Boulders Beach

Enjoy a day lazing at Boulders Beach and see the world famous penguin colony. Take a dip in the warmer waters of the Indian Ocean and find yourself swimming with the Penguins. Just remember this area is a sanctuary for them and they and their environment should be treated with respect.

Boulders Beach is home to the African penguin, which has been hanging out along the South African coast for years, in more recent times living shoulder to knee-cap with the local human population of Simon’s Town. Named “jackass” after their distinctive Eeyore impersonations, they occur in only 27 other sites, including Robben Island, and despite their large numbers at Boulder’s (some 3000), they are very much endangered …

Fishermans Beach

You will find the sandy shores of Fishermans Beach between the Simon’s Town Golf Course and the very well known Boulder’s Beach, which is home to many penguins and is extrememly popular with locals and tourists. If you’d prefer something a little quieter than Boulders, head down to Fishermans Beach.

Fishermans beach is enclosed by green lawns which are great if you’d like to play some games with friends, or if you prefer the sound of the ocean but the feel of grass instead of sand you can enjoy the best of both worlds here.

The water is slightly warmer than its opposing Atlantic Ocean beaches and this allows for a wide variety of water sports. Paddle out into the shallow waters and glide back in on a body board or explore the further reaches of the ocean on a kayak.

Glencairn Beach

If you’re heading out to Simons Town on the train why not stop off at Glencairn and spend a few hours at the beach? This fantastic little spot is popular with locals who enjoy taking their dogs for walks or basking in the sun for the afternoon.

If you prefer driving to the beach you’ll be happy to know that there is plenty of parking close by, however you will need to walk across the railway line, so take extra care when crossing.

Glencairn beach is also a great spot for whale watching in season and the resident shark spotters keep visitors up to date with the activity in the water. Enjoy a long stroll on the beach or simply enjoy the serenity the beach offers. Children will enjoy their time here to when they investigate the living creatures in the shallow tidal pool.

Seaforth Beach

Seaforth is the ‘freebie’ version of Boulders beach – more than a few of the penguins venture across here from Boulders Beach, particularly early morning and evening. It lies closer to Fish Hoek than Boulders, and has only Waters Edge beach between it and the former.

Seaforth is a beautiful beach, set in amongst a series of boulders and with a serious parking area, where a few traders sell their wares, and there is a restaurant. But it’s a fairly popular beach too, particularly during summer, because it’s a great swimming beach for children, so families head down here to camp out for much of the day.

The grassy slopes that overlook the beach are, understandably, the first spots to go because they’re so great for picnicking; some of them under trees. Get there early.

Smitswinkel Bay Beach

The Smitswinkel Bay Beach can be found, although not that easily as it isn’t very easy to access, just past Simons Town and next to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. You will only get to the beach on foot, so this is not suitable if you’re not fit as the walk is at least 15 minutes long.

The effort however, is well worth it! Because it is secluded this means it is quieter than many of the other Cape Town beaches and you’ll enjoy a peaceful day at the beach, should you choose. Take in the magnificent views of both the bay and the mountain. If you prefer to be a little more active on your beach day get involved in some of the activity as this bay is popular for diving, fishing and snorkeling. But remember since you’re walking to the beach you’ll need to carry all of your own gear!

The water is relatively gentle here so perfect for a mid afternoon dip to cool down. But please be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty here, so you will need to be extra careful when in the water.

Waters Edge Beach

This off the beaten track beach is one of the local secrets. Head off in a southerly direction from Southforth beach, Simonstown (i.e. veer right when the grassy verge behind the restaurant is in front of you), and you’ll find the path and sign for Water’s Edge beach.

It involves entering via what looks like a garden gate, which makes it appear to be a private beach, which it isn’t. The other way to reach it is along the sand and boulders via Seaforth. The beach may be regarded as part and parcel of Boulders beach but actually it lies between Seaforth Beach and Boulders, and most people know nothing about it.

The bay here is a wonderful haven for children, particularly the rock pools filled with star fish. It makes for wonderful swimming and snorkeling, and diving off the boulders adds a thrill’. But shhh, don’t tell anyone about it!







One of the most underrated gems on the False Bay coast is Simon’s Town. This fishing village lies at the very end of the peninsula, close to Cape Point. It’s the last stop on the Cape Town southern railway line. It’s home to the SA Navy, a small but bustling harbour, plenty of unusual shops, a long Main Road and many other interesting attractions.


Simon’s Town Attractions You Won’t Want to Miss

Simon’s Town attractions offer something for everyone. From off-beat museums to fascinating historical landmarks, beaches and more, the following are just some of the reasons that we love this sleepy coastal destination.

Boulders Beach

1 Kleintuin Road, Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 2329

Boulders is a penguin colony that is situated just outside of town. As a nature reserve, it is a protected area that charges a small entry fee. After entering, you walk along a wooden boardwalk to get to the different parts of the beach. Some areas are closed to the public (these are for breeding and nesting African penguins, who need their privacy) but most areas allow you to swim near the birds. The beach is unspoilt and truly lovely. As an added bonus, the water is on the Indian Ocean side so it is usually warm, too! Take as many photos as you like, but do not try to touch the birds or get too close to them. It’s for you own good as well as theirs… penguins have a rather nasty bite!

South African Naval Museum

St Georges Street, Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 787 4686

Simon’s Town is the seat of the South African Navy. The SA Naval Museum gives a comprehensive history of the navy and its various accomplishments, battles and challenges. You will learn a lot about today’s navy as well. The building is beautiful and the exhibits are fascinating. If you have an interest in ships and submarines, this museum is sure to be especially fun to explore. Kids will enjoy the outing, as will adults. Afterwards, take a walk outside near the pier to see if you can watch navy soldiers going about their drills.


Warrior Toy Museum

St Georges Street, Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 1395

For just a few Rand, you can enter the magical world of Warrior Toy Museum. Privately owned and run, this toy shop and museum is always full of wonders to behold. Dolls, cars, a train set that goes through much of the shop, novelty items from various eras through history… you will find all of that and more. While kids will obviously love this place, adults can’t help but smile at the collection of weird and wonderful treasures. Be warned, though… a few of the dolls are somewhat on the creepy side.

Scratch Patch & Mineral World

Dido Valley Road, Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 2020

The original Scratch Patch is not only one of the top attractions in Simon’s Town; it’s also the best scratch patch in the city. At this place, you can purchase a small, medium or large bag. You can then fill it with all the semi-precious stones you can fit into the bag. Prices are fairly good (bags start from R17), the process of scratching through millions of stones to find ones you like is oddly satisfying and if you want to buy beautiful hand-crafted items made from stones, there’s also a shop.

The Harbour

St Georges Street, Simon’s Town

The harbour is an attraction in itself, especially with the bustle of a working harbour. Fishermen, boat cruises, seals, seagulls, restaurants, shops and benches add to its charm. It is ideal for a leisurely stroll, bite to eat or a cup of coffee, or a beer while you look out onto the water. Whatever time of year you visit, the views here are always amazing. Gloomy days are just as lovely as clear days. While you’re there, look out for the statue of the famous navy dog, Just Nuisance!



20 Nov 2017 1

Keeping kids entertained during the holidays is a difficult job. Experienced parents know that when kids are kept inside too long they start to get a little crazy. If the only experience your little ones have with animals is Peppa Pig, then it’s time to broaden their horizons and let them get close and personal with Mother Nature’s majestic, weird, and hilarious critters. Here are our picks for the best animal encounters for kids in Cape Town.

Imhoff Farm

Imhoff Farm in Kommetjie makes for a great day trip with the kids. This quaint farmstead has a number of animal activities to keep your little ones entertained. There are also two restaurants where parents can unwind with a cup of coffee while kids can play on the lawns.

First, there are the camels. These no-nonsense creatures are taking none of your kids’ attitude, but little ones love them for it. Your progeny can take a camel ride while you snap a few pics or browse the nearby craft stall.

Next, check out the Higgeldy Piggeldy Farmyard, where kids can feed rabbits, goats, and ponies. After that, there’s the Imhoff Snake Park, a reptile sanctuary that’s a hit with courageous kids.

Finally, you can take your older kids to visit Imhoff Equestrian Centre and let them take part in a beach ride.


Two Oceans Aquarium

Named for the fact that the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the Cape, The Two Oceans Aquarium is one of Cape Town’s best attractions for kids.

Featuring over 3000 marine animals, the Aquarium offers edutainment at its finest—giving kids the opportunity to learn about the rich biodiversity in our oceans while having an absolute blast.


Butterfly World

Step into another world at Cape Town’s unique butterfly park. This tropical greenhouse and garden is a delight for children–and gives parents a great opportunity to practice their photography skills trying to get the perfect shot.

There are also spiders and scorpions (don’t worry, they’re in glass enclosures), and Jungle Leaf Café offers coffee and a bite to eat after a morning of fun.


Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s most famous beaches. Situated in the old naval town of Simonstown, it’s on the False Bay coast which means the water is warmer than the beaches on the Atlantic side.

But it’s the penguins that are the real stars of Boulders. The African Penguin colony at Boulders attracts thousands of visitors each year and is a real treat for kids.

Kids love these waddling, braying little guys, and you can combine this unique animal encounter experience with some swimming and sand-castle building on the beach.


The Duck Parade at Vergenoegd Wine Estate

Have your kids ever seen over 1000 ducks going for a morning jog? If they haven’t then get them to the Vergenoegd Wine Estate on any day of the week.

The Duck Parade happens at 10h30, 12h30 and 15h30, so go for a breakfast or lunch at the excellent restaurants and let your kids roam the rolling lawns.


Cape Town Ostrich Ranch

Ostriches are weird creatures, and your kids will love their cartoonish antics. Head out to the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch on the N7, and your kids will be able to ride an ostrich, watch the funky male ostrich dance to impress his lady and play in the extensive play area.

The ranch has white ostriches, dwarf ostriches, black-necked ostriches and emus–more than enough to keep your kids entertained for ages.


Giraffe House

Want to take a guess what the main animal attraction at Giraffe House is? It’s Gerry, the hand-reared giraffe, of course. Despite the name, Giraffe House is not just about Gerry. They also have zebra, warthogs, monkeys, crocodiles and snakes.

Giraffe House is focused on educating kids about wildlife conservation and is the perfect spot if your kids are real animal-lovers.


Monkey Town Primate Centre

All kids love monkeys. There’s something about their cheeky, humanlike behaviour that resonates with the kiddie mind.

Monkey Town is the best place in Cape Town to view monkeys and apes. It’s a wildlife centre with over 700 animals, including chimpanzees that have learned basic sign language. It’s well worth the short trip along the N2 and makes a fun day out for both kids and adults.


The Alpaca Loom

The Alpaca Loom has got to be one of the most interesting animal encounters you can have in Cape Town. Created as a labour of love by Dietmar Keil and Kerstin Heisterkamp, this alpaca farm has a petting zoo and play area for the kids, and a coffee shop and gift shop for the adults.

You can also watch weavers at work in Alpaca Loom studio, weaving the unique alpaca fleece into scarves, beanies and jerseys.


20 Julie 2017 1

Scientific Facts

Scientific Name: Spheniscus Demersus
spheniscus = Greek, small wedge (their formation when swimming)
demersus = Latin, plunging
Class: Aves
Average Statistics: Weight – 2,1 To 3,7 kilograms (4.63 To 8.16 pounds)
Height – 50 cm (19.7 inches)


Penguins are flightless, aquatic birds, which live in the southern oceans in climates as varied as Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands on the equator. There are seventeen species in all but the African Penguin is the only one to inhabit the African continent and its inshore islands. It used to be known as the Jackass Penguin, on account of the braying sounds which it makes on land, but the name ‘African Penguin’ has now been adopted to distinguish it from the Jackass Penguin found in South America, which is slightly different in appearance and behaviour. Another name that is occasionally used is the Blackfooted Penguin. The closest relatives of the African penguin are, in fact, the Humboldt and Magellanic penguins of South America and the Galapagos penguins of the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. Penguins are ancient birds, probably evolving about 65 million years ago, at the time that dinosaurs became extinct. Since penguins are well adapted to the cold, the South American and African penguins feel the heat on land and have evolved various ways to cope with the sun. African penguins have a black stripe curving across the top of the chest. They are insulated by air trapped between their feathers. This makes the birds extremely vulnerable when they are moulting, which they do annually, and for this period of about three weeks (at Boulders about November) they are land-bound, getting thinner and more bedraggled until the moulting process is completed. Before moulting they eat hugely and put on about 30% more fat. Moulting takes about three weeks, during which their weight almost halves. Although the African penguins are quaintly clumsy on land, and ungraceful emerging from the water, in the sea they are extremely skilful swimmers, reputedly reaching speeds of 24 kilometres (15 miles) per hour. Rather than using their feet to swim, as many aquatic birds do, they use their wings that have been modified to form extremely efficient flippers. Their webbed feet are used mainly when swimming on the surface of the water. Their feathers have become very small and waterproofed, overlapping to provide better insulation. The African and South American penguins have shorter feathers than the Antarctic birds, since they do not face such great cold. Penguins also have heavier bones than most birds to enable them to dive. African penguins live an average of 10 to 11 years but sometimes reach as much as 24 years.

Range & Habitat 

African penguins inhabit twenty-seven sites. Most are on inshore islands, of which the best known is Robben Island. There are only three of them on the mainland sites. The largest existing colony is on St Croix island near Port Elizabeth, with about 50 000 birds. Dassen Island off Yzerfontein, once home to over a million penguins, now has about 30 000, while Dyer Island near Gansbaai has about 20 000. The most remarkable of the mainland colonies is Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town with over 2500 birds.

Diet & Eating Habits 

African penguins feed mainly on small pelagic fish (fish which swim on the upper layers of the open ocean) like pilchards, anchovies, horse mackerel and herrings. Competition with commercial fishing has forced them to adapt their diet. They now also eat squid and small crustaceans as well. Since penguins are capable of diving considerable depths, up to 35 metres, remaining under water for 1½ minutes, they can reach fish that other birds cannot. Sometimes they travel considerable distances to feed, up to 30-70 kilometres, although they have been known to travel over 200 kilometres. Particularly when they are feeding demanding older chicks, penguins will spend much of their days at sea feeding. On average a penguin will eat about 300 g of fish a day, although this will increase to over 1 kg before moulting or when feeding older chicks.


There is little distinction between male and female African penguins, although the male is slightly larger and has a longer bill than the female. Penguins are usually about 4 years old when they begin breeding. African penguins will remain with a single partner for many years, producing one or two eggs a year. They only separate normally if breeding has failed for some reason. They can breed at any time of the year, but the Boulders population tends to breed in March to May. The incubation period lasts forty days, and the fledging period from 60 to 130 days. Young penguins have blue-grey backs and white fronts, without the black and white markings of their parents. Originally the African penguin nested in guano (hardened bird droppings, in the past several metres thick) but when this was mined for fertiliser in the nineteenth century they were forced to adapt to other conditions. Now they nest in crude shallow burrows dug out of the sand or under beach vegetation. The main reason for digging burrows is to protect the eggs and chicks from the heat of the sun. Antarctic penguins do not do this. Penguins prefer to return to the same nesting site every year and will persevere most determinedly to get back to their old nests. At Boulders they have been known to climb over the fence that was erected to prevent them from spreading inland. Incubation of the eggs lasts for about forty days. When the babies hatch, they are already covered in a layer of gray fluffy feathers which provide them with insulation and waterproofing. The parents share the nesting and feeding duties. While one partner stays behind, without food or water, for about two and a half days, the hunting partner will swim as much as ten miles out to sea to find tasty food. The babies are usually fed in the late afternoon. The parents regurgitate partially-digested fish into their mouths. Parents continue to keep close watch on their chicks for about a month and the chicks leave the nest after about two months. This can take much longer, however, if the parents have not been able to supply them with enough food. Going to sea is the most hazardous time of a fledgling’s life – only about half the birds that go out for the first time return home. At this stage remain at sea for many months and only return home for their first moult. Young penguins continue to stay out at sea for long periods, sometimes travelling great distances. Only in their 3rd to 4th years do they come back to their homes to mate for the first time. At Boulders the penguins are relatively safe although cats and dogs have attacked them. One of the greatest problems now is that they like to stand under warm cars and several have been run over.

The Boulders Colony 

In 1983 a pair of African penguins were spotted on Foxy Beach at Boulders and in 1985 they began to lay. Since then the colony has grown rapidly, increasing initially at about 60% a year. By 1997 there were 2350 adult birds. Such a quick growth of the colony was the result of immigration, particularly from Dyer Island, as well as by reproduction. Birds have probably come to False Bay because of the good fishing available since commercial purse seine fishing has been banned in the Bay. Although Simon’s Town is very proud of its penguins, nearby residents suffered badly as the birds invaded their gardens, destroyed the undergrowth and were generally very noisy and messy. The great increase in tourists has also been a problem. As a result, the area has now been taken over by Cape Peninsula National Park, the birds have been restrained from wandering inland by a fence, board walks and an information room have all been established. Boulders still remains the only place in the world where one can actually swim amongst the penguins as they have continued to invade more beaches. They are remarkably untroubled by people but one should avoid harassing them by getting too close or chasing them. Beware!! They have a vicious bite.

The Calendar Of “Penguin Activities” For Boulders

January : Juveniles moulting and adults feeding up for breeding season.
February To August : Breeding season.
September To October : Penguins at sea, feeding up for moulting.
November To December : Moulting season.


Because they live so far north, and in a relatively accessible region, African penguins have been particularly vulnerable to human depredation. From the time of time of the first Dutch settlement at the Cape in 1652 penguins were an invaluable addition to the settlers’ food supply. Penguin eggs have also been regarded as a delicacy and were sold and eaten well into the twentieth century. In more recent times the decline in food supply has forced penguins to adapt their eating habits. Seals, which used to share the same small fish, now increasingly prey on the penguins instead. Oil spills from tankers are also a hazard since the oil clinging to their feathers affects their insulation. As a result of all this, there has been a serious reduction in their numbers, and African penguins are now regarded as an endangered species. There were several million African penguins in the nineteenth century. In 1930 there were still over a million birds but there are now only about 179 000 left. All the penguin breeding sites are now protected. At Betty’s Bay, another mainland site, a fence has been erected to prevent disturbance from people and predators. This colony has now grown to about 100 pairs. Nevertheless, threats to their safety remain.

Organisations Concerned With The Preservation Of The African Penguin


(the Southern African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) was formed about twenty years ago to rescue penguins from oil spills and other disasters. It operates a rescue and rehabilitation centre for injured seabirds near Tableview in Cape Town. SANCCOB is funded solely by membership fees and public donations, and has been scientifically proven to be the most successful sea bird rehabilitation centre in the world. In 1994, when the tanker, the Apollo Sea, was wrecked off the Cape Town coast, about 10 000 birds were oiled. About half of these were saved. Much was learnt from this and other disasters. When another major oil slick threatened the penguins after the bulk ore carrier, Treasure sank off Robben Island in June 2000, an even larger rescue operation was conducted. Over 18 000 oiled penguins were rescued and cleaned. More than 19 000 unoiled penguins were trucked to Port Elizabeth, where they were released. It was hoped that the oil would have dispersed by the time they returned home. They proved to be efficient navigators. Three of the rescued birds, named Percy, Pamela and Peter, had transmitters attached to their backs. All made it home safely, finding their way speedily and with remarkable accuracy.



This historical gem on the False Bay coastline packs a lot in for such a quaint little village. Simon’s Town is a quiet harbour with a naval base, a rich history, charming shops, restaurants for every taste and more activities than you can do in a day. The best thing; you don’t even need a car to get there.

If you are looking for a day of sun and sea, Simon’s Town is the place to be. North facing and located on the shores of False Bay, it has warmer water and more sunlight than most places in the Cape. This sheltered little harbour can be anything from a lunch stop on your way back from Cape Point to a full day outing. In fact, this village is so charming you might just end up moving here.

1. Take the Train

If you are staying in town, take an early train into Simon’s Town. After the yellow and silver coaches have rattled past the eastern slopes of Table Mountain you will pass the reeds of Zandvlei and soon smell the sea. Once you have passed Surfer’s Corner (on a sunny day you will find hundreds of these carefree souls splashing in the waves), it is ocean views all the way to your final destination.

The Cape Town – Simon’s Town line is one of the safest ways to travel in the Mother City. Buy a Metro Plus ticket, and this will take you to Simon’s Town in about an hour for R13. Try getting anywhere in London for that price.

2. Whale Watching

While you’re on the train, keep an eye out for the marine life. While seals can be seen all year round, spring in Cape Town is whale season. Colossal Southern right whales can be seen frolicking all along the shores of False Bay. Take a pair of binoculars and watch the playful mammals from dry land or book a whale watching tour to get closer to the action. Enquire at any tourism office to make a booking in advance.

3. Boulders Beach Penguins

The cute little jackass penguins in their tailcoat costumes are a firm favourite with Cape Town’s visitors. Get here in the morning while the loud and smelly buggers are still in action. While the aquatic birds look rather wobbly on dry land, they transform into black bullets as soon as they break the surface. If you want to cuddle, stick to the soft toys from the souvenir shop. The real birds do bite.

4. Cruise Seal Island

The 75 000 furry inhabitants of the aptly named Seal Island are an attraction in themselves. What is more, the playful mammals attract the apex predator of these waters; the great white shark. In winter, especially, you will have great chances of witnessing the natural hunting behaviour of these boat-sized fish. The gruesome images of great whites munching seals in mid-air are all taken here in False Bay. In spring, boat trips to Seal Island will make for some incredible whale watching. Enquire with any tourism office to make a booking.

5. Visit Just Nuisance

The story of able seaman Just Nuisance is a curious one. Just Nuisance was the only dog, a Great Dane to be more specific, to be enlisted in the Royal Navy. Even though he was buried with full military honours, the canine never sailed to sea. The large dog earned much affection by acting as a morale booster during World War II and by escorting drunken sailors home from the pub. The community of Simon’s Town honoured this unusual specimen by erecting a statue on Jubilee Square. Read more about Just Nuisance.

6. Find Your Favourite Restaurant

Simon’s Town has so many little wonders to discover that sometimes your best plan will be to have no plan at all. Ease into the slower pace of the laid back seaside village and take a stroll through the side streets. You will find many little shops full of personality, unpretentious museums and many things that are not in the tourist guides but can make for a memorable holiday.

Of course it would be a shame not to sample some of the culinary diversity this tranquil little port has to offer. Some recommendations to get you started are Bertha’s Restaurant, Salty Sea Dog, Seaforth Restaurant and the Tibetan Teahouse in the Sophea Gallery.

7. Beaches

Just past the penguin colony is Boulders Beach, one of the warmest and safest beaches on the whole peninsula. For a nominal entrance fee you can swim in the warm(ish) False Bay water with penguins darting past you. Boulders Beach is sheltered from the wind and catches no swell at all, so it is safe even for the toddlers. Other popular beaches are Seaforth Beach with a natural swimming bay and picnicking lawn, and Glencairn Beach between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town.

8. Sea Kayaking

Those with an appetite for exercise and salt water can explore the waters of False

Bay in a sea kayak. Professional guides and ridiculously stable boats make this a fun experience; even for landlubbers. Get up close with penguins, seal and even whales when the season is right (August to November is best).

9. Submarine Museum

Submarines are an extreme environment. Requirements of minimal space and maximal functionality left little space for luxury. Take a tour of the retired SAS Aaaegai and get a feel for life under seas. Apparently the guide in the engine room has a strong Scottish accent for the real Red October vibe.

10. Take Your Kids to the Scratch Patch

The Scratch Patch and Mineral World is a hit with the kids. Let the little ones dive into a large area filled with tumble polished gemstones. Equipped with containers that vary in price and size, children can sift through a sea of Tiger’s Eye, Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Jasper, Agates and Crystals and take home whatever they can fit in their bag. A great option if the weather is too miserable for the beach!