8 GREAT Villages To Which To Escape, When You Live In Cape Town
We went away this weekend, yet stayed at home. We drove all of 30 kilometres. Right the way to just beyond Simon’s Town. It took us a little over half an hour to get there (longer if you take the wonderfully cheerful route, peppered with roadworks, along Main Road past all the seaside villages of False Bay to help you get in the holiday mood) and we didn’t even use a quarter of a tank of petrol.
Where we stayed had incredible views over the sea and was set right back against the craggy heights of the mountains of a nature reserve. There were no people or houses for miles (except for the house of our ‘landlady’). We could have been anywhere.
Anywhere, but Cape Town.
Staying close to home is a very attractive attractive option – due in no small part to the cost of petrol, economic slump, price of eggs etc. etc. And why not stay at home? Choose one of the idyllic spots in the myriad ‘villages’ of Cape Town, to which people from the rest of the country head whenever they can. We have it all, on our doorstep.
Bakoven / Oudekraal
A stay anywhere on the Atlantic Seaboard is going to cost you. This part of Cape Town is where worldwide jetsetters buy property. The wealthy and the famous quite literally hang-out here, and the place hums. But if you’re going to stay home then you may as well do it in style – spend on accommodation what you would have spent getting to and from your venue, and get one of the best views of the sea in the world (hopefully you’ve the tan to match). Oudekraal and Bakoven just manage to slip out of the net of frenzy of Camps Bay. Oudekraal, in particular, brings you to within spitting distance of the Twelve Apostles and it’s a view that includes its very own seal colony who dwell in amongst the sheltered coves, whilst the small sandy beach is relatively unmarred by development. The area looks set to remain largely uninhabited because of its ecological sensitivity. Bakoven, in turn, has a real village feel, its own beach, giant boulders and a surprisingly charming and unpretentious feel, despite the obvious wealth of the area.
Residents of Hout Bay sport their own passports. They consider their neck of the woods – because one has to venture over Suikerbossie Hill, Constantia Nek or along Chapman’s Peak to get anywhere – as their very own republic. A stay here in the fishing village of Hout Bay, whether it’s perched on the leafy hilltops of Constantia Nek, or in the valley proper, will give you access to a vibey harbour, a pre-requisite fish and chips meal, and the beach, which locals and their dogs use on a daily basis. The views of surrounding mountains and the bay are spectacular and the beach is one of the big wave spots around the globe for surfers. Resident seals frequent the harbour side hoping for fish. Mountains surround Hout Bay, the residents are laidback and cheerful, and there is plenty to do in the beautiful valley.
For accommodation see: Hout Bay Accommodation
Kalk Bay has a real vibe. The myriad nooks and crannies up alley ways and in little (rather over-priced, but who cares) shops, restaurants, coffee shops, ice-cream parlours, a theatre and boutiques all set right on busy Main Road (made all the more busy by the never-ending road works that will, Capetonians hope, improve the flow of traffic on the already-congested road) that hugs the coastline of False Bay and passes through seaside villages en route to Cape Point. This trendy fishing village, with its quintessentially English cobbled side roads and brightly coloured beachside huts is a hive of activity on any day of the week, summer or winter. Even the threat of early evenings during winter because of the close proximity of the mountain does little to daunt those who live here or those who come here to visit. The charm and quirkiness of the place easily works its way into your system. A stay here will be filled with sidewalk café natter, people watching, seafood and incredible views out over Kalk Bay harbour and False Bay.
For accommodation see: Kalk Bay Accommodation
Kommetjie is reminiscent of Noordhoek in its slowness and laidback appeal, but since property became so expensive here the neighbourhood has gone a little more upmarket, without losing its out of the way, seaside village appeal. Other than battling the odd baboon troop, who will invade your accommodation if you so much as leave a chink open, life here is idyllic. Accommodation overlooking Long Beach will be fairly expensive – most of the homes are large and perfect for big groups – but well worth the money, as the beach is seldom crowded, has legendary views and gives you a weekend that does not even hint at the rush of Cape Town.
For accommodation see: Kommetjie Accommodation
Llandudno has no street lights (in similar vein to Scarborough). But it suffers none of the eco-village appeal of the latter. Up against the boulder-ridden mountainside away from the gorgeous Atlantic beachfront – used for fashion shoots and movies – are oversize mansions, some built with little aesthetic consideration other than to reverberate wealth. Nonetheless, and despite its popularity over weekends, the village appeals as a place to stay for the sheer joy of being able to spill out of bed and down to one of the most beautiful beaches in Cape Town. Days in summer are long and sunsets rival those at Camps Bay, a favourite among both locals and visitors.
For accommodation see: Llandudno Accommodation
Ah, Noordhoek. Where the die-hard hippies hang out. Or at least the modern kind of hippie that can afford the prices of homes here. Noordhoek lies just below Chapman’s Peak with one of the longest beaches in Cape Town, hence its name – ‘long beach’. Horse back riders take to the strip of white sand that connects Noordhoek with Kommetjie on a daily basis, and it’s so seldom crowded that it’s worth a trip to the beach, even during summer, to escape the crowds that gather around the trendier beaches like Camps Bay. There’s a real rural feel to Noordhoek. People have ‘plots’ and smallholdings here and grow organic vegetables that nestle in the field alongside their horses. The mountain and seaside scenery is hard to beat, the feeling that time slows when you enter Noordhoek, and the fynbos bedecked gardens make you itch to stay.
For accommodation see: Noordhoek Accommodation
Scarborough was generally regarded as the last outpost – one of the only spots reserved for those who want to escape the city in the true sense of the word (you’ve got to really want to, as it’s miles from the city centre, the wind seems always to blow, and there is barely a shop or restaurants to speak of). Most of the homes have a boho-ethnic charm about them. Architects who specialise in eco and green home building base themselves here, and their homes are usually the epitomy of sustainable street-cred. Some of the homes here are descendents of holiday shacks and artists’ studios where Capetonians came to escape for the weekend – too far to commute, unlike today. But the neighbourhood has moved on from then, and is now an eclectic blend of very different people who all seek mountain, sea and fresh air. The bonus of living so far from the city is the lack of fences, community living, the black of the sky at night (no street lights), wild sage, honeysuckle, silver oak trees and fynbos wherever you look.
For accommodation see: Scarborough Accommodation
Simon’s Town has this really quaint high street. It smacks of an English seaside village (even if it doesn’t really have a beachfront to speak of – it does have penguins and swimming beaches just around the corner) and most of it is perched up on the hillside away from the harbour, where the navy has its base – hence the presence of men and women in white. Simon’s Town is one of the most historic parts of Cape Town, bar the centre of town. Victorian style buildings, albeit national monuments, are restored and serve as restaurants, coffee shops and estate agencies. The town is en route to Cape Point Nature Reserve so bus loads pass through here daily. One can imagine that once it served as a satellite village to Cape Town – much the way Stellenbosch does today, but on a smaller scale. The train stops here. The town is full of nooks and crannies, stairways, roads barely big enough to squeeze a car through, and pretty gardens. A stay here will replenish even the hardened.
For accommodation see: Simon’s Town Accommodation
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