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WWhat began as a source of lime and then whale products has developed into the trendy fishing village of Kalk Bay on the False Bay side of the Cape Peninsula, where today writers, musicians and great restaurateurs have taken the place of whalers, pirates and sea captains.
Shortly after your arrival in the Cape Peninsula hamlet of Kalk Bay, you will feel distinctly Bohemian.
The lure of the good bookshop on the corner, the fresh coffee nearby, the craft stall on the street, the deliciously decadent fish and chips for lunch at the harbour, the mojito sipped at the Cuban-style restaurant at sunset and that late seaside dance party might all have something to do with the way you’re feeling.
Kalk Bay, which lies between Muizenberg and Simon’s Town on False Bay, was first encountered by the Strandlopers (indigenous Khoi people who lived along the coast), who found seafood in abundance. Then came the colonists, in the form of lime workers, who processed the huge stockpiles of seashells into lime (hence the Dutch name ‘kalk’) for the Cape Town market.
The mid-1800s saw the rise of the False Bay whalers, who harvested the large pods of southern right whales that visit annually in search of warmer waters, a place to give birth and a new mate.
The little Kalk Bay community used all manner of whalebone for décor purposes: ribs for garden fences, vertebrae for the walls, shoulder bones for the steps and stairs and jawbones for the entrances of their dwellings.
Interestingly enough, a large Filipino community also sprung up in Kalk Bay, as if from nowhere. Some say the first Filipinos came from a shipwreck, others say they jumped ship in Simon’s Town. Whatever their origins, they sent word home that Kalk Bay was the place to be.
Most of them went back home after the United States took the Philippines from Spain in 1898, and the rest married within the local community and stayed on. They were soon joined by Portuguese, Italians, Afrikaners and Indonesians, who had one thing in common: a love for fishing.
The whalers are long gone, but the wonderful southern rights still visit these waters and show their young off. The fishermen still work down at the harbour, bringing in their fresh catches at noon and selling them off in a delightfully strident manner. You can pick up fresh fish here at great prices.
In the past century, Kalk Bay has taken on a creative character that has made it a favoured residential area for artists, writers, musicians, restaurateurs and nightclub owners. Many of its fine old buildings have been renovated and preserved, and buying a house in Kalk Bay is often a tedious process because no-one wants to leave the place...
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Cape Town Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)86 132 2223
Cape Point Route
Tel: +27 (0)21 789 0093
How to get here
Coming from Cape Town and reaching Muizenberg, you can either approach Kalk Bay along the coastal (Main Road) route or Boyes Drive. The distance between Cape Town central and Kalk Bay is about 30km.
Best time to visit
Summer (November to February) in Kalk Bay is pure seaside fantasy – and even the winters (June to August) are atmospheric.
Things to do
Take the Mellow Yellow water taxi between Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town. It’s a lot of fun and gives you great offshore photographs.
Tours to do
Tour the Cape Peninsula in a motorcycle sidecar with Cape Sidecar Adventures.
Once you’re in Kalk Bay, most of the major sites are well within walking distance.
What will it cost?
Kalk Bay prices are on a par with Cape Town prices and vary according to the quality of service, meal and accommodation.
Length of stay
You should spend at least 2 days in Kalk Bay.
What to pack
Whatever the season, pack something warm for a sudden change in weather or wind.
Where to stay
Accommodation choices are abundant in the Cape.
What to eat
From the excellent Olympia Cafe to the traditional Brass Bell and the spectacular Harbour House Restaurant, most diners opt for the fresh seafood. And don’t forget those fish and chips down at Kalky’s, by the harbour.
Get your ‘catch of the day’ down at the fishing harbour and make your own special Kalk Bay fish barbecue.