Quaint, quirky Simonstown has beaches, bugles and bric a brac galore...It’s easy to find too: just hop on the train and don’t get off till the last stop!
Find treasure at the Scratch Patch
It goes without saying that the kids will love scrabbling on their hands and knees for semi-precious gems, but what’s surprising is how addictive it is for adults too. Grab a container (a small bag is only R17) and fill it with treasure. Not bling enough for you? Stock up on more valuable rocks and glittering curios in one of two on-site shops.
Snorkel with seals
Rudy and the guys at Ollavatake their SCUBA seriously, but they also offer a fantastic beginners’ snorkelling trip to frolic with the seals at nearby Partridge Point. For only R650 you can get (extremely!) up close and personal with False Bay’s friendliest mammals. As an added bonus the boat ride to the dive spot offers unrivalled penguin-spotting opportunities.
Eat, drink and be merry
For such a small place, Simonstown has a lot of top-notch eateries and watering holes. For down-to-earth fish ’n chips you can’t beat Salty Sea Dog, while the more sophisticated among us (that’s not me) will love The Meeting Place Upstairs which has a larney menu and the best views in town.
The Aeropress coffee at Monocle & Mermaid is to die for (and it gets extra points for the ‘No Hipsters’ sign outside) and the Two & Sixpence Tavern is a lively local in a 100-year-old building that’s popular among locals, sailors and tourists alike. For something a bit snootier try the pub at the Lord Nelson Inn which has an impressive collection of Scotch.
All Capetonians have heard of Just Nuisance, but visitors from afar may be confused that a statue of a Great Dane occupies pride of place in Jubilee Square. But Just Nuisance was no ordinary dog… He rode the train by himself and was formally enlisted to the Royal Navy. Between 1937 and 1944 he became the darling of Simonstown, and the local museum has an entire section dedicated to him. When he was finally laid to rest, the ceremony included a firing party of Royal Marines and a lone Bugler. Check out this informative webpage for his full life story.
In the navy
Simonstown has forever been a navy town. It was proclaimed the official winter harbour of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in 1744 and, when the British took over it became the main base of the Royal Navy in South Africa. It is now the headquarters of the South African navy.
But enough with the history lesson, what does this mean for you? Well, it’s the best place in the country to snap a #sailorselfie and it’s also the only place you can tour a submarine…Although said submarine is currently out of the water undergoing repairs.
Short back & sides
Fringe Retro Salon more than delivers on its promise to ‘bring glamour back’. Cool guys and girls from all over Cape Town flock here for its eco-friendly approach to beauty. Why not turn it into a family outing and klap the beach after you’ve been shorn, Sean?
No we didn’t forget the penguins
No visit to Simonstown is complete without checking in on its most famous residents. The first pair of Penguins arrived at Boulders in 1983 but the colony now has more than 2000 birds. If you visit in summer you can even swim in the calm, crystalline waters…As long as you’re prepared to shiver, that is. Entrance is R60, but it’s free if you have a Wild Card.
Written by: Nick Dall