affectionately known as ‘Chappies’ and is a must for anyone who is passionate about the majestic scenery of Cape Town. This drive juts through the mountain range, giving you incredible views of the rock and sea from high above. Chapman’s Peak has also been nominated as one of the most beautiful drives in the world, recorded by Travel and Leisure, according to Instagram. Remember to snap a photo from the viewpoint and use the hashtag #chapmanspeakdrive
Hout Bay was named by the Dutch settlers who ‘discovered’ the wooded valley, and called it ‘Hout’, which means ‘Wood’ in Dutch. The timber was used to help build Cape Town. This seaside town has lots on offer! Visit Duiker Island by boat, snorkel with the seals and shop till you drop at the famous Hout Bay Harbour and market! Visit the World of Birds on Disa River Road, or enjoy a delicious home-style lunch or coffee at one of the many restaurants or cafes.
The Cape Peninsula offers something for everyone. Romantics, families, older travellers and the adventurous will all find something to tickle their fancy! Consider combining a few days exploring greater Cape Town with a trip to the Winelands or Whale Coast, a self-drive up the scenic Garden Route and a safari in the Kruger Park. Chat to one of the Explorer team today and turn your dream trip into a reality.