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Jessica Stafford / © Culture Trip
Jessica Stafford / © Culture Trip
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Discover the Seaside Charm of This Cape Town Harbor

Picture of Andrew Thompson
Updated: 13 March 2018
Kalk Bay, just outside of Cape Town, may have started out as a sleepy fishing village, but today it’s a fascinating seaside suburb that’s retained plenty of its original charm.

You’ll still find charming fishermen who’ve learned their trade from previous generations, faded boats bobbing in the harbor, and the occasional seal posing for a few snaps in exchange for a rogue sardine. But in between them all are quirky stores, popular restaurants, beautiful views, and various activities to keep you entertained. Together, they make for a perfect day trip from Cape Town, or you could stay overnight and soak up everything that’s made this False Bay suburb one of the Cape’s most popular.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

Places to stay

Kalk Bay is only 30 minutes from the center of Cape Town, but if you want to save yourself the drive there are dozens of great accommodation options. These range from rustic and homely guesthouses and bed and breakfasts to high-end establishments, serviced apartments, and Airbnb options.

Bishop’s View offers remarkable views, plenty of space for an entire family, and a splash pool to cool off after a hot summer’s day. If you feel like five-star hotel-style service, check out St. James Guesthouses—it’s a short walk away from the main hub of Kalk Bay. If you’re traveling on a budget, there are good backpackers with dormitories and private rooms in nearby Muizenberg and Simon’s Town—a short drive or train ride away.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip
Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

Things to see and do

The main focal point of Kalk Bay is its bustling harbor. It’s a working fishing harbor that attracts both sightseers and seafood bargain hunters—you can purchase fish fresh from the ship. The walk out to the iconic lighthouse is a popular activity, too. You’ll pass fishermen casting off the pier, get views back over the harbor and the town set against the mountain, and may even catch the salty spray from the powerful waves that crash into it.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip
Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

If you’re feeling a bit more active, you could head for the water or the mountains.

Kayak Cape Town offer popular kayaking trips to view the penguins that often occupy the waters nearby. Kalk Bay also has several tidal pools which are particularly popular with families. Wooly’s Tidal Pool is the most spectacular, and the perfect place to cool off. If you prefer not to do the hard work, you can hop aboard one of several boat tours. These usually depart from Simon’s Town.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip
Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

On the mountain side, Kalk Bay offers some beautiful hikes and caves to explore. If you’re looking for a safe and accessible route, head to Boomslang cave, which starts on nearby Boyes Drive at the Echo Valley sign. It’s approximately four kilometers long, but the views of False Bay make the physical exertion well worth it.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip
Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

The suburb has also become a cultural and creative hub. Kalk Bay Books is a popular hub for bibliophiles, but it’s also perfectly laid out for a quick browse. It’s a beautiful classic bookstore stocked with best sellers and unique finds, and they also host regular events with authors that are well worth attending. If you’re looking for live entertainment, Kalk Bay Theatre offers a diverse selection of shows, ranging from comedies to musicals.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip
Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

Kalk Bay is perfect for long, lazy walks, but if you want a bit more context to your ambling you can also plug into the VoiceMap audio tour of the region. It connects all of the quaint village-like suburbs along False Bay into a compelling narrative that you can explore on your own time.

Food and drink

When it comes to restaurants, Kalk Bay excels. Start by taking a look at the restaurants in the harbor precinct. Though restaurant group Harbour House has established a firm grip on the region with its Live Bait, Harbour House, and La Parada brands, each offers a good dining experience in a unique location. They also operate a branch of their Lucky Fish and Chips takeaway joint, but if you’re after cheap and cheerful, it’s best to keep things authentic, so head to the iconic Kalky’s. There you’ll find fresh fish and chips at bargain prices, served up in a laid-back setting.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

The two institutions in the area, Olympia Cafe and the Brass Bell, are worth a visit. Olympia offers a wide selection of baked goods, light meals, and a solid cup of coffee in a typically laid-back environment. Brass Bell is set on the rocks above the ocean, and is the perfect spot for a pub-style meal and an ice cold beer.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

When the night moves on, head to the main nightlife focal point in the area, Cape to Cuba. This feast for the eyes fills up quickly thanks to its beach bar setting and good music.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip

Shopping

In recent years Kalk Bay has developed a strong reputation as the best suburb in Cape Town to visit if you’re after antiques and quirky and unique items. Start off at the Kalk Bay Co-Op, and then take a wander down the road. Pop into any of the stores that intrigue you—you’ll find everything from paintings, furniture, and fashion to old vinyls and modern souvenirs. Even if you don’t end up buying something, walking the various stores in Kalk Bay can soak up a few hours and leave you feeling strangely satisfied.

Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip
Kalk Bay-Cape Town-South Africa
Jessica Stafford / | © Culture Trip