20 kilometres and a world away from Cape Town’s CBD, the stunning seaside town of Hout Bay has been an ideal hideaway from the city bowl since its establishment by Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Ensconced by mountains on three sides and the Atlantic Ocean on the fourth, Hout Bay wears many hats – surfing mecca, working fishing village, leisurely respite from urbanity – and is well worth some time spent exploring. Enjoy the scenic drive through Constantia Nek to get out here, and then spend a day taking in all that this little slice of unhurried paradise has to offer. Maddy Bazil shares some ideas.
Grab a bite at Bay Harbour Market:
This sprawling, charmingly bohemian market is housed in a converted fish factory in the Hangberg harbour precinct, and the nature of it is such that a melting pot of people from all walks of life – from Hout Bay locals to tourists and beyond – congregate to enjoy the market’s unique brand of energy and creativity. The sheer range of offerings, from food to art to jewellery to décor to antiques, is immense, so do a lap before committing to any of the 125 remarkable vendors. Health-conscious diners will love the juices and smoothies at Dr. Juice, whilst hungrier patrons will thoroughly enjoy the array of omelettes and sandwiches on offer at Bon-Amie. On a balmy weekend day, order your food and beverages to takeaway and grab a seat on a sun-dappled rock or trestle table with a view of the water – if you’re lucky, you might even spot a seal or two frolicking in the whitewater. And don’t forget to check the schedule for the market’s KWV Sound Stage, which features a wide variety of live musical performances on a daily basis and serves as a highly-coveted performance opportunity for up-and-coming musical acts. Performers in the coming weeks include Empire Alight, Purple Cry, Phil Moffett & Amber Liadan, the Bootleggers Blues Band, Moonshine, and Mark Haze. So make a plan to return in the evenings for live music and happy hour (every Friday 5pm to 6pm) where you can buy a 550ml draught and only pay for 330ml, and the house wines are half-price.
Address: 31 Harbour Rd, Hout Bay
Phone: 083 275 5586
Opening hours: Fri 5pm to 9pm | Sat & Sun 9.30am to 4pm
Hike up Chapman’s Peak:
While driving the length of ‘Chappies’ (as the locals call it) is a commonly accepted must-do, Chapman’s Peak isn’t at its best when seen by car but rather on foot. This stunning and underrated peak on the Table Mountain chain is a beautiful, accessible hike, and the summit affords panoramic views over Fish Hoek, Noordhoek, Gordon’s Bay, Cape Point, Kommetjie, and the Constantia Berg. You’ll find a starting sign several minutes’ walk past the toll gate in Hout Bay, near the ticket check point (don’t worry, only motorists need a ticket). Allow yourself 3 to 3.5 hours for a relaxed ascent and descent – including ample time for picture-taking and picnicking – and if you’re clever, you’ll time your descent so that you can catch what is sure to be a phenomenal sunset.
Sip vino in the sunshine at Hout Bay Vineyards:
This family-owned boutique winery puts a keen focus on quality over quantity, sorting and using only the best grapes and making their wine slowly and gently. Founded less than 20 years ago by Peter and Cathy Roeloffze, the lush vineyards are a delight to behold and a far cry from urban hustle and bustle. Don’t miss their bubbly, which is kept for a minimum of 3 years on the lees, and this time of year the red wines are perfect for a chilly winter day. Tastings and sales are appointment-based, and you can learn more at their website.
Address: Grotto Rd, Hout Bay
Phone: 083 790 3303
Opening hours: Appointment only
Swim with seals at Animal Ocean:
Channel your inner child by going snorkeling with Cape Fur seals, the ultimate marine wildlife experience. This is an activity the whole family can enjoy: Animal Ocean accepts clients aged 10-70, and their goal is to share their passion for the ocean and its creatures with clients, providing knowledgeable guides and top equipment in pursuit of an unforgettable experience. Animal Ocean have been running seal snorkeling tours for the past 7 years, and distinguish themselves from the competition by their top rating on TripAdvisor as well as their dry, safe meeting place and post-excursion shower facilities. Duiker Island, on the Atlantic side of the Cape Peninsula, is home to thousands of seals and sits within the Karbonkelberg marine protected area, part of Table Mountain National Park. The seals you’ll see are not trained or fed by humans so they interact with visitors playfully and on their own terms in their natural habitat.
Address: 81 Harbour Rd, Hout Bay
Phone: 072 296 9132
Opening hours: Mon to Sat 8am to 4pm
Warm up with a curry at Dunes Restaurant:
Where better to grab a bite than on the beach itself, surrounded by prime views of Chapman’s Peak? Dunes is open all day for breakfast, lunch, sundowners, and dinner, attracting a wide range of customers: the play area makes it popular with families, and the balcony and terrace are equally popular for sunset-chasers looking to take in the bayside views with a side of good food and friendly service. The extensive menu has something for everyone, but don’t miss the winter curry special which is running through the month of August. As the sun sets and the air gets cooler, chow down on a Durban lamb curry, a vegetable korma, a Cape Malay seafood curry, or any of the other delectable and warming options on offer.
Address: 1 Beach Cres, Scott Estate, Hout Bay
Phone: 021 790 1876
Opening hours: Mon to Fri 11am to 11pm | Sat & Sun 9am to 11pm
Enjoy a pint at Urban Brewing Co:
Billing themselves as a boutique, independent brewery and tap room with attitude, this harbour-side hangout opened its doors in March 2016 and has been producing quality beer made according to time-honoured tradition ever since. ‘Craft in a different class’ is Urban Brewing Co’s motto, and they definitely abide by it: they source their ingredients such as malt and hops from Germany and their water from a natural spring in the Hout Bay mountains, and the brewing process is helped along by the expertise of Master Brewer Jorg Finkeldey, an industry veteran with over 30 years experience. Urban Brewing Co also does not filter or pasteurise their beer, thereby ensuring that they do not lose any flavour. Stay tuned as well for their upcoming Oktoberfest event, the second annual iteration, which will take place on 29 & 30 September & 1 October 2017. Last year’s Oktoberfest saw 1200L of their special FestBier sold over the weekend event. Tickets will be available on Quicket for just R100 per person for a day and this includes your first litre of Festbier free as well as a souvenir mug to take home. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Address: 31 Harbour Rd, Hout Bay
Phone: 021 791 1130
Opening hours: Mon 5pm to 8pm | Tues to Thurs 11am to 8pm | Fri 11am to 11pm | Sat & Sun 11am to 8pm