The little stretch of coastline between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay was our focus, a distance of no more than 7 km that runs from Surfers Corner in Muizenberg, to the Kalk Bay harbour. A laid back route that draws the crowds year round, whether the focus is beach, shopping or good food.
Our impressive list of discoveries begins in Muizenberg, the gateway to the South Peninsula. Stopping in the soft drizzle, we walked to the beach that is such a firm favourite with locals and beginner surfers alike, with its well known surf shops offering board hire, as well as surfing lessons. Actually it is exactly here that I bought my wetsuit a couple of years back, making an unfulfilled promise that I would return to put it to good use on a board. The day will come.
Colourful boards stood bright in the wind and familiar brands such as Rip Curl, Quicksilver and Roxy were displayed for sale, turning both hoodies and bikinis into must have essentials, whatever the weather. There’s an info centre here, a Shark Spotters kiosk and Boerewors and Coffee stand to feed the ocean lovers as they emerge salty, hungry and happy after their bout with the waves.
Looking towards Kalk Bay and on towards Cape Point, the sun was attempting to shine. There’s a pathway that hugs this shoreline and makes for a wonderful walk, running parallel to the train track that connects Simonstown with the city centre.
We took the car though, making the short hop to beautiful St James beach with its brightly painted changing rooms and tidal pool. These little red, blue and yellow houses have become an iconic symbol of the town and draw photographers from afar, but its the beach that is the true hero. White sand, lapping waves and a welcoming tidal pool.
Photogenic in winter, blissful on summer days. Actually being in the tidal pool as the waves break over the wall at high tide, washing you into the water, is a most exhilarating experience. I recommend it! The water in False Bay is warmer than that of the Atlantic Seaboard too, which means if swimming is what you’re after, this is an excellent choice. Perfect especially for families with young children.
On the wall that curves along the pathway, there is currently a Save our Seas Photo exhibition that that portrays the amazing life beneath the waves and around the coast of False Bay: reef fish, sharks, kelp forests, beaches and surf, and the people whose lives are intimately connected to the bay. The comments added after the fact are nothing short of profound. Take some time here and do go snorkelling or diving, to see this under the sea world first hand.
St James itself offers lovely coffee shops and a few good options for shopping and meals, but we kept on going to Kalk Bay, a vibey and bustling village with incredibly good galleries, antiques, craft and thrift shops. Two pointers are to the Kalk Bay Theatre which offers excellent shows, and Kalk Bay Books, which has a superb collection. Also look out for Olympia Cafe & Deli which serves excellent coffee and makes the most delicious bread.
An institution here is the Brass Bell Restaurant, which is literally on the water and has been known to have waves break right over it during stormy weather. Made up of several restaurants and pubs with different themes under one roof, you can be snug inside watching the ocean as you enjoy your meal, or outside in the sun while your children swim in the pool, it all depends on the time of year.
A good place for a beer or sundowner and often offering live music in the evenings, you couldn’t get closer to the water.
We never lingered though, as the Kalk Bay Harbour and its authentic fishing village atmosphere beckoned. Here for decades fishermen have brought in their catch and offered it for sale to visitors, restaurants and locals alike, hanging some fish out in the wind to dry, gutting others for clients, as gulls eagerly awaited the scraps, and feeding the residential rather chubby Cape Fur seals.
There’s a place called Kalky’s at the harbour that has been selling traditional fish and chips to appreciators of the simple things, for years. We stopped in here for some veggie samoosas, hake and chips, sharing what we could with the rather demanding ever demanding kelp gulls.
After lunch we took a walk out to the Lighthouse which appeared translucent against the moody sky. The rain was on and off, and it didn’t matter, it wasn’t that cold bundled up in our jackets and scarves and actually, the cool air suits the area.
With renewed appreciation for the city, we ticked off our list of newly found treasures and headed home knowing that whatever the weather, there is a real and charming side of the city along this concentrated stretch that gives much of itself in people, history, stories and temperamental shoreline.
Be it a coastal walk, excellent shopping or time chatting with the local fishermen, even feeding the seals, its soulful and inviting and has a completely different feel to any other part of the Mother City.
If you opt to walk the coastal road, check the tide and surf, it can get wild and woolly out there and if the waves are breaking high, rather stick to Main Road. If you’re walking both ways, opt to alternate between the two.
To recap, major landmarks to look out for on this stretch include – Surfers’ Corner, Muizenberg Station, St James Beach, Main Road for shopping, the Brass Bell Restaurant and Kalk Bay Harbour with it’s seals and lighthouse.
Caught under a beautiful, moody Cape sky, a little video of the day.
Also know note that on the first Saturday of every month at 08h30, a group meets in the Kalk Bay parking area and does a beach clean up along this stretch, followed by coffee and a swim, if the weather allows. For more info on this, connect with the I Am Water Foundation.
Tall palm trees seen on Main Road.
To see all the posts from the day, look to #CheapflightsExplorers on Instagram.
Disclaimer. This collaboration to highlight insider spots in Cape Town was made possible by Cheapflights and Speckled Egg Digital.