On Dan and my trip to South Africa last year, we ended our grand vacation with a day of activities on the Cape Peninsula. This was the second time that Dan and I have done a tour of this area and, in my opinion, its one of the very best things to do in greater Cape Town. The natural beauty is outstanding, and I feel like one would miss out if this area was not visited. A lot of people do this type of tour on their own with a car, which is certainly doable, but we liked having a guide and the biking portion. In any case, this is a review of what we did on our most recent trip.
PICK UP FROM HOTEL
Our morning started with a pick up at our hotel around 8:00 AM. Our guide showed up on time in a white van with several heavy duty road bikes pulled behind. Very intense. Luckily, we had eaten breakfast at the hotel, as we would not have lunch for a looooong while (although this was the tour, not lack of food or restaurants en route).
DRIVE DOWN THE CAPE PENINSULA
After pick up, we began the gorgeous drive down the Cape Peninsula, which runs along the coast and is absolutely stunning. We did not stop for photographs due to time constraints, but I took some shots from the van. If you are doing this drive, Muizenberg is a good place to stop, very popular with surfers. Its also home to those adorable multi colored beach huts that you see in pictures! You can see surfers in the back ground of the second picture below if you look closely.
BOULDERS BEACH AND SIMON’S TOWN TO SEE PENGUINS!
After about 40 minutes on the road, we reached Simon’s Town, South Africa. Simon’s Town is small town south of Cape Town proper on False Bay. Simon’s town is practically known as a prominent South African Naval base, but for tourists, its home to Boulders Beach! Boulders Beach is part of Table Mountain National Park, and its home to so many adorable African penguins. We parked our car in Simons Town and walked about 5 minutes (straight walk) to Boulders Beach. We paid the fee to enter (around $8.50 USD) and walked out to the beach to see the African Penguins! And we saw so many, including baby penguins that had not yet lost their brown fur! We also saw a few Dassies, or little brown mammals (similar size to a rabbit) that are close related to the elephant. Who knew?! We spent about 30 minutes at Boulders Beach watching the penguins. I would note that guests must stay on raised platforms and cannot touch, interact with or feed the penguins (they bite, and there is a fine involved if caught).
All guests exit Boulders Beach through a small gift shop, which actually has cute souvenirs, in addition to snacks and drinks. We stocked up on the famous South African wine gums (side note, they do not contain any alcohol), which would come in handy later in the day when we were starving.
PHOTO SHOOT AT CAPE POINT
Post Simon’s Town, it was time to drive down to the Cape of Good Hope for that necessary photo opportunity with the famous “Cape of Good Hope” sign. Like most of the driving that we did this day, the views en route are simply stunning and it’s not uncommon to see wildlife . This day, we saw a couple ostrich, but I have seen zebras and baboons in the past. Keep your eyes peeled!
We reached the Cape of Good Hope, which is the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, after a brief drive and to our excitement, it was largely empty! As such, we took a lot of photographs! The last time Dan and I were here, there were numerous tour buses and a literal line to take a photograph with the sign. I think our empty afternoon was due to the fact that South Africa had only recently opened back up after Covid. If you are doing this tour on your own, be prepared for a wait here. I would also note that there is parking near the sign if you are driving yourself.
On our previous visit, we hiked around the small rocky mount behind the sign and took pictures there before hiking to the Cape Point Light House (about an hour). This time, however, we skipped the hiking portion and boarded the van after our photo opportunity. I think this was because we were tight on time and had much other physical activity planned for later in the day.
HIKING UP TO THE CAPE POINT LIGHTHOUSE
About five minutes after leaving the Cape of Good Hope sign, we arrived at the Cape Point Lighthouse parking lot, where we got out to hike up to the light house for amazing views. The hike from the parking lot up to the light house is not too crazy, but it is kind of steep with a number of stairs. I think it took us about 25 minutes to get to the top, and we were definitely sweating by the time we reached the top, LOL. For those doing this hike, there is a funicular to get you most of the way (but you still have to climb some stairs to reach the very top) and there are benches, look out points, etc. along the way, so you can certainly take a rest. I would also note that en route and at the top, you are likely to run into baboon families. They look kind of scary and get far too close to people (because they are used to them), but they left us alone.
The Light House rewards travelers with gorgeous views of False Bay meeting the Atlantic Ocean. This is super interesting, as False Bay is much calmer and you can actually see where the two bodies of water meet. Be sure to bring a camera. On this visit, we were also “treated” to a mommy baboon and her baby baboon, who decided to take up residence right next to the only exit. I was scared to walk by her, but she didn’t seem to give people a second look…
I would finally note that there is a decent gift shop at the base of the climb next to the parking lot, as well as a small gift shop en route to the light house. The shop is not too over priced and its a good place for souvenirs.
BIKE RIDE SOMEWHERE ON THE CAPE PENINSULA
After our (exhausting) hike to the Cape Point Lighthouse, we drove down the Cape Peninsula a bit a stopped off to change from a van ride to a bike ride. We really stopped on the side of the road and our guide helped us adorn bike helmets and fit the bikes for our ride.
Once we were all ready to go, we rode along a country road, slowing making our way to the coast, where we finished our bike ride along the South Atlantic Ocean. This was a bit hectic and a car did run me into some bushes…but its ok because I survived, LOL! The total bike ride was several miles (!) which was just crazy. The road was mostly flat (aside from a very small but difficult hill), so the ride was not too hard. Guests not wanting to bike can ride in the van.
HOUT BAY AND SEAL ISLAND
For our final adventure of the day, we arrived at Hout Bay late in the afternoon. Hout Bay is a harbor town on the Atlantic seaboard, about 20 kilometers south of Cape Town. Hout Bay is famous with tourists due to its proximity to the infamous Seal Island. Before getting to that, Hout Bay Harbour is a pretty harbor filled with boats and that smells like fish. There is plenty of tourist shopping here (but not great shopping honestly), as well as parking and lots of seafood forward restaurants.
A popular activity at Hout Bay is taking a small boat out to Seal Island (or properly, Duiker Island), is a tiny rocky land mass near Hout Bay. The island is home to many, many Cape fur seals (around 64,000 according to the internet). There are rumors that Great White sharks used to hang out in this area and eat the Cape fur seals, but I don’t think they do anymore (and I’m not sure who true this rumor is!). In any case, we bought tickets to Seal Island for a few dollars a person and made the 40 minute-ish round trip venture out to Seal Island. For those making the venture, the boats are kind of small and the water was very, very rough when we visited. However, on my previous trip, the boat was even smaller but the water was super calm – I guess its luck! The boats get very close to Seal Island, but you cannot actually walk around on the island. The views to and from Seal Island are excellent. Try to sit out side if you can.
On a weird note, next to the boats boarding for Seal Island is a seal that does tricks on command for fish. To me, this was really weird and seemed like not tin the seal’s best interest. The seal also tried to bite a child who attempted to pet it. Be warned, and maybe avoid encouraging this behavior.
FISH & CHIPS AT HOUT BAY
Aside from visiting Seal Island, Hout Bay is well known for its string of super casual (like fast food casual) seafood restaurants and tourist shops. And, excitingly, this is where we were finally (!!!) having lunch! I was super pumped for this, as I had wanted to eat at Hout Bay on our last trip but it was too early during our visit and we had lunch plans. We followed our guide’s suggestion and walked over to The Seafood Bistro for a takeaway lunch of fish and chips, fried calamari, a veggie sandwich for me and a Sahara hard cider. The food was quite good and also inexpensive. We did a small but of souvenir perusing after, but we didn’t find anything fantastic to bring home.
For those planning to eat at Hout Bay, there are many seafood takeaways here and to me, they all looked similar. Do your research in advance to find the best one. There are also lots of people selling tourist trinkets, balloons and cotton candy to children in the area. Be prepared if you are visiting with children.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Day Trippers Bicycle and Hiking Tours: I have done this tour twice (this time private and once previously with a group) and I cannot recommend it enough. The particular tour that we did on this trip is the “Private Cape Point & Peninsula with Biking and Hiking tour.” The cost included pick up and drop off at our hotel, bike rental and helmets, and a tour guide for the whole day. We paid around $160 USD per person at the time of the tour. Lunch, entrance to Boulders Beach and the ferry to Seal Island were not included.
Boulders Beach: Here is a link to Table Mountain National Park, of which Boulders Beach is a part. This website has information on opening hours and prices of Boulders Beach – just navigate to the “Boulders” tab. When we visited, entry to Boulders Beach was around $10 USD per non South African visitor (local get discounted rates).
Cape Point: Here is the Cape Point website with information on times and prices. Cape Point is in a national park and it costs around $20 USD per non South African adult to enter the park. Be sure to check times, etc., as the park’s opening hours vary depending on the season.
Seal Island (Duiker Island) cruise from Hout Bay: Here’s a link to one company running the tours with times, etc. We purchased tickets on the spot but advance purchase is probably best during busy season.
The Seafood Bistro: Located in the thick of Hout Bay seafood stands. No website, but here’s the sign: