Hout Bay gained its name from early Dutch settlers in the Cape. It literally means Wood Bay, for the timber they gathered there to construct the early buildings in the Cape. After a brief period where the area was used for Manganese mining, the still-existent fishing industry was founded.
One of the main attractions in Hout Bay to this day, aside from the white sandy beaches and mountains that encircled the protected bay, is the harbour. Home to several art and curio stores, restaurants and maritime antiquity dealers, the harbour is a must visit. Take a stroll along the piers, buy freshly caught fish straight from the trawlers when they return from the sea, or enjoy a delicious seafood lunch or dinner in one of the eateries.
Another activity visitors to the harbour may choose to take advantage of is one of the boat trips to Seal Island, just off the coast outside the bay. Often featured on wildlife documentaries, this large seal colony is home not only to hundreds of Cape Fur Seals, but also to that fearsome predator of the deep, the Great White Shark, who prowl the waters around the tiny island waiting for their chance.
The boats that take you out on a trip to the island also tour the bay, and often guides point out attractions such as the old fort en route to the island. Another feature of many of these boats is a glass bottom, where you can have a unique perspective of the sea around the Bay, and who knows, maybe spot a seal, or one of those sharks. For beach lovers, besides the main beaches of Hout Bay, there are the options of the nearby, secluded Llandudno, or for the braver, visit South Africa’s only nudist beach – Sandy Bay.
The Sunday Craft Market, featuring local arts and crafts, as well as activities such as pony rides for the kids, is another option for visitors, as is a trip to Africa’s largest bird park, the World of Birds, which is home to more than 400 species of birds and other animals, including monkeys, wallabies and reptiles.
For those who would like to discover more about the history of the area, there is a museum in Andrews Road, which houses a collection of local artifacts, and provides an in depth exploration of the local history, dating back to the Strandlopers, who populated the area thousands of years before its “discovery” by the Dutch.
Another great way to explore the area is to take advantage of one of the many hiking trails that meander through the mountains around the town. All of these trails offer the opportunity to experience the Cape’s unique floral kingdom, Fynbos, up close and personal, combined with magnificent views of the town, surrounding mountains and sea.
When leaving Hout Bay, it is worthwhile to take the Chapman’s Peak route, which snakes precariously around the mountain. Views from this road are amazing, and it is possible to stop alongside the road in designated areas and enjoy a picnic.
If Hout Bay is your choice of destination when travelling to Cape Town, find a place to stay by visiting the Hout Bay Accommodation options available. You will find that accommodation ranges from luxurious guest houses to more modest Bed & Breakfasts and self catering options.