1 Day to Captivate The Cape Peninsula
The wind, the ocean, the wilderness and the waves. There is so much natural splendor in the Cape Peninsula for those who choose to adventure around Table Mountain and explore the ‘Deep South’ as locals call it.
We recommend dedicating a full day to really enjoy this beautiful part of Cape Town by following our Cape Peninsula itinerary. So jump in the car (hired or chauffeured), grab your camera, and soak up every twist and turn on this spectacular drive.
1. Swim in the Tidal Pools at St James Beach
Just a little further on from Cape Town’s well-known Muizenberg beach is the postcard-pretty St James Beach. The epitome of shore-side charm, this sandy gem is hemmed in by a line of brightly coloured wooden beach huts featuring primary coloured roofs and doors.
The natural rock pools are ideal for exploring with little ones, who scurry around with delight in the sheltered bay, while the man-made tidal pool right at the centre of it all is the second iconic trademark of St James beach. It is warmer than the ocean, and fantastic for little ones, who can splash around unaffected by currents or crashing waves.
Remember to bring along your sunblock, hats, beach toys and own refreshment supplies.
2. Breakfast, Lunch or Treats at Olympia Cafe in Kalk Bay
Kalk Bay was named one of The 12 Coolest Neighbourhoods Around The World by Forbes magazine in July 2018, among international hotspots like Barcelona, Washington and Amsterdam, and outranking London and New York in the process. After one visit to the boho beachside town, it is not hard to see why. A motley crew of vintage stores, high-end boutiques, theatres, art galleries, book stores and of course, eateries dot the village, which is a delight to walk through.
Olympia Cafe, on the main road, is in an institution, and has been around for 100 years, serving up car-sized croissants, big breakfasts, great coffee, and baked goods in abundance. The blackboard menu (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) changes daily, but one thing that remains constant, are the queues of hungry patrons, so get there early to nab a seat at one of the rustic tables. Alternatively, grab a coffee and gigantic baked good to go.
3. Ice Cream Pitstop at the Ice Cafe
There is nothing like a cold scoop of gelato on a hot day! The Kalk Bay Ice Cafe has long been a fixture of this quaint and quirky town. Made using a secret family recipe, the ice cream is made using natural ingredients and no eggs or gelatine.
The favourite flavours include Black Forest (with real cherries, chocolate cake and cream) Peanut Butter, Cinnamon, Liquorice, Coffee, and Coconut, though you cannot go wrong with good ol’ strawberry. Load up the scoops, and then take a stroll through the town.
4. See the Penguins at Boulders Beach
Take the Simon’s Town route to or from Cape Point and stop in this sweet little seaside village to explore Boulders Beach where our most famous celebrities, the African Penguins can be found waddling to and from the shores where they nest and raise their fluffy young.
These tuxedoed fowls, previously named the Jackass Penguin because of their distinctive braying call, are endangered and so appreciating them in their natural habitat is a special treat. While Boulders beach is also great for swimming, the best views of the breeding pairs are to be found on the Foxy beach boardwalk that’s also wheelchair friendly. If you would like to know more, take a turn into the Boulders Visitors Centre where guides are waiting to share their knowledge. The snappy dressers are best seen in the early morning or late afternoon/evening when you can skip the crowds and enjoy the sunset.
5. Explore the Hidden Beaches
There are some wonderfully unspoilt beaches along the rugged coast that are surprising pockets of calm and stillness amidst an otherwise blustery terrain.
Boulders Beach is great for the little ones, as it is ever so slightly warmer and fairly shallow, but the real gems are to be found in the Cape Point nature reserve itself. Buffels Beach is the most popular choice, not only for the views of False Bay and of the point, but also because it has a sparkling tidal pool that offers visitors the chance to dip in and cool down in safety after a busy day of exploring. Diaz Beach, a 20-minute walk down from Cape Point, is well worth the trip if you love photography, or just want to embrace the majesty of the 200m cliffs that flank it. While not suited to swimming, it is intimacy, perspectives and isolated paths make it feel like a small slice of romantic paradise.
If you have heard of Cape Point, you might have also heard about the legendary shipwrecks – their bones scattered as testament to the treachery of the stormy seas. Olifantsbos Beach, a short drive away from the hub of the point, is the starting point of the Shipwreck Trail – an easygoing 2-hour walk that will collide you with two of the most famous wrecks on the shores. The local wildlife (tortoises aplenty and even some baboons) might also be seen from the winding paths.
6. Hike the Trails
Indigenous Fynbos, birdlife, fleeting buck, mongoose, troops of chacma baboons, and even ostriches, not to mention the craggy cliffs themselves, are all reasons to lace up your hiking boots and set foot along a path or two.
There are various short walks and longer hikes set both in and out of the protected park. If you’re feeling fit and aren’t afraid of the wind, the Smitswinkel hike, adjacent to the reserve, is a challenging but rewarding endeavour that, once summited, offers views of the point and Simon’s Town. However, if you’re looking for something a little less intense, the Cape of Good Hope trail, an easy 3,5 km, takes you to the famous Cape of Good Hope sign – a fantastic photo opportunity and proof that you’ve reached the most South Western point in Africa.
7. Hop on The Flying Dutchman Funicular
Finally, first-time visitors to this most unique national park should not leave without reaching the lighthouse viewpoint. While you could take the relatively steep path to the top, the Flying Dutchman funicular (so named after the ghostly ship said to haunt the water chasms below) is a fun way to get there fast.
The Old Lighthouse, dating back to 1860 and rising up 238m above sea level is just the start of the Lighthouse Keepers trail which takes you approximately 1 km to its successor. The New Lighthouse, constructed in 1919 is the most powerful light in Africa with a candlepower of 19 million. It is also the place from where to peer down at the Old Lighthouse and the crashing seas below.
8. Finish off with the Cape’s Best Calamari
Take the Chapman’s Peak route back towards town. The dramatic views alone make it worth the while, but the promise of the Cape’s best calamari does not hurt either. The Chapmans Peak Restaurant is regarded as the grand old lady of outdoor seafood restaurants in Cape Town, with decades of worldwide reputation for its famous calamari and seafood. The sun drenched terrace, ideal for those hot summer days and lingering sunsets, has a spectacular view of the beach, Atlantic Ocean and harbour activities in the background – the perfect way to reflect on a day of adventure.
If you are feeling inspired by the wonder of Cape nature and wish to know more both about the facts and myths of the area, make sure to download the free Cape Point Audio Tour.
Visit the Cape Point website for bookings and more information and make sure that you take a few layers with you as the weather conditions can change quickly. The queue to get into the park can also get long fast, so aim to be there early or phone to check beforehand if you’re pressed for time.
Our Cape Grace concierge team are experts at arranging guest itineraries that help maximise your Cape Town experience, even if you have limited time. If you plan on staying with, let us know. We are always happy to help put together something especially memorable.
Blog post by Tarah Darge