Glencairn is one of the best kept secrets in the southern peninsula. It’s tucked away between Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town and if you’re not looking for it it’s easy to drive right past. According to the people who decide these things, Glencairn is a suburb of Simon’s Town, but don’t tell that to the locals who value their independence. It is divided into three areas, Glencairn Heights up the side of one mountain (the back of Elsie’s Peak), Glencairn on the mountain opposite Elsie’s Peak and Welcome Glen which is a little bit further along Glen Road after Glencairn proper.
Wetland Conservation Area
In-between the two mountains is a valley that has been proclaimed a nature reserve and wetland conservation area. It contains hiking trails, a river, waterfalls, over 2200 indigenous plant species, the endangered western leopard toad, a variety of birds and dogs out walking their people.
There are also sports field, including a soccer pitch and tennis court.
The Southern Right is a Glencairn institution. It provides great family entertainment, a view of the wetlands and across the bay and great food. You can sit inside or outside depending on your mood (and the wind).
Glencairn Beach is not nearly as spectacular as Fish Hoek Beach, but it’s sheltered, cosy and animal-friendly. It’s also perfect for whale watching and if you’re lucky you might also see a dolphin or two. The relatively calm water is perfect for snokelling and on windy days you can get join the enthusiastic kite surfers.
Glencairn or Cement Barge, as it’s also known, is an offshore wreck that attracts divers from all over Cape Town. Note, however, that it is in a marine protected area so you will need a permit before you don your scuba gear. It’s at its best in winter but you need to be careful of offshore winds. It’s only about 14m deep and is perfect for beginner divers.
Dixies is a restaurant a little way beyond Glencairn on the way to Simon’s Town. It’s located on the side of the mountain and faces the sea. In whale season it’s almost impossible to get a seat as the crowds gather on the deck with cold beers and sundowners and enjoy the spectacle of playing and breaching whales. It may be a pub-cum-restaurant but it has the best strawberry milkshakes in the world.
Glencairn is accessible from Main Road (if you’re coming from Fish Hoek), the Glencairn Expressway (if you’re coming from Kommetjie) and Red Hill (if you’re coming from Scarborough).