Penguins are the star attraction for kids! Just past Simon’s Town on the False Bay coast is Boulders Beach – a charming beach with giant boulders, tranquil pools and you guessed it- penguins! This is an absolute must do activity for the children as you can sit on the beach with the penguins, swim with the penguins or walk on the elevated boardwalks to view them. It is a truly remarkable experience, but for an extended appreciation of these quirky characters check into the family friendly Boulders Beach Lodge– self catering and B&B accommodation right at Boulders Beach. You will have penguins outside your window, a bed almost on the beach and there is an excellent kids menu at the restaurant and some not to be missed penguin curios at the downstairs shop! They even have “Ride a Penguin” which raises funds for SANCCOB.
Down the road from the penguin colony is another famous and fascinating bird – the ostrich! Ostriches are also flightless birds and have the added accolade of being Africa’s largest birds. The Cape Point Ostrich Farm, opposite the entrance to the Cape Point Nature Reserve is a great spot for kids to learn about the entire life cycle of these enormous birds and during breeding season there is a strong likelihood of experiencing the hatching of an ostrich chick. Don’t forget the Osto-rante Restaurant where you can tuck into some healthy ostrich meat.
For yet another birding extravaganza it is well worth cruising over Chapmans’ Peak Drive to the World of Birds in Hout Bay. This is Africa’s largest bird park and it boasts more than 4000 bird species from buzzards to vultures in various walk-through aviaries. There are other creatures like meerkats, marmosets, squirrels and monkeys. The highlight for most kids is the Monkey Jungle where the inquisitive and very cute Squirrel Monkeys climb all over the visitors. Kids adore the encounter.
Try a boat trip from Hout Bay to visit the Cape Fur Seal Colony on Duiker Island, which takes about an hour. The Cape Fur Seals have thick pelts, unlike true seals that only have a thin covering of hair. The Seals breed on rocky ground hence the abundance of seals on Duiker Island.
There are more seals in False Bay on the aptly named Seal Island, which is located just 8 nautical miles from Simon’s Town harbor. Seal Island is home to 75,000 Cape Fur Seals and can only be reached by boat. This trip is a real treat for kids, they get to see seals close up in their natural environment and may also get the chance to witness one of 20,000 pup births, during the months November and December. Perfect timing for summer!
Climb aboard the Spirit of Just Nuisance and take a slow cruise around Simon’s Bay to enjoy all the historic sites and splendid scenery that Simon’s Town has to offer.
After a gentle cruise around the harbour, the Ferry takes you to the French-built submarine SAS Assegaai which has been lovingly restored by a group of retired and in-service naval staff and converted into a floating museum in Simon’s Town harbor. Kids can run through narrow submarine corridors, built just for them! This experience is fun and educational, with the chance for kids to learn even more about technology.
For a bigger piece of action, forget cruising and go fishing! Hooked on Africa, operating from Hout Bay, organise inshore fishing trips for kids from 4 – 12, catching Hottentot and Snoek. Older kids can brave the deeper seas and wilder oceans and try their hand at catching the BIG ONE on a full day deep sea fishing excursion.
Surfing is another great on-the-water activity for kids. Muizenberg is known for its long wide expanse of sandy beach with kid-friendly waves and colourful bathing boxes. “The Corner” is a Cape Town hot spot of surf culture for learners and professionals alike, with great waves for beginners. You can hire boards from one of the many surf shops, or take a lesson with the professionals who include all equipment with the lesson. Behind the beach are some great family fun extras like miniature golf (putt- putt) and the super-tube, a fast moving waterslide which is a perennial favourite amongst kids (and Dad’s).
Another balancing act on the water is sea kayaking. Gliding across the water surface, having seals wave their flippers, as you paddle past is an activity that you just can’t experience on TV. Young adults may paddle on single kayaks, but younger kids should go in a double kayak with a proficient adult. Previous kayak experience is not necessary as the boats are safe and stable and straight up fun!
Blokart landsailing in Muizenberg, Cape Town comprises of a light and compact three wheeled buggy and a sail of anything from 2m to 5.5m in length. Absolutely anyone can fit into the comfortable sling seat, with your legs stretched out in front of you, take hold of the steering bar and sheet rope and set off along the Muizenberg beach car park track. Unlike kite boarding or wind surfing after 5 minutes of briefing on controls and safety you can be on your way. All you require is some wind and the will for thrill. Kids can definitely have an adrenaline filled blast, that will leave them buzzing.
Small children can go in a tandem with an adult (just be sure to pre book the tandem!)
With all the water action it would be foolish to miss the diversity of life under the water. The Western Cape has the smallest floral kingdom in the world and that awesome diversity is mirrored underwater. Scuba diving in the waters of the Cape Point Route offers shipwrecks, kelp forests, coral gardens, deep reefs and unsurpassed marine life. Let the kids take a scuba diving course for an unforgettable holiday experience that will leave a lifetime of wonderment. Sea dives are suitable for over 12’s but learning to dive in the pool can be experienced from the age of 8.
Even if your kids don’t get to dive to one of the shipwrecks, get them to look for shipwrecks that are littered along the coastline and imagine being an early explorer in the area. Easy wrecks to spot are the Maori off Llandudno Beach in Hout Bay and the Kakapo Wreck on Noordhoek beach. The captain of the Kakapo took a seriously wrong turn, and the abandoned sailors didn’t even get their feet wet when they ran aground! Visit one of the many lighthouses built to help ships avoid the dangerous coastline. Slangkoppunt Lighthouse is the tallest cast iron lighthouse in South Africa and a great kid’s activity to climb to the top. The energy expenditure is worth it for the interesting facts, legends and panoramic views at the top.
CAPE POINT: Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope
Cape Point has much to offer the visitor, from magnificent scenery to the Flying Dutchman Funicular and amazing seafood at the Two Oceans Restaurant. The souvenir shop, the Funicular and the Restaurant are open daily from 9am-6pm October – March and 9am-5pm April – September.
For treasure of a different kind, visit Scratch Patch and Mineral World in Simon’s Town. This Aladdin’s cave of semi precious gemstones has the kids scratching around to fill a small bag with beautiful tumble-polished gemstones from hundreds and thousands that cover the floor. There is also great shopping for mums and dads who aren’t themselves engrossed in also finding their favourite gemstones!
SIMON’S TOWN HISTORY:
Whilst in Simon’s Town catch up on some history. It is also a fabulous town for rainy day entertainment. Visit the Simon’s Town museum for a full history of the area from Hunter-gatherer days, through the Anglo Boer War to Navy stories. Find out about Simon’s Town’s famous Great Dane dog, Just Nuisance, by visiting his statue on Jubilee Square or walking up to his grave at Klaver Camp on Red Hill. The Warrior Toy Museum on the main street of Simon’s Town has a huge display of dinky toys, dolls, model cars, boats and trains for kids of all ages.
Whilst discovering history, take a walking township tour in Masimphumelele with Charlotte or in Imizama Yethu Township in Hout Bay for a fascinating insight into how many South African’s live. Kids will be fascinated by the colour and vibrancy of the local people and be absorbed by the warmth and friendliness of people who speak a language with clicks! Children will learn about the tangled history of a country divided by the racial colour of its people, and an amazing transformation of change. Let’s hope that the children and parents who visit this area, discover and practice tolerance and acceptance of other people and other cultures, just as South Africa herself is learning these skills.
Imhoff Farm, on the Kommetjie Road is Childfriendly with a Capital “C” and easy to spot, with the unusual sight of camels reclining on the roadside. Camel rides are a unique experience but older kids can organise a 2 hour horseride on Noordhoek Beach, which is easily visible from the front lawn. Indulge in a country meal or great pizzas at the Gift restaurant or pick up some cheese from the cheesery for a picnic. While you relax let the kids feed the farmyard animals or if they are brave enough get a photo taken with “Julius Squeezer”, the giant python at the Snake and Reptile Park. Imhoff is also a fabulous spot for shopping with over 20 well known local artists, a FANTASTIC wine shop for the parents and 3 excellent restaurants.
Noordhoek Farm Village epitomises child friendly – all restaurants welcome children and offer excellent childrens menus. There is a wonderful playground and a wide open village green in the centre of the white washed buildings for running around in a safe environment. Plenty for adults from shopping to relaxing, eating and drinking!