Things to do in or near Simon's Town
There are many interesting things to do and see in Simon’s Town, most of which are a very short drive from Simon’s Town Guest House.
Boulders Beach just outside Simonstown in Cape Town is a unique beach in that you share the crystal clear waters and beautifully white sand with Jackass or African Penguins. Endemic to these regions and considered an endangered species, it is common to give right of way to these charming creatures when crossing the sands.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the dunes and the Penguin colony on the boardwalks specifically laid out so as not to disturb the birds and their "nests" which are basically little holes dug in the sand to protect their eggs from the sun. Penguin chicks can be seen at Boulders Beach from March to May, while the young stay with their parents for up to a few months gaining strength for the swim out to sea.
A small entrance fee to the beach ensures that these land based Penguins will still be here for us to enjoy for generations to come at Boulders Beach in Simonstown, Cape Town
Deep Sea Fishing
Deep Sea fishing charters allow visitors to Simonstown Cape Town, the experience of fishing in some of the richest fishing areas in the world. The cold Benguela Current and warm Aghullas Current collide just off the coast causing seasonal upwelling's which produce prolific amounts of bait fish – attracting pelagic and coastal game fish alike.
Yellowfin tuna arrives in March and June and again in October to December. Cape Salmon, Swordfish and Longfin tuna can also be found in the waters off of the Cape Coast with the occasional Marlin and Dorado sighting.
Cape Snoek is abundant in the winter months with Kabeljou, Mako and Blue Sharks also making an appearance ensuring abundant sea life all year round. Inshore, Reef and Fly fishing are also available along with Deep Sea Fishing charters which leave from Simonstown harbour in Cape Town.
Simonstown Harbour is on the False Bay side of Cape Town and is protected from the strong north-westerly winter winds which wreak havoc along the rest of the coastline. With a rich Naval history, Simonstown Harbour has seen its fair share of Navy ships although today harbour waters are filled with a number of leisure crafts, anchored here for enjoyment by locals and visitors.
The False Bay Yacht Club calls Simonstown Harbour their home with slipways available for visiting vessels, a marine shop and club house with a bar and restaurant along with any other professional services you may require.
Charter companies which run deep sea fishing and birding expeditions, shark cage diving, whale watching, sea kayaking and trips to Seal Island and Cape Point Peninsula all leave from the harbour at various time of the day. Simon’s Town Harbour offers a range of activities for the whole family to enjoy and shouldn’t be missed on a trip to Cape Town.
The SA Navy, stationed in Simonstown Cape Town has had a colourful history, part of which includes a dog called Just Nuisance – who made such an impact on the lives of sailors during the Second World War, that he was enlisted into the Royal Navy. A statue of him can still be seen today on Jubilee Square.
Simonstown harbour was signed over to the SA Navy in 1957, which has since expanded with the purchase of four new patrol corvettes and three new submarines with strike craft. Mine countermeasure vessels and an auxiliary vessel with a number of smaller craft are still in service today.
The SA Navy hosts a festival in March every year in Simonstown which draws crowds exceeding 100 000 visitors over the course of the event. Activities include free access to most of the SA Navy ships to see what it is like to live and work on such a vessel, Navy band concerts and events held between the seamen themselves. The SA Navy Festival in Simonstown has become a highlight on the Cape Town entertainment calendar and shouldn't be missed.
Not to be missed is a tour of the decommissioned and perfectly restored, SAS Assegaai Submarine situated in the Navy Dockyard.
The Jackass or African Penguin, found in Simonstown Cape Town are the only species of its kind found on the African continent. Most colonies are on coastal islands like Robben Island – but on Boulders beach just outside Simonstown, there is a land based colony bordering on 3 500 penguins.
Called the Jackass Penguin because of their call which sounds like the braying of a donkey, they were re-named African Penguins to distinguish them from the South American Penguins of the same name. Penguins and their eggs were considered a delicacy in the early days of colonisation and they were hunted mercilessly, thankfully schemes are now under way to protect these birds, although human habitation still poses a threat to their existence in the form of oil spills and overfishing of their hunting grounds.
Penguins are known to mate for life, the same pairs coming back to their nests every year to lay eggs. The Penguins outside Simonstown in Cape Town are known to lay from March to May, after which the young hatch and stay with the adults until they are a few months old and big enough to make it out to sea on their own. Penguins are a delight to watch and shouldn't be missed on a trip through Simonstown.
Restaurants in Simonstown Cape Town are varied and plentiful, offering guests cosy atmospheres and local as well as international cuisine options. Simonstown Restaurants become particularly popular during whale season since most establishments boast unobstructed views over False Bay and the whales that frequent these waters, making any dining experience truly unique.
There are a range of establishments catering to all palates. Traditional South African fanfare, fresh plentiful seafood and fusion menus which will make your mouth water – each dish enhanced with locally grown and bottled wines, which Cape Town is so famous for.
Dixies, The Meeting Place and Lighthouse Café are some of the restaurants in Simonstown Cape Town, alone with a range of coffee shops which are perfect for light snacks or a quick bite whilst exploring the area.
Sailing in False Bay from Simonstown Cape Town is an experience which shouldn't be excluded from any itinerary if you are visiting this area. Abundant sea life makes the waters around Simonstown a very exciting place to be, especially if you would like to experience Whales, Dolphins, Seals and Great White Sharks in their natural habitats.
Sailing regattas are held throughout the year for different class vessels and are hosted by the False Bay Yacht club which calls Simonstown Cape Town its home. Sightseeing trips of False Bay and Seal Island leave from the harbour on a daily basis and offers an alternative way of exploring the many coves and bays along the coastline.
Cape Town plays host to a number of national and International sailing events and with limited moorings around the peninsula, Simonstown is well known within the sailing fraternity.
Scuba Diving in the ocean around Simonstown Cape Town – divers can explore, to their hearts content the cool waters of False Bay – teeming with sea life of various shapes, forms and sizes.
A choice of either shore or boat dives are available with shipwrecks, huge kelp forests, deep reefs and coral gardens awaiting the inquisitive diver of any level to discover. Scuba Diving courses in the calm waters of Simonstown are popular and with the coastline offering easy entry and exit points, the learning experience becomes all the more enjoyable.
Kelp, sea cucumbers, Southern Right Whales, dog fish, urchins, pyjama sharks and a multitude of other marine creatures frequent the waters around Simonstown Cape town, making scuba diving an experience not to be missed!
Shark Cage Diving
Shark Cage Diving from Simonstown harbour in Cape Town is one of those experiences you simply cannot miss. False Bay is home to Great White sharks, greatly misunderstood super predators of the oceans. False Bay is one of the only recorded places in the world where these sharks are known to breach while on the hunt for seals from Seal Island.
Trips go out daily in Season with the opportunity to see these amazing animals up close and personal in a viewing cage, attached to the side of the boat. Many studies are being done on Great Whites to better understand their migratory patterns and habits in an attempt to dispel all the negative publicity they have attracted as man-eater.
Shark Cage Diving is available during Season (February to September) from Simon’s Town Harbour in Cape Town, with day trips being the most popular although 10 day educational expeditions are also available.
Whale watching in and around Simonstown Cape Town can be a humbling experience, especially when gazing upon these gigantic yet graceful creatures, from just a few metres away. Whale watching is at its best from May to November when they come to the warm waters off of Cape Town to mate and calve.
Simonstown offers fantastic views over False Bay where you can see Southern Right Whales, the rare Brydes Whale, and Humpback Whales frolicking in the ocean. Orcas and Sperm Whales can also be seen although aren't as prolific off of this part of the coastline.
Whale watching can be done from many spots along the coast or from boats departing from Simonstown or Cape Town harbour. The most convenient would be from your bedrooms window at Simonstown Guest House which overlooks the bay below – seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is an experience not to be missed.
Bird watching in and around Simonstown and the Cape Town area is very popular due to the indigenous flora which attracts many bird species, some of which includes the Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird – however international recognition has been achieved for Pelagic or seabird sightings along the coast.
The geological features along the Peninsula creates ideal nesting spots for various seabirds. Sightings from land of Kelp and Silver Gulls, Cormorants and Terns are plentiful. Once out at sea Cape Gannets, White-capped and Yellow-nosed Albatross with wingspans of over 2 metres soar through the skies. Storm Petrels, Great Shearwaters as well as Cory and Manx Shearwaters compete for food with Northern and Southern Giant Petrels – watching these birds in action behind a fishing trawler creates fabulous opportunities for photographs at point blank range.
Simonstown Guest House has panoramic views over False Bay and offers avid bird watching enthusiasts, visiting Cape Town spectacular sightings of a range of land and bird species.