Simon’s Town Spring Festival – something for everyone!

Simon’s Town will host its second annual Spring Festival from the evening of Friday 21 September until Monday 24 September over the Heritage Day weekend. The festivities take place in and around the town and highlights include a Wellness Expo, Open Gardens, Comedy Evening, Navy Gun and Dockyard Tours, a Kiddies Jumping Castle and a Braai Competition. Whether you are two or ninety-two, there is something for everyone in Simon’s Town.

The full programme can be found on The festivities are intended for the whole family and most activities are free or request a small optional donation. A few events with limited capacity, such as the Quarrymen Concert and various talks, require you to book and pay in advance. Margaret Silk, one of the event organisers comments “The festival provides an opportunity for everyone to experience the many attractions in Simon’s Town – history, culture, nature, wildlife, the navy, art and entertainment and more.”

Bring your family and friends by train, bus, car or bike and join in the events or just soak up the relaxed atmosphere of the town. You can watch whales from the beach, play in the sand, visit the penguins, walk in the mountains, eat great food – from sushi to boerewors rolls – and browse in the shops. There are also many museums, lanes and historical buildings to explore as well as the chance to learn more about the South African Navy. The Steam Train arrives from Cape Town on Sunday (booking essential). Rediscover Simon’s Town – there is something for everyone.

The best route to reach Simon’s Town by car will be via Ou Kaapse Weg due to major road works causing delays in Kalk Bay. Festival highlights are included below.

Music, art and culture

 Friday 21 September, 19h30: Quarrymen male voice choir concert at the Methodist Church Hall. Tickets are R50 from the Simon’s Town Pharmacy (021 786 2133).

Saturday 22 September, 14h30: Diamondback blues and rock band perform for free in the Sculpture Garden next to Cole Point parking (turn left after the Toy Museum).

Sunday 23 September, 19h30: Second annual Simons’ Town Comedy Evening featuring up and coming comics from the deep south in the Town Hall. No children. Tickets are R40 from Spill the Beans Coffee Shop (021 786 2054) or at the door.

Sunday also sees Art on Jubilee Square from 10h00 to 14h00 where visual artists are invited to join in and practice their creativity (free), a walking tour of historic Simon’s Town starting from the Train Station at 10h30 (R20) and a guided walk to the Waterfall and Just Nuisance’s grave (free) leaving from the Shell Garage steps at 14h00 (repeated on Monday at 10h00). There is also Art in the Library where the Simon’s Town Art Group will showcase their paintings, sculpture and glassware all day from Saturday to Monday.

On Heritage Day there will be a Wreath Laying Ceremony at 11h00 at the Forced Removals Monument in Jubilee Square to remember those forcibly removed from Simon’s Town under the Group Areas Act of the 1960’s.

 Health and wellness

 Sunday 23 September, 10h00 to 15h00: The Wellness Expo in the Town Hall brings together an array of health practitioners, therapists, holistic and alternative healers that will demonstrate and discuss their health and wellbeing products and services. Come and browse, test, investigate and gather information about all things relating to health, wellness and a balanced lifestyle. Delicious and healthy food and beverages will be on sale. There will be prizes and giveaways. Entry is R20 for adults and children under the age of 12 are free. For more information call Maggie on 072 425 5990.

The Tibetan Tea House (021 786 1544) will host daily esoteric talks at 11h00 and 14h00 (optional donation) including “Be nice to Bees” and “Conserve our Future” by Jenny Cullinan on Saturday at 11am and a Singing Bowl Healing Meditation with Maryna Kruger on Monday at 2pm.

Nature and adventure

 Saturday 22 September, 10h00: Open Gardens visits to the best fynbos gardens in Simon’s Town (R20). Meet at 26 Victory Way. The tour will be lead by Ian Howse who says “Simon’s Town is home to some spectacular fynbos gardens that can only be seen once a year during the festival. Last year this event attracted great interest and is set to do the same again.”

The Paddlers Annual Spring Kayak Race runs from 9h30 on Sunday (free). The long and short course event (with no time limits) is open to everyone. The race launches from Long Beach. There will be lots of fun on the beach for the family, including free demo’s from 11h00. Bring your bucket and spade and build some sand castles with us. Visit for weather forecasts and plans.

The Atlantic Rail Heritage Steam Train arrives in Simon’s Town at 12 noon. The train consists of a steam locomotive from 1949 and a collection of wooden bodied vintage coaches from between 1922 to 1938. Come and welcome the train and its passengers and join us for a free welcome walk from the station.

Monday 24 September, 9h00: NSRI Fund Raiser Golf Competition hosted by the Simon’s Town Country Club, the only 9 hole course in the Cape Peninsula. The course and clubhouse offer spectacular views over False Bay and you can often watch whales as you play. You also need to watch out for the African penguins that live on and around the course! Visitors are welcome and should call 021 786 1233 to book a tee off time. R175 per entrant. The popular Club restaurant offers daily specials.

The False Bay Yacht Club hosts the annual Spring Regatta over the weekend. This prestigious yachting event attracts up to 80 boats representing all keelboat classes. The crisp white sails and colourful spinnakers contrast beautifully against the blue water making the race a lovely sight to watch (free).

 Food and drink

 Heritage day is also known as National Braai Day and the community has put out the challenge to find the best braai master (or mistress) in Simon’s Town. The spring festivities Braai Competition will be held from 14h00 on Monday on the bay in front of Bertha’s Restaurant. Event organiser Nicola Werkman says “The winner will walk away with the title of Simon’s Town Braai Champion 2012 and win a fabulous hamper donated by Sunvalley Mica.” Entries are limited. Call Nikki on 083 977 9182 or email to book your spot (free).

Pastry chef Doreen Alcock will hold baking demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday at 15h00 in The Sweetest Thing Patisserie kitchen. TV star, Doreen was awarded the Diners Club Award in 2008 for The Most Promising Pastry Chef Newcomer in the whole of South Africa. Her delicate fruit tarts, croissants and pastries are well worth the trip out to Simon’s Town! Tickets are R50 and can be booked by calling 021 786 4200.

Children will be entertained at 11am every day at the Kids Pizza Making Competition hosted by Pescado’s Restaurant, which turned 16 on 3 September this year! Entries are R10 and you should book by calling 021 786 2272.

A number of the restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and guest houses are offering specials over the weekend. Enjoy fish and chips, sushi, burgers and more in the many venues in and around town.

South African Navy events

 Simon’s Town has been an important naval base and harbor for more than two centuries. It is the only remaining full Naval Base for the South African Navy. Three special events (free) have been organised for the public during the spring festivities. These are:

Saturday, 23 September, 12 noon: Gun Emplacement Tour of the Scala Battery on Red Hill. This includes a close up view of the 9.2 inch gun (free). There are only twelve of these guns left in South Africa. The others are situated on Robben Island, Llandudno and on the Bluff in Durban. None have ever been fired in anger.

Monday, 24 September, noon: Middle North Battery Cannon Firing. This will be the 13th firing of the 12-ton, 9 inch RML Gun in 109 years. Come and experience what 5kg of gunpowder looks, sounds and smells like when ignited (free).

Daily East Dockyard Tours departing Jubilee Square at 13h00. This facility was opened in 1910 just before WW1 and expanded significantly in 1975. The guided bus tour will show you an area normally closed to the public (free).

In addition to these special events, the Submarine Museum is offering tours of SAS Assegai submarine every hour, every day from 10h30.The one-hour tour departs from the train station or Jubilee Square. Bookings can be made by calling 021 786 5243 to book. Adults R40. Under 12 pay R20. The Navy Museum will also be open during the weekend.

Kids activities

This year the festivities have placed special emphasis on fun activities for children and families. There will be jumping castle and kiddies drawing corner (free) near the Post Office all weekend (including Monday), face paining at Art on the Square on Sunday (free), a magician at JB’s Ice Cream Parlour (free) and a gathering to build sandcastles on Long Beach on Sunday from 10h00 (free). Children will also enjoy a tour of the Submarine Museum.

Bronwen d’Oliveira, mother of two young children and a new resident in Simon’s Town said “we are so pleased to see more families living in this beautiful area and we look forward to making Simon’s Town a great place for kids to visit.”

The Simon’s Town Boat Company harbor cruise special for the weekend entitles one child to go free with every paying adult (R50). The trip aboard the Spirit of Just Nuisance offers you a great view of the naval base and surrounding town. You should see seals and many even encounter a whale! Book by calling 0832577760 or visit

Spend time on one of our many beaches, watch the whales in the Bay, visit the penguins, enjoy the various walks, tours and museums or relax in one of the many easy-going restaurants.

Whether you are two or ninety-two, there is something for everyone in Simon’s Town.


The first Whales have been spotted frolicking around False Bay and the early morning golfers in Simon’s Town say you can hear them off-shore singing and calling. We can also see them beyond the harbour wall from our balconies at Mariner Guesthouse!

We have therefore launched our “Whale and Wine Weekend Special”: For R1995 this includes accommodation and breakfast for 2 adults sharing for 2 nights, as well as a bottle of “bubbly” on arrival, wine tasting at Cape Point Vineyards and a Simon’s Town harbour boat cruise. Book now to take advantage of this great offer!

Joining the whales in False Bay, are the yachts that are getting ready for this year’s Lipton Cup in False Bay. False Bay Yacht Club who are the defending champions, are hosting this event for the first time and the first racing day is on Sunday the 19th August, followed by 6 days of competitive sailing in False Bay.

This historic sailing race has been around for over 100 years and was first presented by Sir Thomas Lipton to the sailors from the Table Bay Yacht Club in 1909. The winners of the Challenge have hosting rights. The event is known as South Africa’s premier sailing competition and attracts top sailors from around the country. There are likely to be between 30 and 35 boats competing, each with a crew of about six sailors. The opening ceremony is open to the public and will be held on Jubilee Square from 16h30 on Saturday, 18 August.

While you’re there, have lunch or dinner at Bertha’s Restaurant on the pier. They currently have great winter specials.

See you there!
Liesel 🙂

“What to do” and “Where to eat” are the two questions we are most often asked by guests staying here at Mariner Guesthouse in Simon’s Town. I have decided to make this my focus for my next few blog posts.

The Cape Peninsula has so much to offer for visitors of all ages, but today, my family and I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful day by eating and playing outdoors. I have 3 girls under the age of 7, so we always choose restaurants that are “Kids Friendly”. Imhoff Farm is ideal for families with their many activities and restaurants. Within half an hour’s drive around Cape Point, lies this historical Cape farmstead dating back to 1743.

Activities to excite the whole family include:

  • Horse Rides on Noordhoek Beach
  • Snake Park for close up encounters with snakes and other reptiles
  • Higgeldy Piggeldy Farmyard where kids can stroke and feed a variety of farm animals
  • Camel Rides
  • Cheese Dairy and goat Milking Parlour
  • Jungle Gyms and Face Painting

Food to suit your mood:

  • Enjoy freshly prepared New Cape style cuisine, authentic pizzas and breathtaking views at Blue Water Cafe.
  • Treat your taste buds to delicious fresh fish and traditional Cape seafood at The Pickled fish
  • Fill your picnic basket with tasty, healthy and organic foods from the Free Range Farm Shop.
  • Select hand made chocolates in the silo
  • Stop at the Free Range Coffee Shop for a light meal in the courtyard
  • Savour free wine tasting at the Old Cape Wine Shop

Make sure to visit Imhoff Farm when next you visit the Cape Peninsula.

I was contacted by a travel magazine in New York this week requesting me to write a piece for them about “wildlife-viewing opportunities” in False Bay during our winter months. This is incidentally similar to my last blog post, but I thought this could still be usefull information for others as well…

From my experience and comments from guests who visit Mariner Guesthouse here in Simon’s Town, our winter months are actually the best time to visit the Cape!

The South Peninsula has moderate temperatures in general, ranging between 10 and 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year. August through to October are especially beautiful months with very little wind and calm seas. This makes it ideal to take a walk along the beach, go out on a Harbour Cruise or a Whale Watching boat trip in False Bay or just sit on our balcony above the harbour from where the whales are clearly visible. It is the most amazing sight to see these large beasts breach through the water surface, seemingly effortlessly. Two years ago, I counted 8 different pairs of Southern Right Whales lying some distances apart and one could even make out the new calves with some of the couples.

Also popular during the winter months in Simon’s Town, is Shark Cage Diving, Shark Predation and Shark Breaching trips. There are Shark Viewing Companies that take trips out to Seal Island for those more adventurous who want to see the sharks up close.

Then of course, Simon’s Town is home to the African / Jackass Penguin. These cute little creatures can be viewed best between Seaforth and Boulders Beaches by following the wooden boardwalk leading through the penguin nesting area. My kids and I often take a stroll to one of these beaches for a late afternoon swim when my husband joins us after work for dinner at Seaforth or Boulders Restaurants. From here we can keep an eye on the kids playing on the beach and literally swimming with the penguins!

For those travellers seeking to experience the splendour of unspoilt beaches and the wonder of viewing whales, sharks and penguins up close, Simon’s Town is the place to be. After 7 years of living here, I often still catch my breath when looking at the amazing views of False Bay and the mountains beyond. Guests from all over the world staying at Mariner Guesthouse often comment that this must be the best place on earth, and I agree!

Liesel 🙂

For most of us in the Deep South, March/April means Easter Holidays and nice weather! Locals make the most of this time to spend time outdoors. Whether you’re an avid cyclist or just a couple taking a leisurely walk along the beach, this is the best time of year to enjoy our beautiful coastline.

Cycling in the peninsula

From our balconies at Mariner Guesthouse, guests watched the thousands of cyclists cycling through Simon’s Town with the world renowned Pick ‘n Pay Argus Cycling Tour. Roads in and around Simon’s Town are closed for the morning to ensure the safety of cyclists, so guests took this opportunity to explore the town on foot. People are often surprised by the lovely selection of high quality gift and interior shops, not to mention the quaint Restaurants and Coffee Shops along the main road.

Get more info from Cape Point Cycling.

For many others, April also means the arrival of Shark Season!!!

Image: Rob Lawrence
Until around September, False Bay a few companies charter trips out to Seal Island to view the breaching Great White and other sharks. Shark cage diving is very popular and many of our guests during the winter months, come to stay for a week or two for this amazing experience. Visit this blog by one of our local shark diving companies (African Shark Eco Chargers) for more information .

That’s it for now then. I’m also off to take advantage of this beautiful day!