We are always up for an exciting mini holiday… and what better than to escape to this little self-declared “republic”, with its plethora of activities, restaurants, art galleries, breathtaking vistas and seaside holiday vibe?
The community of Hout Bay is full of entrepreneurs and adventurers, and boast pocket-friendly activities for everyone. So let’s reach out and #supportlocal while getting some much-needed refreshment for body and soul.
Top of the Cape Town Bucketlist website’s list is snorkelling with seals off Duiker Island, Hout Bay. This is an amazing opportunity to experience a close encounter with the Cape fur seal in its natural habitat. With a colony of more than 10,000 breeding seals on the island, the chance of swimming alongside some of these “puppies of the ocean” is guaranteed. It is a 2-3 hour experience in which all equipment is provided, including hot drinks and snacks on the boat.
Kayaking is another firm favourite throughout the year. Routes include a coastal cruise, with the chance of encountering whales or dolphins or simply pottering around in Hout Bay’s charming harbour, and even navigating under the concrete jetties, where the sun’s rays create light and shadowplay that forms a different world.
Where: meet at Mojos Restaurant, Hout Bay Harbour
Some of the best local whale and dolphin watching happens right here in Hout Bay. The ‘Humpback Highway’ transits Hout Bay year-round, offering fantastic sightings of these magnificent creatures of the ocean as they feed on the bounty of fish that this region offers.
Every so often, a pod of dolphins can be seen frolicking in the bay, often for hours at a time. Captain Jack’s keeps a 400bhp Gemini commercial powerboat on standby for just such occasions, though they are often spotted by chance too, and Captain Jack’s knowledgeable guides know just what signs to look out for.
Even on a rare quiet day for sealife, Hout Bay is a magical place to view from the water. With the horseshoe curve of the coast all around, and the mountains soaring upwards, to be out on the water with a fresh sea breeze is a tonic for the soul.
When: Monday to Sunday, 8am to 5pm
Where: Captain Jack’s Info Office
The Harbour community, nestled in the base of the Sentinel and Karbonkelberg Mountains, is the starting point for hikes to fascinating points inaccessible to the general public: the legendary stone face guardians, striking lookout views, and the only expedition to Seal Island by foot.
Hiking tours are tailored to your appetite for adventure and can be customised for all fitness levels. With an option of six routes, experiences can begin with a walk through the fishing village or from Chapman’s Peak Drive. There is an energy here – Karbonkelberg’s own particular magic – that has inspired this community to protect and nurture its homes and families amongst these mountains for generations.
Where: Block C3, Hout Bay
A fantastic way to take in the many sights and vistas of Hout Bay is on an electric bike.
No matter your fitness level or ability to cycle, pedal-assisted E-Bikes or eMTBs allow you to experience the most scenic routes in Hout Bay.
Cape Lion E-Bikes offer a wide range of guided tours, including a cultural tour, a history tour and a beautiful scenic tour, and can cater for groups of any size, though participants should ideally be 14 years or older (155cm or taller).
It is also possible simply to hire an E-Bike or eMTB for the day and have the freedom to explore. There is even a self-guided tour that includes a picnic! Whatever you choose, this is bound to be a memorable experience.
Where: 24 Beach Club, Beach Club drive
Expression through art can be both rewarding and invigorating. The Clay Cafe is a longstanding venue popular with adults and children alike. Choose from a vast array of unfired bisque and a wide selection of colourful paints to create crockery that is both personal and completely unique (not to mention fully functional; all items once fired are then ovenproof, dishwasher safe and microwave safe).
Guests at the Clay Cafe can spend a leisurely day painting in a relaxed environment with friendly staff on hand to assist with any painting techniques and ideas.
The Cafe also has a spacious patio that opens out onto a garden where children can entertain themselves, while the adults tuck into a farm-style breakfast or lunch menu before or after their painting experience. Booking is essential.
When: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
Where: 4080 Main Road opposite Bokkemanskloof Estate, Hout Bay
The world-famous Mariner’s Wharf – Africa’s first harbourfront emporium – is a landmark on the #DiscoverHoutBay Route.
Conceptualised and built during the 1980s by Hout Bay’s own Stanley Dorman, this family-owned enterprise exudes a maritime ambience in its restaurants, shops and markets, and has become a unique destination where jet setters, tourists and locals rub shoulders with old salts and venerable fishing captains.
For the more formal experience, the Wharfside Grill is regarded as one of Africa’s most established seafood restaurants, offering not only an authentic harbourside ambience and spectacular bay views, but fabulous lobsters and prawns, and innovations such as Calaprawnia, Houtbaisse and Fisherman’s Baskets.
Although seating more than 350 diners when full, privacy does not take second place. There are also six private dining cabins themed to seafaring history and famous ships.
The Wharfette is Mariner Wharf’s popular takeout option, serving piping-hot alfresco meals on wooden benches right on the wharfside. Its speciality is – of course – fish and chips, but it also offers grilled lobster, prawns, calamari, snoek, surf burgers, lekkerbekkies and combos.
When: Mon to Sun, 9am to 9:30pm
Where: Hout Bay harbour
An Asian Fusion restaurant serving Pacific Rim cuisine, Cheyne’s combines Pacific Island foods, Asian cooking techniques, local freshness, and a host of other cultural and culinary influences.
The menu is divided into Sea, Land, Earth, and Happy Endings and features sharing plates you can order individually or as part of a dining experience. All ingredients are proudly sourced from local suppliers as far as possible, and tattoo-clad, Buddhism-inclined owner, chef Cheyne Morrisby (former chef at the Sir Terence Conrad group of restaurants in London), receives constant rave reviews. Morrisby is also the mastermind behind Lucky Bao, offering Asian street food, and Shio, which focuses on Japanese cuisine.
Recently rated as one of the top 20 fine dining experiences in Cape Town (by I Love Foodies), this melting pot of fusion should be on every foodie’s wish list.
When: Lunch – Thurs to Sat, 12pm to 3pm | Dinner – Mon to Sat, 6pm to 10pm
Where: 35 Main Road, Hout Bay
A visit to Hout Bay would not be complete without a drive on Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the world’s most scenic drives.
The 9km route skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak (593m), which is the southerly extension of Constantiaberg and is a great hike for the energetically inclined.
Affectionately known as ‘Chappies’ this route is a must for anyone passionate about scenery, with sheer drops to the sea below and towering mountains rising above. Likewise, anyone who has an engineering bent will be fascinated by the challenge of creating (and maintaining!) such a road.
The 114 twists and curves in the road offer a continually changing view, and there are a number of stops at which to pull over and get your breath back, take photos or snack on a relaxing picnic. It is a paradise for motorists, sightseers, picnickers, runners, hikers and bikers (both the motorised and the manual varieties).