This wonderful historic harbour village, en route to Cape Point, has everything you could possibly want from a day out by the sea. Well, everything except warm water. Which is just as well, because you might be less inclined to explore all those amazing antique, art and bric-a-brac shops, outstanding restaurants, ice cream parlours and funky bars that line its main thoroughfare.
By far the best way to arrive is by train, a most exquisite journey from Muizenberg (park at the Olive Station), taking in breathtaking views of the winding coastline, while all the while keeping an eye out for passing whales.
Kalk Bay is one of those places where you can finally catch your breath …
Turn right outside the station and immediately right again through a short underpass, and you will soon arrive at The Brass Bell, a famous pub and restaurant beautifully located out to sea, an absolute must for any visitor to Kalk Bay. Few traditional pub-like atmospheres can boast an excellent view of frolicking seals, or indeed, give the impression that your fish ‘n chips might get dragged out of the sea at any moment.
The kids will love it. Outside, there is a little craft stall, selling a fine selection of marvellously inventive candlestick holders, jewellery and sculptures made from shells and driftwood; I bought a chunky bracelet made from twisted strands of copper and a ring made from an old silver t-spoon.
Immediately opposite the station is bric ’a’ brac heaven – antique jewellery, books, china-ware, thimbles, lace – you name it, there’s many a good hour to be had pottering about the various shops, and alleyways that line the Main Road.
Keep an eye out for the majestic Kalk Bay Theatre, a 78-seater theatre/restaurant, which plays host to, amongst many other things, Theatresports – South Africa’s longest running and best known improvisation show (Tuesdays), where two teams of actors compete against one another in a series of hilarious improvised games, judged by the audience.
Take a stroll around the harbour, with its picturesque lighthouse and flotilla of brightly painted wooden boats. The fishermen offload their catch at about 1pm – when you can buy your supper straight from the boat.
My favourite watering hole, and somewhere for which I would gladly go out of my way, is Cape to Cuba, a highly evocative homage to Latin temperament, every distressed inch dripping with melted wax and revolutionary chic.
Take a good look round. This is as much a bar and restaurant as it is an extraordinary work of art (Salvador Dali meets ‘The Godfather’), with unsurpassed views of the harbour and the distant Holland Mountains to boot. Choose your favourite from their great cocktail menu. Mine’s a Mojito, one of the best I’ve ever tasted!