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Posted on: Monday, 29 June 2009

The Definitive Guide to Kalk Bay

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Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay

Clutching sun faded towels and cloaked in floaty kaftans, the more adventurous residents of Kalk Bay make their daily pilgrimage down to the tidal pools that generously grace the False Bay coastline. Splashing in refreshingly cold sea water every morning could be the secret to the youth and vitality of the people in Kalk Bay, although perhaps it has something more to do with the mysterious atmosphere of abundance and relaxation that infuses its visitors.

Morning dips in the ocean are best followed by one of Cape Town’s best coffees at C’est la Vie, an unpretentious French peasant style café with their own tiny bakery on site or at Olympia Café for a hearty deli breakfast with kippers and fluffy eggs. Grabbing a few supplies for the pantry from the charming Olympia Bakery is a ritual, before returning home.

Deriving its name from the word ‘kalk’ meaning ‘lime,’ the name was inspired by the 17th century Dutch residents of the village who used to extract lime from the sea shell deposits, used in construction. In later years the bay became known for its bountiful treasures as a fishing village and has remained a working harbour for fishing vessels ever since.

Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay

Making a living off the sea has always held some strange romantic connotation, coveted by writers and poets the world over, which, along with the beauty of the sea’s temper and the quaint cobbled street village, and would explain the attraction for the creative community. World renowned artists, poets and writers living in Kalk Bay, have often openly admitted to its inspiring changeable atmosphere, as muse, but there are no ivory towers amongst the arty folk or anyone else here, as they flit unrecognisably from sea to soiree, resting in their summer sojourn or beloved family home in between!

Massive facelifts to the area, prompted by the impressive multimillion Rand ‘Majestic’ residential development, have given rise to a luxury book store, ‘Kalk Bay Books,’ the exquisite ‘Majestic Spa’ and ‘Klipkantien,’ the gorgeous tapas venue overlooking the sea which hosts jazz evenings twice a week and is a Kalk Bay staple. Residents and holiday maker’s alike delight in the midsummer magic, dancing barefoot with glasses of wine in hand, under the heavy moon, as if a spell were cast upon them by the land itself. For to be a part of the essence of the village, is to be unravelled and freed, if only for an evening.

Shopping in Kalk Bay
For Capetonians, Kalk Bay has always been a weekend getaway, a place to shop, eat pistachio ice cream, overindulge on a seafood lunch, browse some more, take in a gingerbread martini and then return wearily to the city.

Beatnik Bazaar

Beatnik Bazaar

‘Kalk Bay Modern’ should be a must on any visitors top 10 list with its gorgeous gallery space set above the Olympia Café. It houses local artists and designers unique pieces from cushions and leather bags through to ‘raw’ setees, art works, fabric, Persian rugs and more. ‘Blossom,’ a new addition to the Kalk Bay strip, believes vehemently in keeping the handmade pledge and stocks delightful handmade goodies harkening back to the days of hand crafted goods, crochet and knitted objects.

Newest kid on the block, ‘Beatnik Bazaar’ stocks retro, vintage and modern accent pieces for the home and only supports locally hand crafted designer soft furnishings, ceramics and gifts. ‘Aardvark Gallery’ across the road from Beatnik Bazaar, is a large contemporary space with a mix of local hand crafted goods, sculptures, bronze, wood, art and something for everyone’s taste. ‘Kalk Bay Trading Post’ and ‘Railway House’ have been fixtures in Kalk Bay for years, offering the curious visitor plenty of eye candy and unique pieces to feast their eyes on, from massive doors to marble baths, to original editions of famous comic books and tin toys. “JACK’s,’ or ‘JAPS’ is Jo-Anne’s antique carpets and kelims and is run from her home with a stunning showcase of the most beautiful antique Persian carpets you have ever laid eyes on.

‘Chinatown’ has moved round the corner and the place it left now belongs to three new stores, ‘Franky’s,’ for vintage inspired fashion, ‘Ska’ for relaxed fashion and ‘Sugarberry Trading,’ for antiques and art. ‘Mythology’ is the newest contender in the women’s fashion stakes and is an exquisite showcase for local designers such as Miss Moneypenny and other gorgeous Goddess creations.

Kalk Bay Habour

Kalk Bay Habour

‘India Jane’ is famed for their feminine dresses and vibey atmosphere created by their wonderful shop assistants, guaranteeing you need never leave empty handed! ‘Catacoombs’ specialise in ethereal dresses and women’s wear, made with unique embellishments and lots of love while ‘Mystic Rose’ will always have the perfect dress for that special occasion. ‘Gypsey’ and ‘Oh so Boho’ offer Indian cotton garments and accessories, ideal for those searching for that perfect bohemian ‘Kalk Bay’ look!

Eating and drinking in Kalk Bay
It seems asthough you could live for five years in Kalk Bay and still not have been to every restaurant, diner, coffee shop, fish shop or cocktail bar around. Favourites include ‘Olympia Café,’ for breakfast and lunch, ‘Brad’s Bistro’ for their famous lamb chops and relaxed seaside atmosphere, ‘The Brass Bell,’ who have about 8 different venues within their one massive venue, all peering over the rocks and onto the water.

‘Sirocco’ feels like a hidden piece of Portugal or Spain, with its outdoor al fresco dining area and fresh white aesthetics, making it the perfect lunch spot for fresh seafood and gourmet offerings. ‘Polana’ and ‘Harbour House’ are located at the waters edge and are actually perched on the rocks. Visit both for the best evening you’ll have in Kalk Bay! ‘Cape to Cuba’ is known for its Cuban aethetics, warm atmosphere and the best cocktails on the peninsula. ‘FiSH’ is the modern and sleek sushi, seafood, champagne and oyster’s haven nestled beautifully within the newly developed area of the village and ‘Klipkantien’ next door offers breakfasts, lunch and dinners in a tapas style, under a massive palm tree on a terrace, overlooking the sea.

‘Satori’s’ is a pizza and pasta venue with a difference, crowded and bustling even in the middle of storms in winter. ‘Kalky’s’ at the harbour is a ‘must visit’ for a taste of authentic portuguese infused fresh fish and chips, served Kalk bay style, on the pier. On the St. James side of Kalk Bay, opposite Dalebrooke tidal pool, the sugary sweet coffee shop ‘Cassia & Figg’ opened their doors in December and is the place to go for a light lunch and the English style ‘Kalk Bay Pub’ just next to it offers gourmet pub grub and draft.

Reach it by train, car, and bicycle or on foot, but whatever you do, make sure you get there. Stay for a weekend or even just a day and you’ll feel a new lease on life because this little seaside village will undoubtedly have charmed you. Perhaps you too will be dancing under the full moon before your day in Kalk Bay is through …

Destination Info:
For more information about Kalk Bay please see:
Kalk Bay Photographs
Kalk Bay Attractions & Things to Do
Kalk Bay Accommodation Options

Thaya Bedford


Thaya is a travelling photojournalist, local music lover, mother and country-dwelling Impresario, living in a tiny village in the magnificent Overberg region. A love of capturing the soulful essence of a place has led Thaya to seek out lesser-known places, from folk music haunts, circus-themed restaurants, hidden beaches and crystal pools, to hot springs and all those overlooked places that hold their own brand of magic. When not out frolicking in rivers and embarking on adventures with her 11-year-old son, Thaya hosts music evenings in her town, cooks from her vegetable garden and has her nose in classic literature.

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What Others are Saying

4 comments about The Definitive Guide to Kalk Bay
  1. December 7th, 2009 at 15:24
    Derryn says:

    Just to let you know that ‘Brad’s Bistro’ has recently undergone a name change (hopefully the last in a long line) and will soon be branded as 19-on-Main Bistro.

    Famous lamb chops remain on the menu but we’ve added few more dishes reflective of the local flavours and a breakfast bar plus extra windows so that you can enjoy your meal while watching the whales (when they’re visiting) or the surfers who brave the water every day of the year.

  2. August 18th, 2010 at 23:53
    jo demblon says:

    love all the descriptive info. Makes me so grateful to be a resident in such a heavenly place. Have moved my exciting colourful persian carpet shop from my garage to unique rustic premises at 19 main road kalk bay. On the sea side,directly opposite artvark. Come sip a capuccino or a glass of wine, with the soothing sounds of frank sinatra in the backround, whilst u leisurely choose a vibrant carpet that will transform your home. Simply a fabulous way to shop and unwind. See you soon.

  3. August 19th, 2010 at 00:04
    jo demblon says:

    JAPS, jo’s antique persian carpets and kelims have moved from jo’s garage up the road to lovely rustic premises at 19 main road, kalk bay. Come and sip a capuccino or a glass of wine, with the soothing sounds of frank sinatra in the backround, while u leisurely select and fall in love with your special carpet. Simply a fabulous way to shop and unwind.

  4. November 30th, 2010 at 18:02
    Cilla says:

    Where is JAPS now, 30 November 2010?