I have been asked by several people about our recent trip to Cape Town. Rather than write the same email 15 times, I thought I would share the details behind our trip.
After securing flights at a great price thanks to Jack’s Flight Club for my wife’s birthday, we quickly found ourselves with a trip to Cape Town on the horizon. But where do we stay? After a little research, I quite liked the idea of combining the best of a city and beach break so narrowed down our options to Camps Bay, Sea Point and Simon’s Town.
As a man of a certain age, there was something incredibly appealing about Simon’s Town being a quaint little town with delicious food, and waking up to a beautiful view of the harbour. It is 45 minutes away from the main city but everything we wanted to do was on the doorstep and I loved the idea of retreating from the hustle and bustle at the end of each day.
I am a simple man of simple pleasures and my only demands from any accommodation is Free Wi-Fi and Free Breakfast. Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel had all this and a killer view to wake up to each morning, and for seven nights, it only cost £435 through Booking.com, so it seemed like a no brainer.
Day One: Boulders Beach The Penguin Colony
A short 15-minute walk from the Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel is Boulders Beach where you will find the famous colony of African Penguins. Two breeding pairs arrived at Boulders Beach in 1982 and founded their little colony. Since then, numbers have grown to around 3,000.
In the afternoon, we took it easy and decided to soak up harbour life in Simon’s Town.
Day Two – Cape Town Explorer
As Cape Town is a 40-minute drive away and we were not driving, I wanted to find a private tour that would enable us to see Table Mountain, Robben Island, Bo Kaap and VA Waterfront all in one day. My Google search led me to Anna-Marie Marrs who provides custom-designed private tours for optimum flexibility, maximum enjoyment, and best combinations for individual preferences.
Anna-Marie was the perfect guide who ensured we saw everything we wanted plus a few surprises too. She shared her passion for the natural outdoors, wildlife, and cultural heritage of the Western Cape to provide a and rewarding travel experience in a world-class destination.
Following Anna-Marie’s advice, we purchased tickets in advance for a morning slot to Table Mountain and a 1pm Ferry to Robben Island and she took care of everything else.
Top of Table Mountain looking down at Lions Head, Robben Head, Green Point Stadium from 2010 World Cup and little old me
Day Three – Snorkel With Seals
The idea of taking a boat into the middle of nowhere and jumping into the water with the Cape Fur Seals and have a blast with the clowns of the sea was too hard to resist. The destination was Partridge Point which is home to a few hundred seals.
My wife was a little nervous about how to get in and out of the boat and is not a very confident swimmer. But the staff at Pisces Diving were first class and instantly put her at ease and ensured she too had the time of her life. The seals are extremely curious and playful and entertained divers and snorkelers alike. They mostly hang around the surface when they are in the water but also dive down to 25 meters to Scuba divers.
An experience that will stay with us both for the rest of our lives.
Day Four – Shark Cage Dive
When staying at Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel, breakfast is served at the Saveur Restaurant which is a 2-minute walk away. Next, to the restaurant, you will find Apex Shark Expeditions where you can experience a shark dive in a metal cage.
On the way, we encountered a school of dolphins before anchoring by seal island which is home to over 80,000 seals. Based on the weather, Apex will decide on the best spot to weigh anchor and begin attracting sharks to the vessel. The cage is then deployed, where it floats next to the boat.
Once a shark approaches the boat, bait is kept in the water to keep the shark around long enough for identification, viewing and cage diving purposes. The sharks come very close to the boat. Although it might sound scary, it really isn’t, but it is an amazing experience that you will never forget. We were also incredibly fortunate to encounter a school of dolphins on the trip which made the day even more special.
Day Five – Muizenberg Beach Huts and Kalk Bay
From our hotel in Simon’s Town, we got an Uber to Muizenberg Beach to check out the Instagrammable red huts for around £6.00. Bright, vibrant and very photogenic, the Muizenberg beach huts continue to be an Instagrammer’s delight and a perfect backdrop and location for film and commercial shoots. The beach with its huts is a perfect setting for safe swimming, family outings, learning to surf, sun-bathing and ice-cream eating.
Once we had secured our cool pics, we hailed another Uber to Kalk Bay which cost £3.00. Forbes Magazine’s Ann Abel finds up-and-coming neighborhoods slightly out of the mainstream where local creatives live and work. In her list of the 12 coolest suburbs in the world, you will find the quaint and rustic Kalk Bay. With its old world charm and fab restaurants like the acclaimed Olympia Cafe, Kalk Bay is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.
The main road is filled with colourful clothing and bric-a brac stores, coffee shops and art galleries. And there’s music if you’re in the mood at spots like the iconic Brass Bell and the laid back Cape To Cuba restaurant. Having soaked up the cool vibe and grabbing something to eat and a cold beer, we used the free wi-fi to grab an Uber back to Simon’s town for only £5.00.
Day Six – Cape Point
A combination of having no public transport and Simon’s Town being a little out of the way, getting to Cape Point was more of a challenge than I expected. The first option was to get a boat cruise around Cape Point. But we wanted to get off and walk up to the lighthouse so this was out of the question. With no apparent trips from Simon’s Town, it was looking like we would need to get an Uber to Camps Bay and get the Red Bus trip to Cape Point, but this seemed very inefficient.
The problem with getting a cab is that the paid entrance gate to Cape Point is 15km away from Cape Point itself. So you need to pay the entrance fee of the cab driver and they will have to wait for you. Luckily, we befriended an Uber driver who advised he would take us to Cape Point, wait for 2 hours while we look around and then take us back to Simon’s Town for 500 South African Rand which is only £25.
The driver picked us up at 08:15 and we arrived at 08:50. South African residents only have to pay around £4.00 entrance fee so we covered this and he waited in the car for us to return. From here, we had a few options. It’s a 90-minute return hike to Cape Point, or you can buy a single or return ride on the Funicular and be at the top in just a couple of minutes. We got the first Funicular ride of the day at 09:00 and were the first people at the top before the busloads of tourists arrived.
We stayed for two hours and was back in Simon’s Town by lunchtime.
Day Seven – Simon’s Town and Long Beach
Our hand was forced today as all the roads were closed due to the Cape Town Cycle Tour running through Simon’s Town. We enjoyed a lazy day cheering on cyclists, soaking up the atmosphere and visiting the nearby Long Beach.
As we headed to the airport for our flight back to the UK, my wife and I began discussing the possibility of one-day retiring here in Simon’s Town and waking up this view every day. I cannot think of a better compliment than that.
In 7 days, we both fell in love with how diverse activities in Cape Town. Where else in the world could you hike up mountains, swim with sharks, dance with penguins and swim with seals? As I stood with my head in the clouds at Cape Point while fending off baboons, I found myself reflecting on the incredibly humbling trip to Robben Island and being inspired by the story of Nelson Mandela.
Our Cape Town adventure was full of experiences that we will never forget and I wish you the best on yours too.