False Bay has an intriguing history of naval battles, pirate visits and the establishment of scenic little seaports all along its shores. It is also one of the most beautiful bays in the world, and seems to cater for everyone’s holiday needs, offering adventure, leisure, bright lights and great food.

Did you know?

False Bay was so named more than 300 years ago because sailors confused it with Table Bay.

False Bay takes in a long, swooping curve of the southern Cape coastline from Cape Point to Hangklip, and is generally regarded as one of the great bays of the world.

Although your drive around False Bay will take you through many little seaside villages, each with its own special main street, the natural beauty of this bay is still intact.

It’s a world of looming crags and cliffs, mountain passes, lots of beaches (some secluded, others wide and panoramic), and an ocean full of great white sharks, visiting southern right whale pods, seals and fish, including snoek, which is popular to eat. On the mountain slopes, sometimes within spitting distance from homes, troops of wily Peninsula baboons roam, while kestrels, hawks and buzzards fly in the skies above.

Possibly the most iconic wildlife picture anyone has of False Bay, however, is the series of African penguin clusters on Boulders Beach at Simon's Town. These dauntless little ‘waddling tuxedos’ have become unofficial ambassadors for this part of the Cape and welcome hundreds of visitors along their special boardwalk each day.

Mention False Bay and the traveller’s mind’s eye will immediately conjure up images of the multi-coloured bathing boxes of Muizenberg, the after-dark delights of Kalk Bay’s restaurants and bars, and the unsurpassed view of Simon’s Town Harbour from the heights above.

Many visitors choose to come to False Bay via the train from Cape Town, alighting at Simon’s Town and spending the day along its Historical Mile. This is where one gets the true naval spirit of the Cape, in the guise of museums, crusty old pubs and droves of navy uniforms in the streets.

In the ‘old days’ of sail, Simon’s Town was where you would go to pick up tales of the sea, news of pirate shenanigans or British Navy arrivals. An hour spent in the Simon’s Town Museum will convince you that life here 200 years ago was colourful, dramatic and often quite short – especially if you were a buccaneer.

Hikers and overlanders gather at Cape Point and walk up to the old lighthouse before lunching at a nearby restaurant or having a braai (barbecue) at one of the designated spots along the way.

One can travel the short distance between Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town by water taxi, or try one of the many adventure companies’ trips out to Seal Island. This is known as the best place in the world to see a great white shark breaching in mid-air.

Gentler souls might prefer the literary delights of Kalk Bay Books or a drink down the road at the Brass Bell.

Travel tips & Planning info

Related articles