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Hout Bay is a place of great beauty. Stretching along a river in a valley surrounded by magnificent mountains, it faces a wide sweep of white beach on a heavenly blue bay.
A small seaside town on the Atlantic Ocean, it is surrounded by dramatic scenery and nature reserves, about half an hour’s drive out of Cape Town.
Hout Bay has some of the most exquisite views of the Cape and is accessible from three mountain passes, Suikerbossie, Constantia Nek and Chapman’s Peak. The mountains shelter the bay, soaring up on one side to the Sentinel, and the rocky cliffs of Chapman’s Peak on the other side.
The quaint little town developed from a fishing village. Hout Bay is a popular seaside resort as well as one of the busiest harbours in the Western Cape. With a working fishing fleet, it is an important centre of the snoek, tuna and crayfish industry. The boats can be seen setting out to sea on the bay at about 4am every morning.
Due to Hout Bay’s wonderful environment and relaxed atmosphere it is very popular with local and international tourists. It is still rural with equestrian estates and small holdings, and a great base for a holiday in the Cape.
Things to do
Hout Bay is perfect for outdoor activities in nature, as there are beaches, mountains, forests and sea. There are also many restaurants around the town, and pubs with music in the evenings.
Beach and Bay The extraordinary long and widely curving beach is good for swimming, surfing, kayaking, fishing and sailing. Frequented by people walking their dogs or riding horses, it looks out over the huge aquamarine blue bay. The sea view is different every day, changing colour from deep indigo purples to iridescent blues. Surfing Hout Bay has one of the Worlds 16 Big Wave Spots, called the Dungeons. Waves up to 47 feet have been recorded there.
Hiking The large mountain peaks surrounding the bay have hiking trails leading to spectacular views over the Atlantic. The views from the top of the mountains are stupendous. Myburgh's Waterfall Ravine Trail is one of the hikes, with beautiful waterfalls during the winter and the red Disa orchid flower during the summer. It is a hike requiring stamina.
Scenic Drives All three mountain passes into Hout Bay have awe inspiring views.
Suikerbossie Drive goes through the Nature Reserve over the Twelve Apostle Mountains, past Camps Bay and along the coastline to the city. With the majestic mountains on one side and the sparkling ocean on the other it is 13kms of gorgeous scenic beauty. Constantia Nek The road to Constantia Nek winds up past the Orangekloof Forests, over to the other side of the Table Mountain Range and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.The Orangekloof Forest Reserve is a restricted protected area of rare Afromontane Forest. Special permits can be booked for the wild forest mountain trails.
Chapman's Peak Drive One of the most scenic drives in the world, the narrow road is cut into the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. An amazing feat in engineering, it was built in 1915 and redone to international safety standards in 2009. The road to Noordhoek is nine kms of dramatically beautiful scenery, winding precariously along the cliff face, with views over the sea. The narrow road passes through the fynbos Nature Reserve on the towering mountains, with sheer drops up to 600 ms to the sea below. There are several places to park and admire the views. There are many other extremely beautiful drives all around the Cape Peninsula.
Shops There are quirky little boho and art and craft shops in the town, as well as large supermarkets for provisions. Hout Bay has a wide variety of unusual shops and art galleries.
Markets The popular Bay Harbour Market is open over the weekends and has more than 100 stalls, an eclectic wonderland of art and craft, food, fashion, and decor. There are juice bars and a large scrumptious array of food. Musicians create a cheerful atmosphere, it is a great family venue, and dogs are welcome too. The Hout Bay Market on the village green, open every sunday from 10 till 4, is one of the finest markets in the Cape. It attracts talented artists and crafters from far and wide, and has a wide range of hand crafts, jewellery, pottery, clothes and plants.
The Marina’s Wharf has a restaurant, bakery, fish market, antique and pearl shops with lovely views of the harbour.
The World of Birds The Bird and Monkey Park in Valley Road is the largest sanctuary in Africa, with 3000 birds and 400 species, an extraordinary exotic colourful collection, including many rare birds. There are over 100 aviaries in large landscaped spacious walk- through aviaries. The sanctuary supports conservation and propagation of rare species in a protected natural environment, and is open from 9 to 5 every day.
Boat Trips and Cruises The Harbour is always busy with fishermen and the Atlantic Boat Club and Yacht Clubs. Boat tours and charters, speed boats and jet skis are available. A cruise leaves several times a day to Seal Island off the coast to see a Cape Fur Seal colony . The powered catamaran with glass windows below deck provides fascinating views of the ocean, and is a fun way to spend an hour.
The Hout Bay Art Gallery was established in 1984 and specializes in South African art. The Hout Bay Vineyards high up on the slopes of the mountain are open for wine tasting by appointment. Horse Riding is available at a couple of the Riding Stables.
Where to Eat
As a fishing harbour, Hout Bay has the best seafood restaurants, with fish straight from the sea. The Wharfside Grill at the Mariner’s Wharf on the harbour has superb seafood and amazing views. The fisherman's basket includes lobster, prawns and other fresh fish. The Lookout Deck at the harbour has a wooden deck suspended over the water and a wonderful view over the ocean. For a casual meal, Fish on the Rocks have a relaxed cheerful environment and serve fresh fish and chips in cardboard boxes with plastic knives and forks.
The Dunes Beach Restaurant and Bar has an idyllic setting overlooking the beach and bay, and a playground for children. It is open most of the day. Kitima is a restaurant with Royal Thai cuisine, in the beautiful Kronendal manor house. Kronendal Estate was the first farm in Hout Bay, established in the 1670’s. The 17th century Cape Dutch house is an important national monument, an exceptionally elegant example of refined Cape Dutch architecture.
Papino’s serve traditional italian meals. The restaurant has a romantic atmosphere and wood fire pizzas. Pure have gourmet food for exclusive fine dining, with the freshest ingredients, in an elegantly casual atmosphere at Hout Bay Manor. Scarecrows caters for families. They have activities for the children, and the menu has a wide selection of dishes.
Where to Stay
Hout Bay has self catering accommodation from traditional to modern, tiny cottages to large houses with swimming pools, a large variety in very different settings and landscapes. Many have amazing views. Hout Bay is great for family holidays as there is such a wealth of entertainment and outdoor activities available for children. There are luxury apartments, guest houses, boutique hotels, country estates, villas and forest lodges. There is something for all tastes and requirements, and Hout Bay still retains a rural atmosphere.
Air Cape Town International Airport is about 30 kms from Hout Bay.
Car The easiest way to get around Hout Bay is to rent a car. There are car rental agencies in the town.
Taxis Taxis, including Uber, and shuttle services are available. Bus The MyCiti bus, an efficient luxury service, goes from Hout Bay to Cape Town through Sea Point.
Did you know?
Hout Bay has a Mediterranean climate, with an average summer temperature around 25 degrees and 14 degrees in winter.
The name Hout Bay refers to the bay, the town, the river and the entire valley.
Hout Bay is encircled by mountains to the north, east, west and the Atlantic to the south.
In the1650’s Jan Van Riebeeck named the area Hout Bay, meaning Wood Bay, as it was densely wooded. The forests were used to build the Castle and early Cape Town.
Thereafter it was split into 2 farms and slowly became urbanised as those were subdivided. Even until recently it was very rural, and there are now 28 defined areas.
In 1867 a small rural fishing village on a farm was established in Hout Bay and it gradually became a rustic seaside town.