My friend Brian – tall, skinny and covered with tattoos, is a waiter in one of the trendiest restaurants in Camps Bay. I’m waiting for him to get off work in an hour so we can go down to the beach and to fill the time, he is giving me the low-down on the mating habits of the Greater Spotted Camps Bay Trendoid.
“See the guy over there wearing the giant mirrored sunglasses?” he asks. I look over to where he is gesturing. “You’re gonna have to be more specific than that, mate” I reply, “they’re all wearing giant mirrored sunglasses.”
He surreptitiously points to a guy inexplicably wearing a white suit on one of the hottest days of the year. “He’s some kind of big-shot architect. “The model he’s with is the new Guess girl,” he says, “and he just asked for one of our most expensive whiskeys, with a Coke mixer.” Money, it seems, can’t buy good taste.
But it can buy you an amazing house, a ridiculously flashy car and a white Chihuahua named Fritz, and most of Camps Bay’s residents have all three. This little cove of affluence is undeniably Cape Town’s playground for the rich and famous.
Likened to St Tropez, the area is home to many of the city’s rich and famous, and attracts tourists and locals alike who either are, or aspire to, live the high life. Reached from Cape Town via Seapoint, on Victoria Road, over the mountain at Kloof Nek, or from the Hout Bay side along the Twelve Apostles, Camps Bay lies in a sheltered bay backed by Table Mountain.
The town’s history is not nearly as glamorous but stretches back almost to the arrival of Jan Van Riebeeck in the Cape, when it was granted in 1700 to John Lodewyk Wernich, who built his farm, Ravensteyn on the land, then known as Roodekrantz, because of the red tint of the soil. When Wernich passed away, his wife remarried, and her new husband’s name, Fredrik Ernst Von Kamptz, leaves little doubt as to the origins of the modern name – Camps Bay.
The area has a colourful history, having been fortified by the French in the late 18th century, during their battles with the English, and when the farm was destroyed by these battles, the government bought the land back, and established two small batteries.
Much later on, in 1855, Captain Glendinning, then the only permanent resident in the area, attempted to sell 40 plots in Camps Bay, however, even his announcement that there was gold to be found in Camps Bay could not generate interest. If only Captain Glendinning had known the attention his piece of real estate would generate in modern days! Property in Camps Bay is now some of the most expensive and sought after in the Western Cape.
As far as modern Camps Bay is concerned, most of the activities in the area are dedicated to pure hedonism and decadence. Lazing on the beach, taking in a show at the Theatre on the Bay, or visiting one of the many restaurants, bars and coffee shops that line the main road alongside the beach are some of the most strenuous activities that locals and tourists are likely to encounter.
There are a few hiking trails in the area, and a popular activity for locals is to hike up the mountain at Kloof Nek and watch the moon rise over the mother city.
If you’re like most though, you will want to take advantage of the pristine beaches, lined with lush green shaded lawns, maybe take a swim in the cool water, and watch the pleasure crafts loaded with revelers pass by en route to neighboring Clifton.
This, followed up with a cocktail in one of the trendy bars overlooking the beaches, while you split your attention between celebrity spotting, and watching the sun set over the water, is just about what every day in Camps Bay is like.