10 Undiscovered Secrets of the Southern Cape Peninsula
When you think of the Mother City, you think of Blouberg Beach, Table Mountain, and probably Cape Point. If you think about the Southern Peninsula, you might think of Boulders Beach, Chapman’s Peak and Noordhoek Beach, but do you ever think about what lies between these touristy hot spots? Actually, this region boasts a plethora of culinary and outdoor adventure delights that are mostly unknown to anyone who’s not a local.
“Known fondly by its inhabitants as the Deep South, the southerly part of the Cape Peninsula offers spectacular natural beauty, and a range of quirky and unusual activities that are often missed by the hasty traveller. It is a place that attracts people who seek a quieter lifestyle while still being able to access the urban delights of the City Bowl. Here one can find an eclectic mix of village lifestyle in Kommetjie and Scarborough, enjoy the pastoral equestrian lifestyle and great restaurants of Noordhoek, experience the holiday seaside atmosphere of sleepy Muizenberg and bustling Fish Hoek, stroll the cafes, art galleries, and collectible shops of Kalk Bay or sample the nautical and naval atmosphere of historic Simonstown. Here live entrepreneurs, artists, fisherfolk, artisans, retirees, crafters, architects, musicians, shopkeepers, suburbanites and restaurateurs, plying their business, or just enjoying what the valley has to offer. Its relative remoteness from the City Bowl means that a lot of things here are treasured local secrets, not experienced by the tourist visiting the penguin colony, Cape Point and Chapmans Peak on their fast-paced tour of the peninsula.”
– Steve Erlank, Deep South Distillery
We simply couldn’t have said it better ourselves ─ come discover the quieter side of the Southern Peninsula with TravelGround as your tour guide!
Deep South Distillery, Kommetjie
One such quirky business is Deep South Distillery, the southernmost craft distillery in the peninsula. Making beautiful gins, rums and vodkas in small batches of carefully crafted spirits, the distillery has been adopted by many in the valley as ‘their’ distillery. With its unusual upside-down penguin as a logo, it is full of surprises. Its unassuming, industrial exterior opens into a well-equipped, professional working distillery with gleaming tanks, stills and equipment, as well as a bar and tasting area. It offers an intimate tour of the distillery, where visitors get the chance to understand and experience the business of craft spirits, followed by a tasting of the distillery’s products. The owner and distiller, Steve Erlank, is frequently on hand to share his passion for great spirits. Although the distillery has only been open for a few months, its Cape Dry Gin (a London Dry style gin with cape botanicals grown on the mountainside) won Double Gold at Michelangelo Wine and Spirits awards before the distillery actually opened, and its beautiful pink Ruby gin was awarded a Gold medal recently by the South African Women’s Wine and Spirit awards.
The distillery can also be rented as a venue for private tastings and events, and is becoming a quirky venue for book clubs, societies, and birthday parties. In the next few months, leading into summer, the distillery will be offering themed evenings with a range of activities from blending one’s own gin recipe to gin mixology where one can experiment with a range of mixers and garnishings.
Hout Bay Vineyards, Hout Bay
Hout Bay Vineyards is truly a family affair in every sense of the word. In the early 2000’s, Peter and Cathy began excavations for their dream house at the top of Grotto Way in Hout Bay and planted their first vines in September of 2003 with the aim to produce their favourite beverage, bubbly! After a few years of struggle, they officially opened the vineyard in 2007 which now, with help from other local vineyards, produces an excellent MCC, dry rosé, sauvignon blanc, merlot, shiraz, red blend and even port.
During harvest time, Peter and Cathy encourages anyone interested to come along, help and have fun! It’s usually a family affair with the kids, relatives and friends joining the festivities. The wines from Hout Bay Vineyards are mainly available on open days, but Peter and Cathy also accommodate those who have run low on stock at other times and welcome visits, tastings and sales by appointment only.
The Hub Café at The Village Hub, Scarborough
As one of the most southern towns on the Cape Peninsula, many visitors, locals and visitors alike, see scenic Scarborough merely as a pretty place to pass through on the way to Cape Point. At most, travellers are aware of the white and sandy Scarborough beach, and not much else. That’s why we’re so glad we discovered The Village Hub and particularly The Hub Café! Located on the top floor, the café’s balcony is the ideal spot to admire the view of the ocean whilst sipping champagne and feasting on fresh West Coast Oysters. The dreamy combo of a relaxed and convivial atmosphere and a balanced menu of mouth-watering dishes will keep you coming back for more! Downstairs you’ll find Foragers Deli & Wholefoods which has an outdoor café serving breakfast and lunch and boasts a variety of local health foods sourced from local farmers.
Seal Snorkelling, Hout Bay
You might have heard of shark-cage diving and swimming with dolphins, but have you ever thought of snorkelling with seals? Well, thanks to Animal Ocean in Hout Bay you now have the opportunity to observe and engage with the Cape Fur seals in their natural environment! After a mere fifteen minute boat ride from the Hout Bay Harbour, you will be able to watch these curious animals play around and interact! The enthusiastic owner and zoologist, Steve Benjamin, and his team of marine guides will take you out on 8 m inflatable boats (takes up to 10 snorkelers) for a fascinating trip of about 3 hours in total. All snorkelling equipment, a seal guide, transfer from the office to the Harbour, boat ride, educational briefing, water, biscuits, hot chocolate, hot water to pour in your wetsuit after the snorkel, along with tea and coffee at the office and 2 minute rinse-off showers are included in the rates (R900 for seal snorkelers and R600 for boat riders). You don’t need to be an expert diver but adequate swimming skills are required. Snorkelers need to be 10 years or older but boat viewers can be 6 years and older, so it’s the perfect activity for the whole family. Seal snorkelling is possible from September till May, so start planning your excursion for the summer holidays!
Village Roast, Noordhoek
Even though this roastery was established only a couple of years ago, it has already made its mark on the Deep South community and beyond. Guy, the owner, shared his intent with starting Village Roast with us: “[I had] a vision of sharing the growing interest around coffee. I love how it seems to invite people from all walks of life to simply chat. The art of conversation seems to be getting lost to debate. Yet with a good cup of coffee stimulation removes that competitive edge and simple pleasant conversation happens. I love that about people.” This has culminated in a quaint little takeaway coffee shop at the idyllic Noordhoek Farm Village in the heart of Noordhoek, attracting everyone from local cyclists after an early morning ride along Chapman’s Peak to tourists exploring everything this quaint village has to offer. Pop by for a delicious (and affordable!) flat white anytime between 06:30 – 14:30. The roastery provides coffee to various local restaurants in the Deep South and also has an online store if you crave more after you’ve tried your first cup!
Urban Brewing Co., Hout Bay
Besides a boutique wine estate, Hout Bay also has its very own brewery ─ who knew? Urban Brewing Co. uses traditional brewing methods with a twist, offering a refreshing blend of good oldfashioned beer and the latest trends. They depend on resources and inspiration from the immediate environment, like natural spring water sourced directly from the Hout Bay mountains, and aim to outlast the transitory craft beer fad ─ craft in a different class, so to speak. Their range consists of five beers, each with its own fascinating backstory and quirky design. The brewery welcomes visitors for tastings and often hosts events on the premises, like live music performances and sport events. The venue is also available to hire for on-site functions and they can provide party kegs and refreshments for off-site events. But first, pop in to give their beers a try and find your favourite brew!
E-bike tours from Hout Bay to Noordhoek
GONOW Electric Bicycles is an innovative rental and retail electrical bike company that mainly operates from 253 Main Road in Seapoint, but gives you the chance to hit the road from Hout Bay to Noordhoek for a scenic ride that will offer you unparalleled views from Chapman’s Peak Drive. GONOW offers sales, rentals and fun group rides for young and old (recommended to those aged 10 years and older) to enjoy ─ no extreme fitness levels required! The bikes are electric-powered and easy to ride since they do most of the work for you, so you can look forward to a sweat-free cycling experience that will make it easy to breeze past any traffic jams and simply enjoy the view and ride! Isn’t that convenient?
Monocle and Mermaid, Simon’s Town
A chef, a hunter and a barista walked into a bar, and decided to start a café. Locals might not be surprised to see this one on the list but if you’re not familiar with Monocle and Mermaid, let’s just say there’s a reason they claim to have the best burgers, beer and flat whites in the South. This quirky spot in Simon’s Town’s main road specialises in coffee, ethical venison and vegetarian dishes and a unique menu featuring dishes like ‘the Venedict’ ─ a succulent Eland Steak with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and pomme frites. The café’s interior has a rustic seafaring theme and features quirky artworks that inspire a laid-back atmosphere. The outdoor seating offers a view of the bustling main road and the perfect opportunity for people-watching. Over weekends they stay open in the evenings to serve cocktails, tapas and a variety of G&T’s and often host live music events supporting local artists. Come on, don’t miss out on the best burgers, beer and flat whites in town!
Address: Shop no. 1 St George’s Building, St George’s Street, Simon’s Town
Contact: 021 786 1370
Hundreds of foodies, surfers, hipsters and families flock to Surfer’s Corner every weekend and weekday evenings, unaware of this locally loved pizzeria and burger restaurant just around the corner in Main Road. Many reviewers claim they serve the best pizza in the South and besides the great variety, they also offer both gluten free and banting options. Tuesdays night is burger night which means you get any of their eight burgers for only R70 and from Tuesday to Thursday, 12:00 to 21:00, they offer 2 large pizzas for R140! To top it all off, Ovenbaked has a super relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere and surf-inspired decor that will make everyone feel at home. Escape the bustle of the beachfront and pop in at Ovenbaked for good food at a great price.
Herbal Hike with Khoi heritage, Karbonkelberg
Hiking in South Africa is synonymous with exploring and experiencing nature, mountains and stunning views, and there is most definitely no shortage of hiking trails along the Cape Peninsula. A hiking experience booked with Karbonkelberg Tourism offers you even more. An experienced guide will help you discover some ancient heritage and traditions of which some are even practiced to this very day ─ whether it is walking the paths our forefathers took, out foraging or exploring nature, having amazing lookout points, and also caring for their families with spiritual rituals of praise through song, dance and rhythmic drumming. You will also be shown how to forage for herbal remedies in a sustainable way by using indigenous plants growing on the very mountain terrain you’re exploring. At the end of the day you will leave enriched with an authentic cultural experience and insight you could only have gained by connecting with locals in this seaside fisher community!
If you’re going to be doing so much tasting and exploring, you’ll need to lay your head down at least every 12 hours, so click here to book your stay on the Southern Peninsula:
Have you discovered any other fascinating experiences and local hot spots worth sharing in the South? Let us know in the comments below!
Feature image: Bigstock