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The Ultimate Cape Peninsula Road Trip from Cape Town

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1 month ago

One of the quintessential Cape Town experiences is getting on the road and doing a loop of the Cape Peninsula. There are few places in the world which are as naturally stunning as this stretch of coastline, and you’ll create memories that will stay with you in your onward travels.

There are quite a few stops that can be made along the way, so we’ve surveyed Capetonians and traveled the route ourselves to create this ultimate Cape Peninsula road trip. You’ll cover everything from mountain peaks to penguins to one of the most scenic drives in the world.

How to pick the right day to get on the road

Cape Town is a beautiful place for so many reasons, not least because of the stunning sights you will see on your drive. The unfortunate reality is that Cape Town can be quite windy (it’s one of the reasons that the Cape of Good Hope is considered dangerous for ships). You should choose a less windy day for your road trip to make sure it’s the most enjoyable experience.

Travel tip: Check the wind forecasts before you set off because the wind can really affect your day.

The Cape Peninsula Road Trip Itinerary

Make sure to bookmark this article for easy access to the below Google Maps itinerary for your Cape Peninsula road trip. There’s a lot to cover in one day so you want to make sure you plan ahead.

8 am: Cape Town to Kalk Bay

We’re starting our road trip on the False Bay side, simply because the sun rises on that side so you will have more daylight if you begin in that direction (this is a big day so we want to make sure we’re efficient). Assuming traffic conditions are in your favor (the earlier the better – you can get locked in miles of traffic close to Kalk Bay), you should arrive at Kalk Bay at 9 am.

9 am: Breakfast in Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay is your first stop. This dreamy fishing village overlooks False Bay and is built on the slopes of mountains. Get yourself to Lekker or Olympia Café for breakfast. If you’re looking for something quicker, get a takeaway bagel and coffee from Bob’s Bagels and then go sit on the other side of the train tracks overlooking the beach.

Local tip: Olympia Café serves what might be the best seafood linguine in the world.

The seafood linguine is only on their lunch menu (starting from 12 pm). It’s very much worth a return trip to Kalk Bay – trust me. (And if do return, make sure you get the white sauce seafood linguine, not the red sauce.) Olympia Café is an institution of the Kalk Bay community and you’ll find out why very quickly.

10 am: Penguins at Boulder’s Beach

If you decided not to do breakfast in Kalk Bay, an excellent option is The Lighthouse Cafe in Simon’s Town which also has great fish & chips with a sea view. But you’re not in Simon’s Town for fish & chips; you’re in Simon’s Town for the adorable penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach.

Boulder’s Beach is famous for its penguin colony which really is quite a sight. If you managed to do a safari in South Africa (and you absolutely should), you’ll get to add another animal to your list of sightings.

If you like to snorkel, you can rent affordable snorkel equipment for a couple of hours at Pisces Divers which is on the road from Kalk Bay to Simon’s Town. After you see the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, head to Windmill Beach for a snorkel – or wait for Smitswinkel Bay below.

12 pm: Snorkeling at Smitswinkel Bay

The last bay on the False Bay side of the cape, Smitswinkel Bay is a tiny collection of houses nestled between Cape Point Nature Reserve and Simon’s Town where you’ve just come from.

I hope you kept your snorkeling gear in the car because you’ll be walking down from the road to Smitswinkel Beach which is absolutely fantastic for snorkeling. Smitswinkel Bay is the last bay on the False Bay side of the cape and is ideal for snorkeling because of the sheer volume of wildlife. It’s only a 15-minute walk down to Smitswinkel Beach from the road.

The beach isn’t clearly signposted and requires you to walk 15-20 minutes down a steep footpath to the beach from the road, but you’ll be rewarded with one of the best beaches in Cape Town that is tranquil, serene and untouched. This is the crystal clear water and pristine sand that you’ve been waiting for, all with a panoramic view of False Bay to boot.

And if you’d rather something other than snorkel, you can take a dip in the rock pools or enter the grottos in the southern end of the beach during low tide.

1 pm: Scones and Ostriches

You’ll find The Scone Shack just before you enter Cape Point Nature Reserve. The name is a bit of a misnomer because it is actually a stunning farm with a dam, and they happen to make tasty, big scones and homemade jam on an open fire.

Travel tip: Make sure to bring cash with you if you plan to go to The Scone Shack.

And check its opening hours. Unfortunately, it’s closed more often than it’s open.

The Cape Point Ostrich Farm is an oddly interesting place to stop during your Cape Peninsula road trip, maybe because you can buy an ostrich egg which is the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs. And you can see the baby ostriches which are just adorable.

Thankfully, Cape Point Ostrich Farm doesn’t let you ride the ostriches as some ostrich farms do. If you go elsewhere and you are offered the opportunity to do ride an ostrich, you should say no. The simple reason is that one must sit on an ostrich’s neck to ride them, so each time you ride an ostrich you are further breaking its neck.

The tours at Cape Point Ostrich Farm run every half hour between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm. The tour is worth it, not least because you’ll get to see the wildlife rehabilitation center. You’ll also learn interesting new knowledge like the fact that ostriches eat stones because they don’t have any stomach acid to break down food.

2:30 pm: Cape Point Nature Reserve

Once you’ve paid the inordinately expensive entrance fee to drive into Cape Point Nature Reserve, it’s time to drive around the area – almost aimlessly. Make sure to stop off at the viewpoints that pique your interest, but regardless of where you choose, you’ll get an incredible view of something (whether water or mountains) – and you’ll very likely see animals roaming around.

Travel tip: Contrary to popular belief, Cape Point is not where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

If you want to go where the two oceans meet, you’re looking for Cape Agulhas which is about a three-hour drive from Cape Town.

Cape Point Nature Reserve is also known for its stunning, untouched beaches. It gets quite windy at the Reserve, so hopefully you heeded our advice to do the Cape Peninsula loop on windstill day.

The Venus Pools in Cape Point Nature Reserve is the other reason you kept your snorkel gear. It’s a beautiful spot to put your head in and see the marine life in their perfect, uninterrupted natural habitat.

Local tip: The Point itself is arguable the lowlight of the trip given the number of tourists that flock there.

5 pm: Relax at Scarborough

Scarborough is an adorable seaside village with a huge beach and friendly folk. It’s one of the best beaches in Cape Town and is a particularly nice sight in the late afternoon when locals take their dogs for a walk on the beach and they are all frolicking. Scarborough felt like a lost village. It feels like you’ve stumbled on somewhere that everyone is trying to keep secret.

It’s about a half-hour drive from the New Cape Point Lighthouse to Scarborough. Depending on the time of year, you might be able to catch sunset while you’re at Scarborough, but if not, you’ll be just as happy to have driven through Chapman’s Peak Drive during sunset. There are a few lovely cafes and restaurants here if you need a quick snack to tide you over.

6:30 pm: Sunset on Chapman’s Peak Drive

From Scarborough, begin your drive back to Cape Town, making sure to take Chapman’s Peak Drive and not the road that goes through Silvermine Nature Reserve. If you time your day correctly, you’ll get the sunset through Chapman’s Peak Drive which is the ultimate sunset drive.

Local tip: While you’re driving on Chapman’s Peak Drive, look out for water spraying into the air.

It’s not uncommon to see pods of whales depending on the season. It really is quite the sight and is the perfect close to a perfect day.

Chapman’s Peak Drive is the quintessential oceanside drive that you see in films, and it really is as stunning as it looks in pictures. Make sure to stop off at some of the viewpoints along the way to really take in the scenery. There really are very few places that steal the heart and mind like Cape Peninsula, so let yourself enjoy the serenity of the area.

If you like beer, you will notice Aegir Project Brewery on your way to Chapman’s Peak Drive. It’s not just a roadside brewery. It’s actually quite well-respected in the area for both its beer and food offering.

If you find yourself unable to control your hunger until you get back to Cape Town, Aegir is a great spot for dinner, but unfortunately it’s not the best views so you might want to keep that hunger at bay for a little bit longer so you can enjoy the ultimate views on the sunset drive.

8 pm: Dinner in Cape Town

So you’ve finished your full 12-hour loop around Cape Peninsula, and it was just as amazing as expected. We intentionally didn’t suggest a big lunch so you could take advantage of the daylight hours, but that means you get to treat yourself to a big dinner at one of Cape Town’s delicious restaurants. We’ve got you covered on the best of Cape Town’s restaurants.

And if you still have energy after your full-day adventure, head to Cafe Caprice in Camps Bay for a great night out.

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