Located at the tippy top of the Cape Peninsula, Simon’s Town in Cape Town has a rich naval history and a quaint charm that sees it added to many a tourist must do list, but most just pass right through after a trip to see the penguins at Boulders, or a visit to Cape Point. Not many stop to spend time in this seaside town… But there are so many more things to do in Simon’s Town than initially meet the eye – or make the list!
This little village has so much more to offer and there is a local saying that says that those who live in Simon’s Town never leave… perhaps with good reason. I know I struggle to tear myself away every time I spent some treasured time in Simon’s Town!
To entice you to plan a day trip or spend a weekend in this part of the Peninsula my guest writer, Janine, is sharing her 10 reasons to visit Simon’s Town…
Top 10 Things to do in Simon’s Town
1. See the penguins at Boulders
Spending time with these little birds in their tuxedo suits is probably the number one reason why people visit Simon’s Town. Here towering granite boulders provide the perfect backdrop to photographing the black and white African penguins that call Boulders home. After paying a small conservation fee you can walk along the board walk to see the penguins close up but be careful not to try and touch them, not only is it unethical, but they do bite!
2. Go snorkeling with seals
One of my favourite activities to do in Simon’s Town is to go snorkeling with seals. Pisces Divers operates a slick operation where you are taken out on a boat to a spot where seal sightings are guaranteed. Spending time with the seals in their natural habitat is an experience like no other. The pups are extremely playful and are not afraid to give you the eyeball, come in for a closer look or shoot clean out the water in an acrobatic display. Dubbed the dogs of the sea, snorkeling with seal youngsters is akin to spending some time playing with the cheekiest of puppies!
3. Discover some of the best B&Bs Cape Town has to offer
Simon’s Town offers a quaint maritime charm that extends through to its accommodation offerings. Here you can stay in an old boarding school, enjoy some of the most spectacular sea views from your bedroom or wine and dine with your host for the evening. One of my favourite guesthouses in Simon’s Town is the aptly named William French. Owner run and managed, William himself will cook you up a storm in his own kitchen and his multi-course breakfasts and dinners are the highlight of a stay. It’s this personal touch that really sets a visit to Simon’s Town apart.
4. Take a step back in time
Steeped in decades of naval history, Simon’s Town offers you the chance to step back in time to a different era. Visit Jubilee Square where the statue of the famous dog and able seaman, Just Nuisance, sits. Alternatively take a hike up the flight of steep steps to the grave of this much-loved pooch. Back in town a visit to the naval museum offers a plethora of history in all things boat. Alternatively just take an amble around town and you’ll notice that the history of the area is everywhere – from the interesting plaques dotting the town’s walls with pictures of yesteryear to an old naval pub that is still frequented by the salty sea dogs that call Simon’s Town home.
5. Indulge in delicious fish and chips
Talking of Salty Sea Dogs, the fish and chips from the restaurant that takes this name are a must try when in Simon’s Town. This local institution has expanded in recent years but the delicious fresh fish and vinegar dripping slap chips are still worth every penny. Give the restaurant a skip and rather head out onto the nearby jetty with your food. With your legs dangling over the edge, here you can sit and enjoy the authentic atmosphere of the harbour while batting away seagulls and watching the tide roll in.
6. Play in the rockpools
Drive past the Simon’s Town golf course and along the winding road that follows the peninsula and you will soon discover many a desert beach. Stop for a while and here you will discover some of the best rock pools on the Cape coast. Keep a keen eye out for starfish and octopus as you waddle in the shallows. The secluded tidal pool on the far side of Miller’s Point may just be Cape Town’s best kept secret – it even has a slide for the little ones!
7. Discover hidden beaches
As mentioned, Simon’s Town has many a desert beach just waiting to be discovered. The water may be colder than their Clifton counterparts but even in summer you won’t be hard pressed to find a beach that you can enjoy all to yourself. About 15 minutes out of Simon’s Town on the road to Cape Point you will find Smitswinkel Bay. Here a long walk down the cliff side gets you to a long stretch of sandy beach that is regularly enjoyed by the residents of the few off the grid houses found here, but is known by few others!
8. Walk to the waterfall
There are a number of great walks and hikes around Simon’s Town but my favourite and perhaps one of the easiest, is the walk to the waterfall. Starting at the Shell petrol station in town this walk takes you through the houses before onto the mountain where you can follow a flat, easy path to the waterfall. As the hike should take no more than 20 minutes you can easily take a picnic along. Go just after it has rained if we want to enjoy the best sighting of the fall.
9. Go sailing
It should come as no surprise that Simon’s Town is a great sailing destination. The yacht club here is a vibrant place with regular locals propping up the bar and dotting the restaurant. Talk to the club to see if anyone needs crew or if they are hosting any training events to enjoy a day out on the water. Alternatively there are some charter companies that offer short sails or day trips out to seal island and Gordon’s Bay.
10. Sea creatures galore
The waters surrounding Simon’s Town are awash with the ocean’s megafauna. Diving fanatics flock to the area to chance to dive with the rare seven gill cow shark and between the months of June and November southern right whales can regularly be spotted. Book on a boat trip to see the whales up close or just spend a couple of leisurely hours at a restaurant and enjoy the show from the shoreline. Dixie’s Restaurant located between Simon’s Town and Glencairn is located in an enviable position for watching the whales.
So when last did you pay a visit to Simon’s Town? Maybe it’s time to change that!