Today we’re recapping our visit to Cape Point in South Africa. It’s the latest installment in a series of recaps of our February 2019 trip to this gorgeous country. While it’s a bit of a departure from our typical National Park Service posts, we had an amazing experience in Africa and want everyone to know how easy and accessible it was to travel there. We also want to share more about South Africa’s national parks and how they compare to our own. To see our other South Africa posts – click here: International Trips
Cape Point – Our #1 Must-See in Cape Town
While Table Mountain tops the list of most Cape Town travel guides, without a doubt we recommend Cape Point as the #1 Must-See attraction. On our third day in South Africa, we hired a private driver for a full day in the Cape Point area. The time we spent there was the highlight of our stay in Cape Town and one of the best days of our 14-day trip.
Today we’re sharing a timeline of our day in Cape Point and everything that makes this place one of the most unique destinations on the planet.
But first, some basic info on Cape Point:
About Cape Point & Cape Peninsula
- Located about 70 km south of Table Mountain and the Cape Town central business district, Cape Point is a prominent section of rocky coastline near the Cape of Good Hope. It’s at the very bottom of the Cape Peninsula area.
- Contrary to what most American’s are taught, this is NOT where the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean meet. The two oceans don’t meet anywhere on the South African coast. (Google it. We didn’t believe it either!)
- The Cape Point area is part of Table Mountain National Park. It protects one of the richest biospheres on the planet.
- The most popular activities at Cape Point include: visiting the nearby penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach, touring the two lighthouses at Cape Point, and hiking along the sandstone cliffs and coastal trails.
Our Cape Point Itinerary
8 AM – Chapman’s Peak Drive
Our driver, Craig met us at the hotel for an early start driving along one of Cape Town’s most famous routes: Chapman’s Peak Drive. Known as one of the most scenic drives in the world, this toll route travels down the Cape Peninsula between Hout Bay and Noordhoek.
At just over 9 km in length, the road hangs over 500 meters above the ocean in spots with gorgeous views of the Atlantic coast. On the day we traveled the wind was too blustery to spend much time out of the car. We recommend spending a part of the morning stopping along the vistas and pull-outs on your way to Cape Point.
Our driver recommends starting out early in the day as tourist traffic builds along Champman’s Peak Drive across the day.
9 AM – Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony
Just after Chapman’s Peak Drive, we pulled into Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town for a quick stop before heading to the Boulder’s Beach penguin colony. That’s right. Cape Point is home to more than 3,000 wild African penguins – one of our favorite things about the trip!
The penguins arrived in the area in 1983 and have continued breeding and spending summers in the chilly waters of False Bay. While numbers have climbed since falling under the protection of Table Mountain National Park, the penguins are an endangered species. At one point in the late
Since then, efforts to control commercial fishing, marine pollution and property development along the coastline have allowed the colony to safely use Boulder’s Beach for breeding and nesting from February to August.
To visit the penguins, we pulled into the Boulder’s Beach parking area, paid the admission fee to the beach and hiked a short distance to the beach. It was our first chance to put our feet in Indian Ocean waters (and see wild penguins!)
The penguins here are free to swim and spend time on the beach just like visitors. The waters were WAY too cold for us, but there were a few brave people swimming in the same water as the penguins!
After Boulder’s, we hiked along the park’s boardwalks that separate the residential area from the beach. The boardwalks wander through the penguin nesting grounds to nearby Foxy Beach. Here we saw a much larger nesting colony, including eggs and you guessed it:
11 AM – Cape Point Lighthouse
Our next stop after the penguin colony was Cape Point and the lighthouses. Located about 30 minutes drive South from Simon’s Town, Cape Point is a world-class section of Table Mountain sandstone that towers about the Atlantic Coast.
We arrived before the crowds for an hour and a half of hiking up to the lighthouses, taking photos of the coastline, and visiting the exhibits. The area is very popular for large tour groups and travelers so plan to arrive as early as possible in the day (and pay a hefty entrance fee for international travelers.)
We hiked up the hill to the top of Cape Point, but visitors can also take the Flying Dutchman funicular (just a fun word to say!) It’s a fee-based railway car that treks visitors up to the old lighthouse.
Once we arrived at the top of the hill, we headed out to the viewpoint for the new lighthouse a 1.5-mile out-and-back hike from the Visitor’s Center area. Even with the stiff Atlantic wind, it was a gorgeous hike (reminiscent of our own Point Reyes National Seashore in California.)
On the way back to the parking area we had another wildlife encounter. This time with baboons. All over the parking areas at Ca
Sure enough, we watched a juvenile baboon tackle a woman off the trail to steal food from her handbag! We were grateful to make it back to the car
1 PM – Lunch at The Black Marlin Restaurant
3 PM – Kalk Bay Seaside
Our final stop of the day was the trendy seaside village of Kalk Bay. All over the tourist shops in Cape Town, you’ll find postcards and photos of these brightly colored huts on the beach. These famous changing houses on St. James Beach near the Kalk Bay downtown used to be rolled out in the ocean so Victorian women could take a dip in the sea without any ‘indecencies.’ The beach is within walking distance from town and a good spot to snap your own souvenir of one of Cape Town’s most famous photographs.
Kalk Bay was full of trendy shops, restaurants, and places to grab a quick cup of coffee. We stopped in at one of the shops and purchased some gorgeous block print fabrics to bring home along with some artwork.
It was a perfect way to end our day along the Cape Peninsula before he headed back north into the Cape Town city center.
Other Travel Notes
- A special thanks to Craig at Big Sky Chauffeur Services for being our guide for the day. He was SO knowledgeable and friendly, spending the full day answering our questions and sharing the best parts of the Cape!
- For more information on the global threats to penguins like the African penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach, visit SANCCOB – a non-profit organization that works to protect the coastal birds of Southern Africa) https://sanccob.co.za
- Here is a gallery of some of our favorite photos from our day at the Cape Peninsula: