Travel Like a Local: Your Neighbourhood Guide to Simon's Town
Simon’s Town is one of South Africa’s oldest towns, situated 35km outside Cape Town. This neighbourhood is renowned for its rich maritime history and is home to the South African Navy, which holds a festival in the town every April. Simon’s Town is really an attraction in its own right, and you will need to set a full day to fully explore it.
Simon’s Town is known for it’s gorgeous beaches, rich history, and the colony of African penguins that call it home. Quaint buildings line the historical mile from the train station to Jubilee Square, against the backdrop of mountains with innumerable picturesque hiking trails. The coast hugs the main drag, and a walk along the mile offers spectacular sea views and the chance to spot calving whales between June and November. Along the way you’ll find fantastic restaurants, craft markets, and pleny to do with kids. There are also many activities on offer for the more adventurous at heart. Read on to find out our top recommendations for dining, accommodation, adventure, history, and more!
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Where to eat and make merry
One Three Six Restaurant
One Three Six Restaurant is conveniently located in Harbour Bay, in a brand new location. They’re the go-to place for locally sourced free-range and organic products. Their burgers are particularly popular, but be sure to save space for their desserts.
Salty Sea Dog
If you’re looking for takeaways or a sit-down meal, look no further than the Salty Sea Dog restaurant. Salties is Simon’s Town institution and conveniently located on the water’s edge at the Simon’s Town jetty and harbour. Pop in and enjoy your meal at one of the wooden tables, or dangle your feet over the edge of the dock.
Relaxed, warm, and informal with a cosmopolitan appeal, Bertha’s is a favourite place for visitors to pass a few leisurely hours. It’s bustling by day and a great place to enjoy a long, lazy lunch, cocktails at sunset out on the terrace, or be swept away by the sheer romance of the restaurant at night. Berthas Restaurant fronts the old Town Pier and boasts picturesque views of the yacht harbour and over False Bay.
Monocle and Mermaid
M&M prides itself on fantastic coffee, beer, and burgers. Their breakfasts menu features such delights as banana bread French toast, an all-day option, and build-your-own-breakfast menu. Don’t skip the chorizo burger for lunch.
This is a modern European-style eatery that serves mouth-watering seafood dishes, along with favourites like burgers and full breakfasts. It is accessible to the local market in a comfortable, contemporary setting and it also has an outdoor area with sea and harbour views.
Black Marlin Restaurant
The Black Marlin has earned a reputation for its seafood, award-winning wine list, attentive service, and incredible views. House specialities include Cape Rock lobster, Seafood platter, oysters, and mussels. This restaurant is located just outside of Simon’s Town on the road to Cape Point, but it’s well worth a slight detour.
Where to play
Don’t miss out on a stroll along and great views of this beautiful town. From hiking and animal spotting to the beach and cycling, here’s what you need to see while in Simon’s Town.
The famous Boulders Beach is home to a large colony of African penguins and a popular tourist attraction. Spend the day watching penguins or swim in the safe, sheltered, warm waters (by Cape Town’s standards).
Whale View Manor Day Spa
Let time and the world pass you by while you spoil and pamper yourself in an oasis of tranquillity. Whale View Manor is conveniently situated on the main street of Simon’s Town and offers locals and visitors to the town a luxurious haven to relax and unwind.
Simon’s Town Ghost Walk
If you’re brave enough, join Simon’s Town Ghost Walk for a spooky evening adventure in the haunted village of Simon’s Town. The two-hour walk takes in the Old Burial Grounds, and you’ll hear tales of the strange occurences throughout Simon’s Town’s history.
False Bay Yacht club
The False Bay Yacht Club offers sailing, angling, and fun for the whole family. Set sail and have a wonderful adventure in one of the most beautiful settings in the world!
Cycle Cape Point
Join one of Simon’s Town passionate guides to show you hidden highlights of the Cape’s beautiful peninsula. Trips are customizable and popular routes include Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope National Park. Be sure to watch for Penguins, Whales, Dolphins and free-roaming Ostrich, Zebra, Bontebok and Baboons.
Mineral World Scratch Patch
Mineral World Scratch Patch is a fantastic way to spend a day with kids. Enter a pit of gorgeous polished gemstones and fill a bag with your favourites to take home, or visit the Mineral World shop for an incredible range of gemstone item, from affordable souvenirs to collector’s items and investment gems.
The most affordable entertainment you’re likely to find is at the neighbourhood’s museums. The Simon’s Town Museum, SA Naval Museum, and Warrior Toy Museum have collections that will have you reminiscing about the area’s golden days.
Just Nuisance Grave
The grave of this very famous dog is at the top of Red Hill in Simon’s Town and a frequent stop for visitors. While it is a tough climb up the steps to the top, the view is well worth it. The mountain steps begin on Barnard Street and lead up to the Navy Signals area where the grave is located. You’ll also find an impressive bronze statue of the dog on Jubilee Square.
South African Naval Museum
The South African Navy Museum in Simon’s Town is managed jointly by the South African Navy and the South African Naval Heritage Trust. We recommend this museum it has a lot of Naval exhibits, collections, and very interesting facts and knowledge both for old and young. You can visit free of charge.
Warrior Toy Museum
Set in St George’s Street, this museum houses a permanent display of 4,000 model cars, 500 dolls and teddy bears, miniature dolls’ houses and rooms, two fully operating miniature railroads, lead soldier displays, Meccano, ships, and many other miscellaneous toys and models. The museum also has a sales section for collectors.
Simon’s Town walking history tours
Join Jolene on an incredible in-depth tour, which shines a new light on Simon’s Town. Visited the Cape Malay Museum and discover how slavery shaped the Cape, under the guidance of an expert tour guide with many years of experience. The tour is geared towards helping you reflect not only on the past, but the present social and political context of the Cape.
Simon’s Town is all about the outdoors. There are endless ways to fulfil your sense of adventure in Simon’s Town, but here are a few highlights.
Veld and Sea
Earn your meal on an amazing foraging adventure with Veld and Sea. Learn how to identify edible plants, how to harvest them, and how to prepare them for a delicious meal. From wild mushrooms to seaweeds and shellfish, edible weeds and flowers, to roots, shoots and more – every season has its own particular flavour.
Cape Point is one of the most beautiful promontories on the planet, and an essential stop on any Cape Town itinerary. Take the Flying Dutchman Funicular up to the lighthouse for some of the best views you’ll ever see, explore the stunning indigenous fynbos vegetation, and meet the critters that call it home.
Just above the Boulders Beach and Seaforth area is a fantastic hike up to the blockhouse and further on to the top is Black Hill/Swartkop which is the big mountain above Boulders. This hike takes you through some gorgeous fynbos to the blockhouse, and from there it is signposted to Swartkop. The round trip takes around 2 to 3 hours.
Get under the surface with some amazing diving experiences with Pisces Divers. From diving with seals and sharks to exploring wrecks, there’s something for every kind of diver.
Kayak Cape Town
A 2-hour long kayak trip around Simon’s Town is a perfect way to experience the picturesque coastline. We suggest taking this novel way to visit the penguins at Boulders, one of our city’s biggest drawcards and see other marine life while you’re at it. What better way to visit them than on a kayak?
If you’re an avid twitcher, look no further than Avian Leisure, who does guided tours of the birdlife and other wildlife around False Bay. They also offer all kinds of fauna and flora-based tours around the whole of the Cape.
Simon’s Town Boat Company
A cruise to Cape Point with Simon’s Town Boat Company offers everything from whales (in season) and exploring ocean caves, to stunning cliff faces and the most spectacular view of Cape Point from offshore. You will see many different bird species or may even meet up with a pod of dolphins. Captain Glen Knox, featured in the neighbourhood video above, is one of the highly qualified people guiding these adventures.
Big Blue Fishing Charters
Join one of the dedicated and professional skippers and fishing guides from Big Blue Fishing Charters for the ultimate fishing experience. Enjoy a range of inshore game fishing, reef fishing, and of course, fishing for big game. These Charters are based in the beautiful Simon’s Town.
Shark Cage Diving in False Bay is a popular activity, an area made famous by the spectacular hunting behaviour of its white sharks. There are many service providers who can take you on an adventure into shark-infested water, with activities ranging from cage or scuba diving to breaching and predation tours. African Shark Eco-Charters, Apex Shark Expeditions, Pisces Divers, and Shark Explorers are all accredited organisations offering a variety of shark-based activities. Read more about shark diving and see a full list of operators here.
Where to stay
Simon’s Town is home to a huge number of gorgeous accommodation options. Here are a few of our favourites.
Boulders Beach Lodge & Restaurant
Boulders Beach Lodge and Restaurant is a guest house located right near the famous Boulders Beach, just a stone’s throw from the African penguin colony. It offers gorgeous views of False Bay.
Bosky Dell Guest House
Bosky Dell is a nature lover’s paradise situated above Boulders Beach, which is home to the African penguin colony. The beautiful, spacious garden leads to a beach walkway among massive granite boulders that emerges in a sheltered sandy cove.
Central Hotel Guesthouse
The Central Hotel Guesthouse is located on the Simon’s Town historical mile, in a building which itself has a rich and varied history. There are six tastefully decorated en-suite rooms. The restaurant has a large outside balcony with views over Simon’s Town harbour.
Lord Nelson Inn
The Lord Nelson is located an easy amble from the village centre. It is recently refurbished, with modern, chic fittings. Only 10 rooms are available so it’s perfect for a peaceful break. Accommodation is on a bed and breakfast basis, and you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss a sundowner at Emily’s Bar or a morning coffee in the elegant Hardy’s Club Lounge.
The Cheriton Guesthouse is located in a century-old home overlooking False Bay and the naval town below. The penguin colony at Boulders is just a short stroll away, and there are frequent sightings of local fauna, including porcupines! Enjoy their spa, jacuzzi, and pool deck, and use the telescope on the viewing deck to spot whales and dolphins.
Felsensicht Holiday Home
Enjoy a quiet break in the heart of Simon’s Town at Felsensicht, a 4-star holiday home in the historic port of the village. It’s also just two minutes from Fisherman’s Beach, where you can cool off or catch a tan. There are three rooms to choose from, and a communal braai (barbeque) area where you can enjoy a sundowner and cook on the fire.
Rocklands Bed And Breakfast
Rocklands Bed & Breakfast is set on a hill overlooking False Bay, approximately 150 metres from the sea, and ideally situated where you can enjoy the beauty of the ocean, do some bird watching, or explore indigenous fynbos. It is a peaceful getaway, allowing visitors a complete escape just a short walk from one of the best swimming beaches in the Cape Town.
Set high against the mountain slopes of Simon’s Town, Grosvenor Guesthouse boasts incredible views of False Bay and the historical Simon’s Town harbour. There are 12 luxurious en-suite sea facing rooms, and the guesthouse is within walking distance of Simon’s Town village, quayside, the naval base, the penguins, and beaches.
Mariner Guest House
At the Mariner Guesthouse, you can choose from eight elegant en-suite rooms, kitted out with all the comforts of home. There’s also a gym, and it’s walking distance from all the lovely shops and attractions of the Simon’s Town village.
Moonglow Guest House
Moonglow Guesthouse is named after the way the moon reflects off the still waters of the bay every evening from the viewing deck. The idyllic location is perfect for spotting whales and dolphins, especially from September to November. There are six en suite rooms in the guesthouse, each with unique character and furnished with all the amenities you’ve come to expect for a comfortable stay.
A Boat House
A Boat House is set in the beautiful Red Hill Mountains overlooking False Bay in Simon’s Town and is perfect for a holiday. It offers superb views over the harbour, near the Boulders Beach, and is the ideal base for shark cage diving and whale-watching. It’s also only a short stroll from the village. This coastal hideaway is a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Simon’s Town Guest House
Simon’s Town Guest House is a beautifully designed guest house taking full advantage of the sweeping views of False Bay. Situated in the quiet mountainside suburb of Cairnside, only 5 minutes drive from the centre of Simon’s Town, this haven offers complete relaxation close to nature yet within easy reach of the city.
Ask a local
Nobody knows Simon’s Town better than a local. When you’re in town, head to our Visitors’ Information Centre in Simon’s Town for tips on enjoying this lovely area.
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