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.

Simon's TownIf 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.

Simons Town Penguins3. 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!

Experience the feeling of being in a boat underwater! Submarine Tour Simon's Town

The SAS Assegaai museum submarine in Simons Town aims to gives visitors the opportunity to experience life in a submarine with its’ perfectly preserved interiors and expertly guided tours.

Decommissioned in 2003, the French-built submarine SAS Assegaai has been lovingly restored by a group of retired and in-service naval staff who, with the blessing of the South African Naval Museum, have opened her up to the general public.

The guides explain  how the submarine dives and how it surfaces at sea and you get to know many interesting facts about submarines. One of the more fascinating aspects being the generation of fresh air for the crew when dived. The knowledge of the ex-submariners on board the submarine is extensive and their passion for this grande dame is quite contagious!

Historical Background:
SAS Assegaai, formerly the SAS Johanna van der Merwe, was one of three Daphne-class submarines acquired from France during 1970 to 1972, which became the first submarines to serve in the South African Navy. She is 58m long and had a complement of six officers and 45 senior and junior ratings. Fitted with 12 x 550mm torpedo tubes, she could also carry sea mines.

The submarine was renamed SAS Assegaai (Assegaai is the Afrikaans word for ‘spear’) in 1999 and was the last of the SA Navy’s Daphne class submarines in commission and finally decommissioned in 2003. Currently she is preserved as a floating museum but will be preserved ashore at the Naval Museum by 2013.

Submarine Tour Simons TownTour Groups:
Tour groups of up to ten persons (twelve in the case of four minors included in the group) are taken through the interior of the boat by our experienced volunteer guides.  The guides provide a commentary on each compartment, all equipment, life aboard and how the boat operates.
A maximum of 3 tour groups are  normally aboard at any time although provision can be made for schools or other organized groups in the case of advance bookings.

Tickets and visitor access:
Tickets can be purchased from the HGTS office at Simon’s Town station or from the STADCO office on Jubilee Square.

Cost:
R40 adults | R20 children < 12 years

Departure Point:
The bus departs from Simon’s Town station and travels via Jubilee Square to the submarine.  The Bus trip and submarine tour lasts about 1 hour.

Operating times on the hour:
Daily summer (Dec- June): 10h30 – 15h00
Daily winter (July – Nov) : Weekdays: 11h30 – 14h30 Weekends: 10h30 -15h00
Closed on Christmas Day and Good Friday.

Please Note:

  • No photographs are allowed in the Naval dockyard until one boards the submarine.
  • This vessel was designed and built as a deadly warship. She is compact and filled with machinery. She was not designed for visitors. Passages are narrow and you need to be careful where you step. Ensure that children do not fiddle with switches or equipment because some valves control water ballast systems, and high voltages are present in equipment.
  • Due to IMO regulations there are NO TOILET FACILITIES on board.
  • In addition to having some degree of sea legs, it is imperative that visitors are reasonably fit and don’t have a fear of small, enclosed spaces

Simon's TownFor visitors staying in Cape Town on holiday and looking for a day trip, Simons Town, along the False Bay coast, makes for an excellent outing for children or adults. Visitors staying in holiday homes in Cape Town can either drive the 40km or take the Southern Line train ride, a scenic ride as much of the line wraps around the coast and visitors will have spectacular sea views for most of the trip.

Simons Town was named after Simon Van Der Stel, who arrived in the Cape in 1679 and was the Governor of the Dutch settlement. The Original residency for the Governor of the Dutch East India Company has been converted into the Simons Town Museum. Here visitors can learn, amongst other things, about the Able Seaman Just Nuisance, a Great Dane who was adopted by the Royal Navy in World War 2.

Just next to the Simons town museum is the South African Naval Museum, which examines the naval history of Simon’s Town and includes a display of the inside of a submarine and a ship’s bridge that has a simulated rocking motion.

Many of Simons Town’s Cape villas consist of well preserved Victorian buildings that line the streets of this historical village. Off the main street, guests will find Jubilee Square, where many café’s and interesting shops are found. This is where the statue of Just Nuisance is found. The Jubilee Square overlooks the working harbour, where boats depart from for regular trips to Seal Island and False Bay.

Many of the quaint Cape Town luxury villas can be viewed along the coastline from the square.

Seaforth, one of the best swimming beaches in Simon’s Town is just a quick walk from Jubilee Square and beachside restaurant offers sundowners. Further along is Long Beach, which, while not the best beach for swimming, has a sunken deck just off the shore and is a wonderful spot for divers.

Toy Musuem Simons Town

When: Open Monday-Sunday 10:00-16:00
Where:
St George’s Street, Simon’s Town (Right next to the Town Hall)
Tel:
+2721 786 1395
What to expect:
Great display and selection of Olden day Toys
Fee:
None

Curator Percy Van Zyl has created a port to people’s childhoods. The Warrior Toy Museum in Simon’s Town is home to a variety of toys that triggers the memories of the oldest of men as they walk among the displays of beloved objects of old.

Toy Musuem Simons Town Cape Town

The Warrior Toy Museum has a permanent display of 4000 model cars.

The model cars to be seen vary in style from old classy early 21th century vehicles to Ian Flemming’s famous 1920’s racing car Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang and Mr Bean’s infamous yellow Mini…

Grown men turn into boys as they look upon two fully operating railroads with trains, other model ships, boats, aeroplanes and assorted toys.

Toy Musuem Simonstown South Africa

The model construction system created in England in 1901 named Mecano also has various displays in the museum and stirs the hearts of those who now work in the field and once only dreamed of becoming an engineer or designer. These toys not only excites the older and more mature visitor, but also the children as they see and appreciate beautiful toys that are no longer as much valued in their generation.

Alongside the transportation toys, there are also some lead soldier displays.

Two impressive displays include a battalion of toy soldiers warding off Zulus attacking with spears in ox-formation and also a full Nazi parade with marching Hitler Youth and a small Adolf Hitler saluting his army…

Another interesting display is a circus tent full of acrobatic figures and an Asah miniature piano.

Toy Musuem Simons Town

The girls twirl around some 500 dolls, teddy bears, dollhouses and rooms. Many elegant glassy-eyed porcelain dolls with the most beautiful vintage detail and lace also brings to life the memories that have long gone been stored somewhere inside.

The Warrior Toy Museum is a great outing for the family and a fun break from traditional, more serious museums.

Atmosphere & Food
The Lighthouse Cafe - Simon's Town Restaurant. Mariner Guest House - holiday accommodation in Simon's Town.The New Year arrival of restaurateur Brett Rathbone and his wife Heleen to Simon’s Town, has brought the sleepy naval enclave of Simon’s Town to life. Since The Lighthouse Café opened its doors on the 6th of January 2013, locals and foreigners alike have been thronging to eat at this light and character-filled eatery, where the only thing matching the fabulous food and décor is the warmth of the welcome from its hosts. Brett’s experience cooking in the south of France underpins his menu, with oodles of fresh fare bursting with flavour and style. He cooks everything from scratch, from his own aioli to the pizza bases, and his calamari is talk of the town.
Previously a longstanding owner of the landmark late-night restaurant Questionmark in Gauteng’s trendy Melville, Brett brings savoir-faire and style to his seasideThe Lighthouse Cafe - Simon's Town Restaurant. Mariner Guest House - holiday accommodation in Simon's Town. haven, where a passion for food and people imbues every meal. The Lighthouse Café is a very inviting space; light & airy with a distinct French Provencial and coastal feel to it. The 30 seater restaurant is generally referred to as the “prettiest little Café in the Southern Peninsula”.
Brett and Heleen as owners and hosts have truly created a “home from home” experience for their customers.

Breakfast, lunch & dinner is served at The Lighthouse Café and customers’ reviews would describe the food best: “the best croissant I’ve had outside of Paris” “the best pork belly I’ve had in many years” “this is the best hamburger I’ve eaten in my life” and from 3 Italian customers: “we musThe Lighthouse Cafe - Simon's Town Restaurant. Mariner Guest House - holiday accommodation in Simon's Town.t have the recipe for this pizza base, it is the best pizza we’ve eaten outside of Italy!”

What to expect

You can expect to be greeted at the door with warmth and to be made feel welcome, the service is excellent and the food heartwarming. One must make a special mention of the coffee, the Italian roasted beans were hand selected for this restaurant and their staff are all barista trained which makes that cup of strong caramel coffee one of the popular attractions of The Lighthouse Café.