Glorious Gordons Bay: The area known today as Gordon’s Bay was named after Captain Robert James Gordon, an officer in the Dutch East India Company, who explored the area in 1778, however, for many years before that, the area was known as Fish Hoek – the same name as another town on the opposite side of False Bay.
This little known fact is evidenced by the name on the wall outside the local Post Office. Another common misconception about the town is that the initials GB (see photograph below), inscribed large on the mountain above the town, stand for Gordon’s Bay, however, they commemorate the General Botha, a decommissioned warship that used to be anchored in the harbour, and was used for training of navy cadets, who still reside at the Naval College, located near the Old Harbour.
Long the home to a rather elite group of locals, who live in the palatial homes clustered around the Old Harbour, Marina and Bikini Beach area of the town, the Mediterranean climate and warm water enjoyed in the bay in summer makes it a popular destination for visitors too.
The beaches, that seem to stretch for miles, are pristine white swathes alongside the calm, clear blue water of the ocean here, and can be quite crowded in the summer, although well maintained facilities mean that this is not a problem. Bikini Beach, probably the most famous beach in the area, has in fact been awarded Blue Flag status, and offers secluded and wind protected sun bathing and swimming.
Along the beach road are numerous café’s, restaurants and pubs, where locals and visitors alike gather during the summer, often still damp from swimming in the sea, to enjoy seafood, pizza or cocktails. In recent years, an informal market has also sprung up alongside the beach, on the boardwalk, and may be worth a visit.
Hiking in the Helderberg Nature Reserve is also a popular pasttime, as is a visit to the Steenbras Dam, located on top of the mountain, almost directly above the town, which supplies Cape Town with a large amount of its water. The Steenbras Gorge trail, a full day hike with stops along the way to swim in clear, cool mountain pools offers yet another hiking choice.
For less energetic visitors, a drive around the mountain towards Pringle Bay offers fantastic views, as well as picnic areas along the way. Fishing from the Old Harbour wall, or on a boat chartered in the Marina, are also popular activities, as are pleasure cruises.
Other choices within easy reach of the town itself are the Blue Rock Cable Waterski, a motorized water skiing adventure, Monkey Town, home to countless primates, and with fun family activities, the Helderberg Wine Route, and several golf courses. All in all, Gordon’s Bay offers the quintessential beachfront getaway.