This pretty coastal town is South Africa’s main naval base and consists of lovely Victorian buildings, quaint streets and walkways and a fascinating history. Simon’s Town is a little further along the False Bay coast from Muizenberg towards Cape Point, and is some 40km from Cape Town, which means it’s a great destination for day trips from the Mother City – either by car or by train.
Named after the governor of the Dutch settlement, Simon Van Der Stel, who arrived in the Cape in 1679, Simon’s Town is South Africa’s third-oldest settlement. The governor chose it as a safe alternative to the stormy Cape coast during the turbulent winter months.
Simon’s Town is steeped in history, and a visit to Simon’s Town Museum, +27 (0)21 786 3046, to get your bearings is a must. The Old Residency was built for the governor of the Dutch East India Company and in its heyday included a brothel and slave quarters. One of the most popular exhibits at the Simon’s Town Museum is a statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a beer-drinking great dane which was adopted by the Royal Navy in World War II.
Next door, you’ll find the South African Naval Museum, +27 (0)21 787 4686, which celebrates the naval history of Simon’s Town with displays of the inside of a submarine and a ship’s bridge that moves with a simulated rocking motion.
Enjoy the well-preserved Victorian buildings as you wander down the town’s Historical Mile along St George’s Street.
Just off St George’s Street, you’ll find Jubilee Square, where friendly cafés and quirky shops abound. Photograph the famous statue of Just Nuisance and visit the nearby Quayside Mall which overlooks the harbour, from where boats depart regularly on trips to Seal Island and False Bay.
Within walking distance of Jubilee Square you’ll find Seaforth, one of the best swimming beaches in Simon’s Town. There’s also a beach-side restaurant which is a perfect spot for enjoying sundowners. Long Beach is another option; it’s not great for swimming but is a good place to take a long walk.
Boulders is Simon’s Town’s most famous beach, with its colony of about 3000 African penguins. This exquisite beach contains huge, rounded rocks (hence the name “Boulders”), and there are numerous coves and rock pools that beg to be explored.
Find out about the penguin colony at the visitors’ centre (at the entrance gate to Boulders Beach), but please note there is an entry fee to spend time with these endearing yet endangered sea birds.
Did you know?
One of the most popular exhibits at the Simon’s Town Museum is a statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a beer-drinking great dane which was adopted by the Royal Navy in World War II.
The Southern Suburbs are a tourist’s delight. The area, which stretches from the slopes of the Table Mountain range to the False Bay coast, offers natural attractions and a vibrant nightlife.
Just a little further on from Cape Town’s well-known Muizenberg beach is St James. Home to a cluster of well-known and oft-photographed bathing boxes on the beach, St James is a picturesque area that offers beachgoers respite from the westerly wind.
Only 18km from the Cape Town city centre, an arc of fine white sand gives away the secluded location of one of Cape Town’s most beautiful beaches, Llandudno.
The Macassar Dunes Project is located on the Cape Town coast adjacent to Macassar and Khayelitsha and is bounded by the Eerste River, Baden Powell Drive and False Bay.
For a tourism experience with a difference, visit the West Coast Ostrich Show Ranch. This family-owned ostrich business includes informative tours.
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