Charming Coastal Villages and Towns near Cape Town
There are numerous small villages and town along the Western Cape coast, both along the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. However, each of them has a unique character and distinct flavour, which make them stand out on their own.
While most visitors flock to Kalk Bay and Hout Bay during summer which then transform into a real haven for beach-lovers, others, like Gordon's Bay, come alive in winter. Hermanus, the "whale-watching capital of the world", becomes the favourite during the whale-watching season.
Then, there is Paternoster, the oldest fishing village in the region and Pringle Bay, the refuge for those looking for some relaxation. The following is a list of coastal towns and villages that we recommend. These are all worth a visit and are easily accessible from Cape Town.
1. HOUT BAY-COASTAL VILLAGES
Surrounded by mountains and set on the edge of a tranquil bay, Hout Bay is a beautiful spot to visit on the Atlantic Seaboard. This pretty seaside town has a distinct character and no wonder, the local residents pride in calling their home-town "The Republic of Hout Bay".
On your visit to Hout Bay, a stop-over at the working harbour is an absolute must. Since Hout Bay is still a working fishing village, many fishing boats are docked here. It is interesting to wander up the long wharf to check them out.
There are numerous attractions in Hout Bay, which makes it one of the most visited places in Cape Town. The popular Bay Harbour Market runs from 5 pm to 9 pm on Friday, and from 9:30 am to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday. It comprises of more than 100 stalls, from delicious food to locally made items.
After exploring the curios, one can take a cruise to Seal Island on any of the number of cruise boats available. One of the largest Cape seal colonies, Seal island is the place that seals have made their permanent home.
Once back from the island, there is much to be viewed from the harbour, from merely taking strolls to visiting the fish shops for some fresh produce or enjoying a coffee in one of the harbour's restaurants or coffee shops. Besides, a visit to the Mariner's Wharf for some freshest seafood is definitely worth it!
Other than that, visitors also have the option to visit the World of Birds, which is home to more than 400 species of birds and animals.
Also, Hout Bay beaches are popular with families who like to spend a relaxing day in the sun. Swimming, body-boarding, paddling and para-gliding are just some of the activities that some may enjoy. Deep sea fishing for enthusiasts can be arranged. A number of riding stables across Hout Bay offer horse rides.
There are large sand dunes in the back section of the beach. With mountains in the surroundings, it feels like the city is very far away. Interestingly, Hout Bay is only a 20-minute drive from Cape Town. So, make it a must to explore the charming Hout Bay!
2. KALK BAY-SEASIDE VILLAGE
Found in False Bay, Kalk Bay is a popular seaside village with a retro feel. It is sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. Indeed, Kalk Bay, with an utterly unique character and a mood totally different from Cape Town, can be classified as a favourite destination among visitors.
The local population, made up of fishermen, artists, surfers and hippies complement the atmosphere. Locals and tourists alike flock to the harbour to see the fishermen return ashore with their catch, accompanied by sea gulls and followed by seals. If you are here between June and November, there is a good chance of spotting the southern right whales just off the shore.
The main street in Kalk Bay with its Victorian architecture has small interesting shops and it is very easy to lose yourself amid all that the shops have to offer for a while. Kalk Bay is a fun place to look for antiques and to visit numerous galleries.
Kalk Bay is also home to some of Cape Town's finest restaurants. The restaurants in the harbour are situated on the water's edge and offer fascinating views and not surprisingly, they serve the freshest fish. The original branch of Harbour House seafood restaurant is perched right above the water. Another neighbourhood institution is Olympia Café & Deli, which serves some of the best ciabbatas and danishes in the Cape.
Families enjoy the small beaches and tidal pools. A stroll along the main road will provide you a view of the lighthouse. Furthermore, a walk along the beach will allow you to appreciate the beauty and breathe in the sea air.
There is a holiday atmosphere and fishermen ply the waters constantly whatever the time of day or season. With its colourful boats bobbing above the water in the harbour, its equally colourful features give it a truly authentic feel. Kalk Bay is certainly worth a visit!
3. GORDON'S BAY-COASTAL VILLAGE
Tucked into the north-eastern corner of False Bay, Gordon's Bay is framed with the exquisite views of the slopes of Hottentots Holland in the background. This Mediterranean-style village is situated only 45 minutes from Cape Town city centre and 30 minutes from the Cape Town International Airport.
Once a small fishing village, Gordon's Bay was mostly known for the South Africa Naval College, found in the Old harbour. At the Old harbour, you will, even now, find good old pubs and across the bay, the new marina is home to yachts.
Gordon's Bay buzzes with activity during the peak season, especially with its warm Mediterranean climate. Gordon's Bay Beach has a sandy shore and stretches over 800 m. The beach provides a good sitting arrangement as the beach is lined up with benches. It is popular with families and people who want to quiet time to relax.
Another well-known beach in Gordon's Bay is Bikini Beach. The well-protected blue-flag Bikini Beach is tucked against the old harbour. It is popular with the younger crowd who come here to play beach volleyball, sunbathe and surf.
Interestingly, Gordon's Bay is located at a strategic location. As, such, there are numerous attractions in the vicinity. It is on the way to the famous winelands. The Helderberg Wine Route is a 10-minute drive from Gordon's Bay. If you are here during the whale-watching season, do not miss a drive along the coastal Clarence Drive! It is situated between Gordon's Bay and Betty's Bay and offers some of the best whale-watching opportunities.
Besides, Gordon's Bay remains lively even in winter, mainly because of its Winter Wonderland Festival of Lights in June and July. Locals and visitors alike brave the chills for the parades, markets and fairs.
Also, nature lovers can spend some time at the Nederburg Nature Reserve. The more active visitors may opt for hiking along the Steenbras River Gorge and get stunning views of False Bay from the Steenbras Dam.
Other to-do things in Gordon's Bay include fishing. Fishing from the rocks and the old harbour wall is a popular pastime with both locals and visitors. Also, fishing charters and pleasure cruises depart from the waterfront and harbour. Evenings should be devoted to strolls along the harbour, sunset cruises from the old harbour or dining in one of the excellent seafood restaurants.
4. PATERNOSTER-FISHING VILLAGE
Paternoster is the oldest fishing village on the West Coast. It takes a 90-minute drive from Cape Town to reach Paternoster. This charming coastal village has everything to portray the typical West Coast life.
The local people are all deeply connected to the sea. In fact, the sea is a way of life for the local people with fishermen heading out in colourful traditional wooden boats to catch snoek in winter and crayfish in summer. Visitors can buy fresh fish off the boats themselves.
Paternoster is watched over by the Cape Columbine lighthouse. The lighthouse stands tall in the Cape Columbine nature reserve. The reserve is a favourite camping ground for summer holiday makers who want to be close to nature and the water's edge.
Paternoster is also very popular among snorkellers, divers, kite surfers, hikers, bikers and kayakers. Whales and dolphins can be watched almost throughout the year. Birdwatchers are indeed very delighted to see the endangered black oyster-catchers and over 200 other species.
Paternoster is also home to a small community of artists. Their painting, sculpture, pottery and photography are usually displayed at the galleries and shops in the village. Foodies will love Paternoster for the wide choice of food available. There are some really excellent restaurants in this coastal village. Seafood braais is very popular in the area.
Other interesting attractions in Paternoster are beautiful sunsets, long strolls on the beach, seal and penguin watching. One can also climb the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the village and far beyond.
5. HERMANUS-SEASIDE VILLAGE
Located along the Western Cape, Hermanus is a beautiful seaside village. It can be reached after a drive of only one and a half hours from Cape Town. Due to its favourable coastal location, Hermanus is a popular holiday venue for weekends or even extended stays as it offers a multitude of activities and enchants visitors throughout the year.
People are mainly drawn to Hermanus because of its whale-watching activities. Hermanus is one of the 12 best whale watching destinations in the world. The best time to enjoy whale watching in Hermanus is between July and November. Hermanus, particularly Walker Bay, is the mating and breeding grounds of the Southern right whales from June to November.
Another popular activity in Hermanus is shark cage diving. Shark cage diving is arguably one of the most thrilling experiences on the planet. Shark Cage Dives are conducted from Gansbaai which is situated about 40 minutes outside Hermanus. Other activities in Hermanus include boating, kayaking, kite-surfing, quad-biking and golfing.
Another draw-card of Hermanus is the Hermanus Wine Route. The Hermanus Wine Route starts at Benguela Cove and goes up to the last stretch of Hermanus. This wine route offers a variety of award-winning wines to taste at the numerous wineries which are all set in stunning scenery. The excellent restaurants at these wineries serve delicious meals that complement the wines.
6. ST JAMES-CAPE TOWN SUBURB
St James is one of the smallest picturesque suburbs of Cape Town, found on False Bay between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. This largely residential area is beautiful with historic homes and a stone church with a thatched roof along the quiet main road. These gracious stone houses stand as symbols of the wealthy colonial past when the main road was commonly known as "Millionaire's Mile".
St James has a small but charming beach. It is well-known for its colourful Victorian bathing boxes, large tidal pool and rock pools. This beach is well-sheltered and safe for swimming. There are several cafés and restaurants nearby.
Here, the water temperature is much warmer than the other side of the peninsula as it is closer to Cape Agulhas where the chilly Atlantic and warm Indian oceans meet. This beach is ideal for families. St James indeed offers the visitor a relaxing spot in which to unwind and enjoy the intimate beach.
7. MUIZENBERG TOWN
Muizenberg, a historic town with a beautiful beach lies on the shores of False Bay. It is known for its long sandy beach which stretches up to Gordon's Beach. It also has the benefit of the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean. Along with its popular beach and rich architecture, Muizenberg also has many other attractions.
This town is always very lively during the peak season. Holiday-makers crowd its streets as they make their way down to the beach. Although the Muizenberg beach is not as picturesque as other Cape Town's beaches, it is nonetheless a popular tourist beach. The water is usually calm and is child-friendly. Though the waves are not so enormous, it is a popular surfing spot. It is ideal for long boarding and novices.
Watch out for the brightly coloured Victorian beach houses! A reminder of the time when Muizenberg was Cape Town's premier swimming beach, they also provide great photo opportunities.
Behind the beach, the town of Muizenberg prides in the oldest building on the False Bay coast. The main road, also known as the Het Posthuysin Main road dates to the 1600s. This "historical mile" includes the Het Posthuys Museum and Rhodes Cottage.
Nearby, visitors can stop by the Battle of Muizenberg site, where the British captured the Dutch colony in 1795 – a significant marker in the history of Cape Town and South Africa. The Muizenberg Railway Station of the Edwardian-era is also worth a visit.
Muizenberg beach is also a hot spot for surfing, kite surfing, boating, sailing, canoeing, bird watching and hiking.
8. PRINGLE BAY- COASTAL VILLAGE
Found at only 85 km from Cape Town, Pringle Bay is a charming coastal village on the famous Whale Route. Pringle Bay beach is pristine and flawless and never crowded throughout the year. There is a small lagoon with clear warm water where the Buffels River enters the sea. The village is bordered by mountains on three sides and overlooks the Ocean.
The picturesque village is the home and retreat corner of many talented artists in the theatre, film and art industry. The interesting mix of young and old, local and overseas residents in Pringle Bay makes it a lively place throughout the year.
Pringle Bay forms part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. The Kogelberg Nature Reserve offers one and two day hikes for serious hikers. Other than this, Pringle Bay also has several amazing hiking trails. Some popular hiking trails in the area are the Hangklip Mountain trail, Brodie Link Cape Nature, the Old Coastal Pad and the Lighthouse trail.
The Harold Porter Botanical gardens, at a 10-minute drive from Pringle Bay, showcases the flora in the region. Equally 10 minutes out of Pringle Bay, you will come to the penguin colony at Stony Point. Moreover, there are plenty of excellent whale watching opportunities along the coast.
The Pringle Bay Beach is also the host to many water sports activities. The small lagoon at the mouth of the Buffels River is a favourite swimming place for children. They can often be seen paddling, splashing, swimming and building sand castles at the Buffel’s River Mouth.
Other nearby attractions are Arabella, one of the top golf courses in the country, Hermanus, the whale capital and a short drive will lead you to the wine-lands.
9. CAMPS BAY-COASTAL VILLAGE
Camps Bay is one of the trendiest places in Cape Town. It offers spectacular views of Lion's Head and the Twelve Apostles and its fine white sand is packed with beautiful people, especially over weekends and during holidays.
While supermodels and rock stars of the world are known to hang out at Camps Bay, it is also a great place for families. Camps Bay’s long stretch of beach is perfect for sunbathing and its flat surface means that team activities like Frisbee and social beach volleyball can also be enjoyed by the more active visitors. During the Easter break and around the Christmas holidays, Camps Bay is packed to the brim.
The sea is, due to Camps Bay’s protected position in the bay, quite calm and good for swimming. At the southern end, you will find a tidal pool. The northern part is great for surfing. There is a stretch of lawn in front of the beach where picnics are often enjoyed. Camps Bay beach is safe, clean and family friendly.
Camps Bay also has popular hiking trails around Camps Bay are Pipe Track, Lion's Head, The Glen and along the sea on Victoria Road. In fact, Victoria Road has many restaurants and trendy pubs. Also, the Table Mountain cable-way is only 10 minutes away from Camps Bay. You may also want to hop in some of the numerous museums and galleries. The well-known Clifton beaches are also found quite close to Camps Bay.
A wide variety of guest houses, hotels, bed & breakfasts and self-catering options makes Camps Bay the ideal base for visitors to Cape Town.
10. Bloubergstrand-CAPE TOWN SUBURB
About 20 minutes' drive from Cape Town, Bloubergstrand is located on the Blaawberg Coast. Bloubergstrand has, over the years, earned the reputation of being the gateway to the seafood Mecca of the Cape West Coast.
Bloubergstrand, "blue mountain beach" in Afrikaans, is named after Blouberg, a hill quite close to the coast. Bloubergstrand is mainly a residential area and draws many local and international visitors.
Much of Bloubergstrands' attraction lies in its white sandy beaches. One gets spectacular views of Table Mountain and Cape Town from the beaches. The famous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, can also quite distinctly be seen from the Bloubergstrand Beach.
Big Bay is the main beach in Bloubergstrand. It is a surfers´ paradise and hosts several national and international competitions annually. Little Bay is a nice family beach and suitable for sunbathers.
Along with the beautiful beaches and spectacular views, Bloubergstrand offers the visitor a plethora of attractions and activities. Its close distance to the City Centre also make it a convenient base when visiting the Cape. Bloubergstrand has many restaurants where you can relish delicious seafood while enjoying the views and sunset.