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HHout Bay is a quaint coastal town about a half-hour's drive from Cape Town, which gets its name from the Afrikaans 'houtbaai', meaning 'Wood Bay'. The area supplied the Dutch colony with wood during the 1650s that was used help build Cape Town. Nowadays, Hout Bay is a tourist hot spot, offering a variety of nature and outdoor activities, great restaurants and pubs, and year-round events, all while still maintaining its small-town feel and hospitality.
According to visitors and locals alike, Hout Bay produces the best fish and chips around. The busy little harbour is used by fishermen to bring in fresh catches, but also services a number of boat tours and charters, including a trip around the bay in a glass-bottom boat. If you are just there to sample the grub, however, Mariner's Wharf, Fish on the Rocks and Snoekies are great places for fish and chips, and offer stunning views of the beach and the surrounding mountains.
TThere are only 3 ways to get to and from Hout Bay (known locally as the Republic of Hout Bay due its sense of uniqueness and individuality), all of which are passes: the Suikersbossie pass, feared by the Cape Town Cycle Tour contestants as the toughest hill in the race; Chapman's Peak, with its spectacular scenery; and the Constantia Nek pass, which lies between Vlakkenberg and the back slopes of Table Mountain. If you're feeling adventurous, you can hike these surrounding mountains – their summits offer great views and photo opportunities.
Hout Bay is also known for its arts and crafts market and quirky shops. The Bay Harbour Market brims with interesting and unusual stalls, selling everything from clothes and crafts to fresh foods. There is also a good line-up of musicians to provide a festive ambience to the whole experience. The market is one of the many family-friendly spots in town; the World of Birds is a definite must-see during a family holiday here, with several species of birds, mammals and reptiles roaming the park.
Hout Bay is not all picturesque seaside village. It is also home to many previously disadvantaged South Africans from low-income families, who have built their houses out of scraps of metal and forged their own community. Imizamo Yethu is situated on a steep slope that flanks the main town, and the township has its own distinct vibrancy. Experience it by booking a cycling tour, guided by one of the friendly locals who live here.
There are a number of accommodation options in the area, ranging from luxury hotels to affordable B&Bs, most of which come with unrivalled views of the mountains and the sea. Stay for a few days, or at the very least, make sure you include Hout Bay as a stop during a tour of the Cape Peninsula.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Cape Town Tourism
Tel: 0861 322 223
How to get here
From Cape Town head towards Camps Bay. In Camps Bay, follow the direction Llandudno/Hout Bay on the M6 (this is the coastal road). Stay on the M6 into Hout Bay.
Best time to visit
With all its pubs and restaurants, Hout Bay is an all-year-round attraction, but summer (November to March) is best for outdoor activities.
Things to do
The surrounding areas, including Chapman's Peak and the Silvermine Nature Reserve, are good for picnics, hiking, photography, running, cycling and whale watching, to name some popular activities.
Take a boat trip to Duiker Island to see the Cape fur seals and other marine wildlife.
What to pack
Pack a picnic to enjoy at one of the tree-side tables at Flamingo Terrace in the World of Birds.
Where to stay
Try Hout Bay Manor or the Chapman's Peak Hotel. There are many B&Bs and self-catering accommodation options in the area.
What to eat
Aside from the proverbial fish and chips, try one of Urban Brewery’s craft beers and ciders whilst eating a German breakfast.