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FFalse 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 small seaside villages, each with its own special main street, the natural beauty of this bay remains intact.
It’s a world of looming crags and cliffs, mountain passes, 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, a popular fish 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.
PPossibly 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.
MMention 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 trips out to Seal Island offered by adventure companies. This is known as the best place in the world to see a great white shark breaching in mid-air.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Cape Point Route
Tel: +27 (0)21 789 0093
Cell: +27 (0)82 076 3460
How to get here
You can get to various points on False Bay from Somerset West on the N2, beginning at the Strand, from Pringle Bay on the R44, or from Cape Town on Chapman’s Peak Drive, cutting in at Kommetjie, or come from Cape Town via Tokai and Muizenberg along the M3 and Boyes Drive.
There’s a regular train service from Cape Town to Simon’s Town, or you can hire a car and be free to drive along the entire length of False Bay at your leisure.
Best time to visit
Although the old British Navy ships liked to berth in False Bay in winter (June/July), the warmer months of September to April are best for travellers.
Things to do
Visit Cape Point, part of the Table Mountain National Park.
From township tours to cycle tours to nature tours, False Bay has much to offer. Check the listed websites for tour operators.
What to pack
Pack as if you’re going boating, walking or partying at a friend’s place – informally, and for the outdoors. It can get windy here and it is cold in winter (May to August).
Where to stay
False Bay has wide and varied accommodation options – check the listed Cape Point Route and Cape Town Tourism websites.
What to eat
From fresh snoek at a harbour to fine dining at a world-class restaurant, the villages of False Bay will feed you well. The specialty here is seafood. Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point offers stunning views over False Bay (phone: +27 (0)21 780 9200).
What will it cost
There is lots to see and do in False Bay that is free, such as a visit to the photogenic Kalk Bay Harbour, or to the beautiful beaches of Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. You will need to pay to get into the Cape Point reserve, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park (R105 per adult and R50 per child aged 2 to 11; children under 2 are free).