Once a densely forested fishing village, this little town was named Hout Bay (meaning “wood bay”) in honour of the beautiful woods on the mountains all around the little fishing hub. In fact, Jan van Riebeeck is reported to have said that these were the most beautiful forests he had ever seen. However, most of the timber was harvested by these original settlers for the building of the fort and ports.
Although Hout Bay has become a very popular tourist epicentre, it holds tightly to its intimate, laid-back lifestyle, which permeates just about every part of its identity, including the locals that boast this town as their residential address. Its natural beauty is undeniable, as it is surrounded on three sides by mountains. The fourth is left to the exquisite blue of the Atlantic Ocean.
Hout Bay is about 20 to 30 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, depending on where in the Mother City you are heading. It is accessible via Chapman’s Peak and Camps Bay, coming over the mountain and almost straight into the City Bowl. There is also a road leading into Constantia via Constantia Nek Pass. So, while relatively secluded, Hout Bay is in no way cut off from all of the excitement and activities carrying on in the heart of Cape Town.
Interestingly, the Hout Bay harbour is one of the top 10 attractions in Cape Town. It is beautifully enticing in its own right, and boasts a marina for yachts and boats. Since this is still a working fishing harbour, visitors can watch the local fishermen bringing in their catch while enjoying fresh fish and chips served in the traditional newspaper. There is a craft market at the harbour, which means that there is something awesome for everyone to see (including the shopaholics amongst us).
Chapman’s Peak is a marine route that extends from Noordhoek to Hout Bay. It is recognised as being one of the most scenic and exquisite in the world. The vast expanse of the sun-speckled ocean lies beneath you while you negotiate 114 twists and turns in the road. It extends for nine kilometres and has a number of places at which to stop and take photographs. A toll applies when travelling on Chapman’s Peak.
The very popular World of Birds is located in Hout Bay. This is a sanctuary that is recognised as being the largest bird park on the African continent. There are walk-through aviaries that home more than 3 000 different birds. Other animals showcased here include meerkat, monkeys, foxes, racoons, porcupines, squirrels, baboons, marmoset monkeys, terrapins, iguanas, monitors and tortoises.
The Hout Bay Museum provides visitors with an interesting perspective of this historical area. There are a number of photographs and stories to immerse guests in the heritage and charm of this village. The museum is small and located next to the tourism office in Andrews Road.
Other popular activities in Hout Bay include:
- Watersports including jet-skiing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, snorkelling and swimming
Of course, being located so nearby to the centre of Cape Town means that Hout Bay is close to all of the attractions of the big city. Do not miss out the opportunity to travel up Table Mountain, see the exquisite wine farms of the Cape Winelands and enjoy a shopping spree and scenic lunch at the V&A Waterfront.