Scenic Hout Bay is a lively coastal town with a lovely swimming beach and a picturesque harbour where you can buy the best fish and chips in the world.
The pretty town lies in a protected bay between Chapman’s Peak and Mount Sentinel. Getting there is an easy drive from the city centre. Apart from its scenic beauty, Hout Bay is well known for its fishing prowess and is the epicentre of Cape Town’s crayfish industry.
Hout Bay residents are so passionate about where they live, that there is a secessionist movement from the Mother City – look out for the tongue-in-cheek “Republic of Hout Bay” bumper stickers on locals’ cars.
Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Cape, gave the bay its name way back in 1652, when he first arrived. “Hout Bay” means “Wood Bay” – named after the dense forests that characterised the area at the time.
A good place to get your historical bearings is the Hout Bay Museum (+ 27 21 790 3270), which has exhibits on the early strandlopers (hunter gatherers), who lived in the Cape when the first Europeans arrived, as well as memorabilia relating to the early fishing industry.
Afterwards, browse in the Hout Bay Craft Market, where you can pick up a range of curios made locally and from further north.
Kids of all ages will love the World of Birds, which has more than 3000 birds housed in its large aviaries. There are also many small animals that call the place home – make sure you visit the walk-in monkey jungle, for example.
For great views of the bay enjoy a cruise to Duiker Island, also called Seal Island – a large seal colony – with Circe Launches, Drumbeat Charters or Nauticat Charters. (The Seal Island in Hout Bay, however, is not to be confused with the larger Seal Island in False Bay, where great white sharks are sometimes spotted.)
Enjoy some of the freshest seafood at the Mariner’s Wharf. The area was South Africa’s very first maritime harbour-front emporium. More than 25 years old, popular Mariner’s Wharf includes the 350-seater restaurant, the Wharfside Grill, fast-food seafood bistro, the Wharfette Bistro, a fish market, sushi bar, bakery, nautical gift and curio shops and a nautical antique shop.
Mariner’s Wharf is steeped in local Hout Bay fishing history and patrons can look forward to enjoying the authentic harbour-side ambience. The restaurants offers excellent fish dishes and there is always an abundance of prawns and calamari on the menu.
Although the water off Hout Bay beach is a little colder than Muizenberg or Simon’s Town, the beach is wide, flat and child-friendly, and the water is not too cold for swimming, especially on a hot summer’s day.
If you’re a keen walker, the beaches around Hout Bay are wonderful for long strolls, and The Sentinel is a popular climb. Adventure lovers might also enjoy kayaking, mountain biking, fishing charters and jet-skiing – all available in the Hout Bay area.
In terms of accommodation, you’re spoilt for choice in Hout Bay – there are apartments, guest houses and bed and breakfasts. There are a number of guesthouses in the area. (Search our accommodation database for more details.)
There are lots of restaurants, shops and pubs in this vibrant little town, and although Hout Bay is something of a sleepy fishing village, the nightlife is hot and happening, especially during peak season.
- Phone: +27 21 791 8380
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Enjoy a drive to a tasting experience with a difference, learn to cook African style and wash it all down with some delicious wine.
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