When renting a beach villa in Cape Town its all too easy to give in to the temptation to stick to the beach itself. With every beach postcard pretty, the long stretches of white sand and wildly crashing seas have an undeniable lure… but there’s so much more to do in Cape Town than just gaze at the ocean, whichever ocean you are looking at.
Take Hout Bay, if you can ignore the tempting cluster of restaurants serving fish dishes straight from the harbor, avoid the shops and ice cream parlors then why not jump on a boat cruise to Seal Island. You can book in advance or just turn up and take the next boat. For 50 rand you can sail out past the Sentinel to the rocky islands the seals call home. You’ll get a fantastic view of the coast all the way from Llandudno towards Noordhoek and Kommetjie and if you pick a glass bottom boat, you can look for great whites or at least seals on the way back.
Feeling more energetic? Then why not hire a bike and cycle up Chapmans Peak, renown as one of the best and most beautiful coastal drives in the world. Not feeling that fit, then Pedego (www.pedego.co.za) will hire you a electric bike to help you get up the steep bits.
Once you’ve made it to Noordhoek, on the other side of Chappies, why not stop off at Cape Point Vineyards for a wine tasting or a spot of lunch. The panoramic view from Noordhoek all the to Cape Point is the perfect accompaniment to a glass of locally produced wine.
Noordhoek itself is home to a 10-kilometre stretch of pure white sand beach. Scattered with riding schools, why not try a beach hack? Reasonably priced at 400 rand for 2 hours, nothing can beat cantering towards the Kakapo shipwreck, at the end of the beach, for a giddying sense of holiday freedom.
At the far end of Noordhoek beach sits Kommetjie, favoured by those in the know for surfing. Waves roll in close to shore and make it reasonably safe for inexperienced surfers or body boarders. Slangkop Lighthouse towers above the small village, a boardwalk starts beneath the lighthouse and meanders over the dunes and towards the ocean and is a wonderful spot for a walk.
Hiking is fantastic in Kommetjie, why don’t you try the Block House walk departing from the back of the Catholic Church. An easy climb you are well rewarded when reaching the top with views all the way back to Hout bay. Earnest hikers could consider the 97 km Hoerikwaggo Trail, it runs all the way from Cape Point to Cape Town and goes through Kommetjie. It takes five days to complete the entire trail, but you could opt to do part of it. Watch out for Baboons that populate this area, largely to the annoyance of residents.
Travelling further along the Cape towards Cape Point you’ll encounter Witsands beach, a blinding white curve of soft sands. The wind can whistle up a storm here and is favoured places for kite surfing, (hire a board from Surfstore Africa in Muizenberg) or come in the evening, bring a bottle of wine watch the sun sink into the sea.
Misty cliffs is a small preserved conservation village where a walk on the beach to watch for Whales (June to November) is a must.
Mountains covered in local Fynbos shelter Misty Cliffs, and indeed the whole coastline. Fynbos is a local vegetation and one of the most diverse floral kingdoms in the world: of 9000 species of Fynbos, 6200 occur just in a tiny strip of land 100 km by 200 km wide. Walking around Misty Cliffs or anywhere in the South Peninsula look for lowland Fynbos such as the King Protea, Pincushions, Silver Tree and Cone bushes.
Adjoining Misty Cliffs is Scarborough, the last village before you reach Cape Point. Scarborough is a favourite place for Cray fishing. Crayfish are licensed, but you can purchase a license for just 80 rand, and dive for the crustaceans in the Kelp forests along the shore. Diving is with a mask and snorkel only (no scuba) and not for the faint hearted, but what can be more satisfying than getting back to your beach villa in Cape Town and eating food you caught yourself with an ice cold beer.
Situated at the end of the Peninsula, an hour out of Cape Town, and free from light pollution, Scarborough is the perfect place for stargazing. No street lights are permitted and on a clear night the stars of the Southern Hemisphere are truly awe-inspiring, a perfect end to a glorious drive along Cape Towns Atlantic coast.