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Kalk Bay: The Complete Guide to Doing, Eating and Relaxing

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4 weeks ago

Kalk Bay began life as a fishing village and is now a suburb of Cape Town on the False Bay side of the cape. Visitors often pass through on their way to the penguin’s at Boulder’s Beach but there are surprisingly quite a few good reasons to stop in Kalk Bay and neighboring St James, if even for an afternoon.

It’s only about a 30- to 40-minute drive from the Atlantic side of Cape Town to the False Bay side where Kalk Bay sits, so it’s easy for a quick day trip or just a visit to do some of the exciting things (or eat some of the exciting flavors) in Kalk Bay.

What to do

Boomslang Cave

This isn’t one for the claustrophobic among us. Boomslang Cave is a fun summer afternoon activity that is only about 2-3 hours including the one hour that it takes to hike up to the cave entrance. The entrance to the cave is quite narrow, but the actual cave itself on the other side is massive so you’ll have plenty of room once you’re inside.

This is a popular activity with everyone from seasoned cavers to families with young children, but if you want to explore the other caves (Oread Halls and Robin Hood’s Cavern), you might want to consider going with an experienced guide who knows the paths within the caves. It is very easy to lose your way, and you don’t want that in a cave.

Local tip: Pack a headlamp (your phone lot is categorically not sufficient). And you’ll be crawling, so wear pants.

Boomslang Cave is relatively easy to access from Kalk Bay. Climb up to Boyes Drive, following the signs for Echo Valley to the cave entrance. Make sure to keep an eye out for the bats roosting on the ceiling. Once you finish with the cave, you’ll emerge to a calming, birds-eye view of Fishhoek.

Spes Bona

If you don’t want to go caving, the walk through the Spes Bona forest is probably the highlight of any excursion to Boomslang Cave.

If you’ve hiked up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head, you’re either all hiked out, or you want a much less busy hike. If it’s the latter, we highly recommend the Spes Bona trail for great views of False Bay that is very often not particularly busy. The best place to get on the trail is from Kalk Bay.

Warm beaches

Capetonians know that the beaches on the Atlantic side are wild and pretty, but Atlantic beaches are usually too cold for an enjoyable swim. Kalk Bay is positioned on the False Bay side of the Cape so the water here is much warmer than the Atlantic side. There are a few tidal pools in Kalk Bay at St James and at Dalebrook which are lovely for a swim.

Just 10 minutes down the road from Kalk Bay is Simon’s Town which, among other things, is home to Water’s Edge Beach, the perfect secluded cove for an early morning swim. The real attraction to Water’s Edge Beach that only locals know about is, if you go early enough, you can usually swim with the penguins or just watch them hanging out on the rocks, rather than look at them from a distance at Boulder’s Beach.

Whale Watching

You may come across whale spotters on your hike up to Spes Bona forest or the caves. False Bay, being the bay that Kalk Bay overlooks, is known for being one of the best spots to watch southern right whales during their migration season. The best time to see the whales is September and October, though if you want to make sure you see the whales, go with a tour to Hermanus.

Where to eat

Our best places to eat in Kalk Bay aren’t necessarily just for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Though most of these will open for all mealtimes, some of them are better for different times of the day – but you can’t go wrong with any time!

Breakfast

For breakfast, the local favorites are Lekker and Bob’s Bagels. Lekker is better if you want a sit-down breakfast, but Bob’s Bagels is an easy start to the day and feels like you’re part of the calm routine of Capetonians. Either way, the Cape Town lifestyle demands that you have breakfast – it’s the most important meal of the day.

Lekker also serves one of the best fat cakes that you can get in Cape Town (and the milk tart is excellent, too).

Lunch

Harbour House

Harbour House has cemented its place as one of the best waterfront restaurants in Cape Town. The Kalk Bay branch of Harbour House is the perfect stop after seeing the penguins at Boulder’s Beach and is perched right at the top of the rocks so you get an excellent view of over the bay while enjoying your lunch.

If they have the miso sea bass on the menu, get it. The chefs have perfected the flavor.

Kalky’s

Kalky’s near the pier serves some of the best fish & chips in Cape Town and is an eatery that has ascended to the level of an institution. Capetonians of every generation know and love Kalky’s, and it’s an idyllic spot to sit with your fish & chips and watch the water over False Bay. Don’t expect anything fancy at Kalky’s, but do expect a great lunch.

Chardonnay Deli

Chardonnay Deli is one of the better options for lunch. It’s located directly in front of the Dalebrook Tidal Pool in St James (which is technically the next suburb over from Kalk Bay) so it’s great for that post-swim lunch. The menu is quite varied, and the little deli is also a great place to pick up some local produce to take home with you.

What Chardonnay Deli does best is its sweets. Their white chocolate and lime cheesecake is absolutely fantastic and will make you want to want to stay the afternoon so you have a bit more.

Dinner

SALT

SALT is a tapas-style restaurant that is great for a casual lunch or dinner with a lovely view over Kalk Bay harbor. If you’re strugglign to pick something from the handwritten board, you cannot look past the butternut squash ravioli. Try it and we won’t be surprised if you return to SALT for another meal in Kalk Bay.

SIROCCO

SIROCCO is great for lunch, dinner or just drinks, but it really comes alive for sunset dinner and then drinks. You’ll get only the freshest ingredients no matter what time of day you go, and in summer there is normally a DJ on the decks (not just in the evening).

The whole restaurant screams cool and vibey, so make sure to leave time for a for a long meal. This is the restaurant that epitomizes the Cape Town lifestyle of good vibes and fun times, so depending on the night, expect dancing and lots of revelry.

Special Mention: The Seafood Linguine at Olympia’s Cafe

I thought long and hard about how to properly convey this: the seafood linguine pasta at Olympia’s Cafe is the best I’ve had. Ever. In the whole world. And it’s the best that you’ll have. I was sceptical at first sight (the toilets of the restaurant leave much to be desired), but the team has mastered the seafood linguine.

And it’s not just the closely guarded recipe, it’s the freshness and quality of the seafood that goes into the seafood linguine which makes it so ridiculously delicious, and above anything else you’ll ever try. They’re incredibly unfazed about how good their seafood linguine is – it’s usually at the bottom of their chalkboard menu.

Where to stay

Most visitors will choose to stay in Sea Point, Camps Bay and Bantry Bay, but if you want to be away from the hustle and bustle – or if warmer water for swimming is your priority – then Kalk Bay is an excellent place to stay. We recommend Chartfield Guesthouse for a more upscale experience right in the middle of Kalk Bay.

Another great option just a little bit further up from Kalk Bay in neighboring St James is the St James Guesthouses which is perfectly positioned on the mountain for a beautiful view. It’s also exceptionally modern and has a vibe that makes you feel like you’re somewhere special. And it’s right next to the Dalebrook Tidal Pool for our swimmers.

If you need somewhere a little bigger, Kalk Bay is an excellent and cheaper place to stay with a bigger group. Vrbo has great short-let options – and the sizes of the houses (mansions) will blow you away.


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