Updated: Jan 24
Nested in a valley on the Atlantic Seaboard, and halfway between Cape Town and Cape Point, you will find the picturesque town of Hout Bay - one of Cape Town’s most popular tourist attractions often referred to as ‘The heart of Cape Town’.
Where did the name come from?
Dutch settlers who had set out to explore the bay behind Table Mountain, discovered a densely wooded region (which, later became the primary source of timber used for repairing ships and for buildings such as the Castle of Good Hope) and called the area Houtbaai, meaning quite literally, Wood Bay. However, wood was not the only valuable commodity to come out of 'the bay' but fishing as well, and today you can enjoy some of the best fish and chips at the town’s harbour!
A little bit about the bay
Visitors can look forward to a host of activities, such as boat trips to Seal Island, the World of Birds, a vibey weekend market, beach walks while the sun rises and sets, pony rides and pottery, kayaking and surfing, and a quirky collection of cafes and stores. Having originally started out as a farm, the area still has a somewhat 'farmy' atmosphere but has since been divided into residential homes, equestrian properties, retirement villages, businesses, and the townships of Imizamo and Hangklip. The famous Chapman’s Peak drive is situated between Hout Bay and Noordhoek (another seaside town located on the Cape Peninsula) offering dramatic views of the bay.
Duiker Island, also known as Seal Island because of the thousands of Cape fur seals that inhabit it, can be experienced from the Hout Bay Harbour where family-friendly boat trips depart. Species of birds and fish may also be spotted in these waters and occasionally whales, sharks, dolphins, and penguins, if you are lucky! This is a great trip to include on a Cape Peninsula Day Tour.
Cost: R130 Adults/ R70 Children/ 2 years and under free
Estimated time required: 40 minutes
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday/ Opens at 08h30/ weather dependent
Photograph by World of Birds
World of Birds
A nature lover’s paradise, the World of Birds offers visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with 400 species of birds and small animals in a canopied haven of walkways and aviaries. From Eagles, Egrets and Emus, to Finches, Flamingoes and Francolins, the World of Birds has it all, including a Monkey Jungle that you can enter for a unique Squirrel Monkey Experience!
Cost: R 130 Adults/ R 50 Children (3-16)/ 3 years and under free/ R85 Pensioners and Students (with card)
Estimated time required: 1 hour
Opening hours: Mon to Sun : 9:00 - 17:00/ (latest entry 16:00)/365 days of the year
Photograph by Bay Harbour Market
Bay Harbour Market
As the name suggests the market is situated in the harbour, and offers ‘Eats, Beats & Arts & Crafts’. This is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir or two, sit down to a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner, and listen to local bands and artists doing their thing!
Estimated time required: As long as you need
Opening hours: Friday 5pm – 9pm: Saturday & Sunday – 9.30am – 4pm
Other points of interest: Valley Riding Centre; Clay Café; Orange Kloof Hike; Hout Bay Beach; Dunes Restaurant; Mariner’s Whalf; Suikerbossie Restaurant; Chapman’s Beach Drive
Places to stay: Hout Bay Manor; Chapman’s Peak Hotel; Hout & About Guesthouse; MooiBaai Guesthouse; Victorskloof Lodge
Hout Bay is a 25 minute drive from Cape Town city center and 45 minutes from Cape Town International Airport
Hout Bay Organised; Accessed 22 Jan 2023; www.houtbay.org
South African History Online; Accessed 22 Jan 2023; www.sahistory.org.za/place/hout-bay-atlantic-seaboard-western-cape