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  • Writer's pictureLena Erdil

Cape Town - My Travel Tips

Updated: Nov 25, 2018

Cape Town - a bustling city and wilderness paradise at the tip of Africa! A thrilling place to be and for me my chosen training destination during the winter month as it offers some of the best extreme sports conditions one could wish for! For those of you who do not know me, I am a professional windsurfer, World and Vice World champion, I’m Turkish but due to this exciting job of mine I travel the world competing on the World Tour and chasing the wind and waves for my trainings so I am currently more of a ‘nomad of the seas’. When I am not in the Ocean you will find me exploring around the places and cities I go, writing travel articles and now also VLOG’ing about it! Make sure to check out my Youtube Channel to get a closer look! In todays article I would like to take you around the Cape Peninsula telling you about some of my favourite places to visit!

Walking in front of Lionshead

My day starts in Big Bay, located on the West Coast of Cape Town, this is where the wind blows strongest and is also from where you will get the post card view of majestic Table Mountain! The strange flat shape of this mountain is the symbolic icon of the cityso while standing on one of the endless white sand beaches of the the western Cape make sure to take a photo of it and the smaller mountain called Lions head right next to it! Big Bay is a beautiful bay where besides enjoying the view from one of the coffees or restaurants on the bay you can also easily have surfing lessons or rent a Board and wetsuit to paddle out and perhaps enjoy the view from within the ice cold Atlantic Ocean. The waves are usually small on the left side of the bay so if you are a beginner this is where you need to go to paddle out without getting crashed by waves. Beware though like I said Big Bay is on the windy west coast and surfing or paddling is no joy when its windy, so only plan for surfing here in the mornings when the winds are usually calmer. My favourite coffee shop in Big Bay is actually a chain store called KUAI, they make delicious fresh juices and smoothies as well as a great selection of healthy light meals or breakfast! So on your trip around the Cape Peninsula a quick paddle in Bigbay followed by some healthy smoothies or breakfast will be my recommendation of how to start your day in Capetown.

If just by putting your toes in the water you had shivers running down your spine though I advise you to head over to Muizenberg next. Located on the east of the peninsula the water here is a few degrees warmer. The Cape Peninsula is surrounded by 2 different Oceans, Indian and Atlantic and you are now on the Indian Ocean side. Muizenberg is known for its laid back style with many surf shops and is where most people come to swim or learn surfing. The waves here are mellow and the water is warmer so the sea is often busy. Ironically False Bay, the bay where Muizenberg is located, is famous for its population of White Sharks and is actually where National Geographic come to shoot their wildlife images of Great Whites chasing seals most often. At Muizenberg beach and some of the other beaches on the Indian Ocean side there are even shark watch services with different colours of shark flags signalling to people when sharks come in proximity of bathers and surfers .

A red flag - The most serious of all beach warning flags, red flags warn swimmers of serious hazards in the water. One red flag means that the surf is high or there are dangerous currents, or both. Though you can still swim if there is a red flag, you should use extreme caution and go in the water only if you’re a strong swimmer.

A green flag means that the spotting conditions are good and no sharks have been seen. 

A black flag means that the spotting conditions are poor, but no sharks have been seen. 

A white flag with a black shark diagram means that a shark is currently near the beach, and beach users must get out of the water. A siren is sounded and the white flag is raised. 

Muizenberg there is a line of steep cliffs that is very popular as a venue for rock climbing.

The other landmarks of Muizenberg are the coloured wooden beach huts, back in the day people could rent these little houses for shade and a comfortable place to change. Now they are mostly locked up and just serve as tourist photo backdrop.

Located next to Muizenberg is one of my favourite bays on the Cape Peninsula; Kalk Bay. Full of little alternative fashion, coffee and art shops it is a great place to walk around exploring what these shops have on offer and maybe picking up a more alternative souvenir then the standard fridge magnet. The buildings in the area are all build in old colonial style and along this eastern part of the peninsula there runs also a very old school railway with old school stations in every bay. Trains are still running regularly but I have never tried to get on one. My favourite place to eat here is actually located right next to the railway line and is a Restaurant/Bar called “Cape to Cuba” the decoration and location of this place are not to be missed, so even if you are not hungry make sure to plan in a little pit stop here to check it out!

Cape to Cuba Restaurant in Kalkbay

Next up on my personal tourist route will be a visit to see the Penguins of Boulders Beach. Located just past Simons Town a little further South then Kalk Bay it is signposted as ‘Penguin spotting area’ you wont miss it. Park your car and head to the beach to find wild Penguins hanging out on a beautiful beach on a sunny afternoon. It’s the perfect place to take a Penguin selfie, relax on a windless beach and enjoy the view of the eastern Cape Peninsula. The bay is surrounded by big ancient granite boulders, which protect this beach from wind and large waves also making it an ideal swimming spot for kids and an epic backdrop for some more photos . Make sure you walk around a bit here, especially towards the right side of the bay and around the corner you will immediately get away from people and probably end up finding yourself alone on a rock next to a penguin couple facing the Indian Ocean.

Penguins of Boulders Beach

But this is only the beginning of the wilderness feeling. If you keep on driving South a little more you will come to the Cape Town National park where you can visit the most southern tip of Africa surrounded by Baboons (wild African Monkeys) Ostrich and perhaps you will also manage to spot wild game such as Springboks and Kudus. The high light of my visits to this park are always the wild Baboons! I actually go to Cape Point and this park quite often as I love to windsurf here. Last time the baboons jumped onto my car which had my board strapped to the roof and decided that this would be the perfect place to hang out for the next half an hour while everyone else was standing around my car taking photos of this monkey on my board! Another time I forgot to fully close my car Window and a baboon climbed into my car, found some raspberry flavoured surf wax on the backseat and after taking a big bite from it decided to sit on the driver seat for a little while before moving on to explore other cars! So a quick note here, do not leave yoru windows open and definitely don’t eat outside of your car because while you might think monkeys are cute there is actual traffic signs everywhere reminding you that ‘beware- baboons are wild dangerous animals’ and when you do see their teeth they do arguably loose some of their cuteness and are definitely not scarred of people… Windsurfing in Cape point for me represents the pinnacle of the experience of rough unspoiled nature. The waves are more powerful then elsewhere on the peninsula and the water is ice cold but of the most beautiful light blue colour. From the sea, looking back to the shore you can see the white sandy beach, cliffs and unspoiled landscape and although the sun is shining and temperatures are above 25C, the wind is seemingly blowing over from the arctic. It is extremely beautiful but so harsh at the same time, you can feel the force of the elements here more powerful then in most places. 

Windsurf Action at Scarborough Beach

Driving on from Cape Point and touring the Cape Peninsula I would recommend taking the famous scenic route called “Chapmans Peak”. This is a narrow mountain road along the steep cliffs of the southern Peninsula. The Route starts in a small fishing town called Hout Bay and takes you towards Clifton and Camps Bay. It is known as one of the most ‘spectacular marine drives in the world’ and I have to 100% agree with this. Steep cliffs fall into the wild Atlantic ocean and the Road winds on through these cliffs, with plenty of scenic places to stop and take photos or simply take in the breath taking views you get from here!

Spectacular Views at Chapmans Peak Drive

If you have managed to squeeze all this into a long 1 day trip it will now be almost sunset time, the sun sets around 8pm in the summertime. One of the best places to watch the Sunset is from the top of Signal Hill. Signal Hill separates the City Bowl from the suburb of Sea Point, its actually a very popular place for Capetownians to have pikniks while watching the sun set in the atlantic ocean on one side and the city lights slowly light up the city bowl on the foot of Table Mountain on the other! Definitely a great way to end a trip around the Cape Peninsula! Signal hill is also still part of the Cape National park and is great for a casual hike or walk around, especially if you are not up to do some of the more serious hikes up lions head or table mountain.

Sunset at Signal Hill National Park

In Cape Town you can live a vibrant city life full of cultural experiences of the finest quality and within the boundaries of the same city you can also live a life away from society surrounded only by wild nature and the ocean, or you can live it all, every day, at the same time. The alternative stylish places to eat and drink in Cape Town are definitely another of my favourite aspects. Many restaurants and bars are genuinely original which makes them definitely worth a visit. There is a Gin Bar that is a chocolate shop and a gallery at the same time, there is a laundrette that is also a coffeeshop and a postcard shop simultaniously and a bar where you can also get your motorcycle repaired and listen to life music !!! Other things not to be missed would be a visit to the Old Buiscuit Mill in Woodstock. On Saturday mornings there is an amazing fair like vibe with life music and many delicious food stalls with typical gourmet food from all around the world. If you are lucky enough to be in Cape Town on the first Thursday of the month it’s a special occasion in Cape Town where art galleries are open late and the city center transforms into one big street party with bars bringing their dj sets out onto the street and many roads get closed off to traffic. So you can jet from one Gallery to the next looking at some of the latest Art Works while dancing in the street in between! Just make sure you keep your valuables close to you at all times as it is also a popular time for pick pockets, a lot of my friends actually had their phones stolen on this occasion.

Shop for Unique Souvenirs at the Tourist Markets

Cape Town with its unspoiled nature, its diverse culture and its unique flair is definitely a place I strongly recommend to visit. While it is perhaps one of Africa’s most prestigious cities poverty remains visible and there is still a long way to go to eradicate the legacy of apartheid. Staying clear of the township areas however I have always felled safe in this city. I hope my article has made you want to go here it is hard to do justice to a place with so many sights and experiences in one article, so you will just have to go and explore it for yourself to get a more complete image. We each experience cities in different ways and while some might enjoy long walks on the beach, others are more happy going shopping, but having talked to many different people who came to visit I can assure that you will be able to find just what you like. Personally I know I will keep going back to Cape Town and on each visit I still keep discovering new places and experiences that make this place more special to me. 

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