Seal Snorkeling is Serious Fun!

If you’ve spent time at the V&A Waterfront you will have undoubtedly seen our local Cape Fur Seals as they sun themselves on the decks and tyres of our working harbour. Perhaps you’ve even spotted them in the ocean, a lazy flipper waving as if to say hello (we learned that they actually poke their flippers out of the water to absorb heat from the sun but don’t let this small fact stop you from waving back).

What you probably haven’t experienced is one of these sleek and slippery sea dogs blowing bubbles into your face or darting towards you before veering away at the last moment. But this is exactly the up close and personal encounter that lies in store for those brave enough to take the plunge and go Seal Snorkeling!


Based at Hout Bay- a historic working harbour famous for their fishing industry (and very tasty seafood), the lively team at Cape Town Bucket List welcomed us to gather under their tarpaulin shelter- stationed right on the water’s edge.

After jumping and squeezing into our very thick wetsuits, hoods and booties (all in excellent condition), the crew gathered us round for a safety briefing – covering everything from the boat to the dive and, of course, the seals themselves. If you’re worried about sharks, don’t be. Duiker Island, where we headed, is far too shallow for the predators, who prefer the far- off Seal Island instead. And while the Cape Fur Seal can reach a hefty 300kgs in weight, our destination is home to the much smaller females and pups who aren’t aggressive or nearly as large.

IMG_2876 (1)

While the weather was overcast, the air was still and the water glassy and calm. As we sped out towards our rocky target on an exhilarating speed boat, we took in the views of the surrounding mountains and Chapmans Peak and even passed a colossal sunfish as it dove towards the ocean bed.

Duiker Island, so named for the families of Cormorant birds (Duikers) who nest there, is just 10-minutes away from the shore, so any fears of endless, open water are assuaged. The ocean was also pleasingly shallow, the deepest parts of our venture no more than a 5-metre drop to the visible floor.


With the anchor dropped and the two safety buoys hitched into place, our crew fitted our masks, gloves and flippers before inviting us in to play – the hundreds of seals already leaping in and out of the water.

Breath held I took the plunge, and the icy sea filled my suit, a shock (but mercifully short-lived one) to the system. While it takes a couple of strokes to warm up, the delighted squeals of those already surrounded by the seals will encourage you to venture out.


With the safety crew in the water with us, I felt totally at ease and plunged my face down into the watery world below.


Where seals are lolloping and a little ungraceful on land, in the ocean they are magical to behold. Frisky pups (complete with big puppy dog eyes) bobbed head down and bottom up in the waves, while the more curious inquisitors swam right up to me, nibbling on my fins before blowing a jet stream of bubbles into my mask and zooming off again. After witnessing their agile antics, both with one other and us (as they seemed as eager to study us as we were them), it’s easy to understand why they’re called the ‘puppies of the sea’. Indeed, their enthusiasm for fun was matched only by own (though I failed to keep up with their energy levels – try as I did to maintain a modicum of their speed).


After what felt like a few fleeting minutes (we spent just under an hour in the water), our crew called us back to the boat where they hoisted us onboard – away from our furry friends in their hypnotic, swaying kelp forests.

With the excitement waning the cold set in, but our attentive team knew just what to do and tipped a measure of hot water into our suits (bliss!) before pouring us each a cup of steaming hot chocolate. Warmed from both the outside and in, we sped back to dry land – smiles fixed onto our shining faces as we animatedly shared our encounters with one another.


Once back on the shore, the team handed us fuzzy ponchos to change into, making it easy to slip out of our sodden wetsuits. Dry once more, we left in search of a famous ‘Fish and Chips’ lunch – newly appreciative of the mysteries that lie beneath the shores of our alluring Atlantic.

Book Your Seal Snorkeling Experience with Cape Town Bucket List

  • When? Snorkeling trips take place from Monday to Sunday at 10:00 and 12:30.
  • Cost? R650 per person, including all the gear and hot chocolate.
  • What to bring? Your adventurous spirit, a swimsuit, a towel and a warm change of clothes.
  • Visit the Cape Town Bucket List website to make your booking. Alternatively call + 27 82 497 8797.

Blog post by: Tarah Darge

Discover Cape Town

A little more to explore.

Our blog serves as a guide and gateway for the luxury traveller. Through our well-informed concierge team, we provide our readers with up to date information on the finest restaurants and places to explore in and around the Mother City.
FeaturedAn ultimate accolade for our Marvellous Moira Mdakana — A Golden Key Concierge at Cape Grace
  Moira at the Concierge desk in the Cape Grace Hotel Two crossed golden keys glint on Moira’s lapel – a subtle sign that she is a newly-minted member of the elite Les Clefs d’Or – or Society of the Golden Keys. The Society of the Golden Keys is recognisable to hotel guests all over the world by the lapel pins of top concierges (which reflect the keys). The Golden Keys is awarded by Les Clefs D’Or, and …
FeaturedIt is time to cast your vote for Cape Grace!
The Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards are here, and we would love your vote. The Readers' Choice Awards are the most important awards in the travel industry, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, airports, and cruise lines in the world – and most importantly, your opinion counts. Interestingly, the 2018 votes were all about comfort and care, a ‘less is more’ approach and understated elegance – all values we hold true to at Cape Grace. So just what makes …
FeaturedWhere to go for Dinner and a Show
Cape Town’s best theatres and the restaurants that surround them. From Cape Town’s premier performing arts venues to glitzy, intimate stages, the Mother City has a dazzling array of places from where to catch a local, or often international, production. Here are some of our favourites, along with the restaurants that surround them. Curtains up! The Artscape The magnificent Artscape is one of Cape Town’s original and very best theatres, and usually hosts the biggest and highest …
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Stay up-to-date with our hotel’s latest developments as well as our concierge team’s top recommendations regarding the best places to visit in and around Cape Town.
Physical Address
  • West Quay Road
    Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
    Cape Town
    South Africa
  • Directions
    Postal Address
  • PO Box 51387
    Waterfront 8001
    Cape Town
    South Africa
  • © 2019 Cape Grace. Proudly crafted by PlusPlusMinus
    © 2019 Cape Grace. Proudly crafted by PlusPlusMinus