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Kalk Bay, Cape Town

Cape Town’s Kalk Bay

An alternative side to Cape Town

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16 March 2020 by Rui Ribeiro

You’ve been to the top of Table Mountain, shopped your way along the V&A Waterfront and toured infamous Robin Island. But what’s next? Kalk Bay in greater Cape Town is a small village with a big personality and an ideal stop for those that want something a little different from their South Africa self-drive. As one of the last remaining fishing communities on the Western Cape, and with an eclectic mix of inhabitants that includes both weathered fisherman and famous musicians, there’s a feeling of ease in its bohemian environs.

The train to Kalk Bay, Cape Town
The train to Kalk Bay, Cape Town

As you head beyond the main road and the train line that connects Cape Town to Simon’s Town, you’ll arrive at the bay itself. Full of brightly painted boats fading in the sunshine, the aroma of fresh fish lingers in the air; far from being unpleasant, it’s a comforting reminder of the realness of the place.

Kalk Bay harbour, Cape Town
Kalk Bay harbour, Cape Town

Time here passes slowly and it’s possible to while away many idle hours in pavement cafes, art galleries and co-op shops, where local designers have come together to sell jewellery, clothing and craft. If you spend the night, set your alarm to watch the sunrise, perhaps walking the coastal path to nearby St James where brightly coloured beach huts overlook a sandy bay and rock pools teeming with life. And don’t forget to stroll along Kalk Bay’s harbour wall to watch fishermen returning with their hauls and women cleaning and preparing the catch of the day; if you’re lucky you might even spot seals playing in the surf.

Seals at Kalk Bay, Cape Town
Seals at Kalk Bay, Cape Town

Like much of the greater Cape Town area, Kalk Bay has its fair share of excellent dining options. For a breakfast to remember, try the atmospheric Olympia Café with its faded frontage and friendly staff. And, after a day at the beach, a scoop of rose-scented Turkish delight ice cream from the popular Ice Café is hard to beat. For dinner, you might head to the Brass Bell; something of a Kalk Bay institution, its famous hake and chips and portions of Cajun grilled calamari are only matched by its delightful seafront setting. Or, if you’d prefer a fine dining experience, the acclaimed Harbour House restaurant combines exceptional seafood – think sautéed smoked paprika calamari and grilled Cape crayfish – with first-class service and views to match. 

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