Hout Bay had humble beginnings as a fishing village and fishing still plays an important role in the town’s economy. But it has also grown to become a coveted address among Cape Town’s more affluent societies. Its relative isolation has ensured that, despite the development and massive homes that crawl up the mountain, it retains an atmosphere of quaint calm.
The diversity of the Hout Bay community – from the very rich to the very poor – contributes to the town’s eclectic character and saves it from being just another holiday village.
The beach front
Hout Bay’s beach front contains a number of highlights. There is the beach itself, which stretches for almost 1km and is popular among strollers, dogs (and their owners), picnickers and families. The water is a tad chilly but perfectly acceptable for short dips.
The sea is a surfer’s paradise. Hout Bay hosts the annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa competition (between May and August when swells have been known to reach up to 14m). There are also a few reefs for divers to explore.
You can charter a boat at the harbour and go deep-sea fishing. The area is particularly well known for its yellowfin and longfin tuna, as well as the Cape Yellowtail and Cape Snoek. If fishing is not your thing you can charter a boat to Duiker Seal Island (not to be confused with Seal Island in False Bay).
Then there is Mariner’s Wharf, which contains a number of restaurants (all of which specialise in the freshest seafood, of course), as well as a marine-themed curio shop.
Hout Bay Craft Market
The craft market is held every Sunday on the Hout Bay Commons. You can wander through a great many colourful stalls and stock up on African art and clothes and try some delicious traditional food.
Hout Bay Gallery
The gallery showcases local artists and includes paintings, sculptures and photography. It’s a particular favourite with international art collectors.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive joins Hout Bay to Noordhoek and the rest of the southern peninsula. It’s a spectacular 593m high, 9km long route that winds around 114 curves. The views of the coastline are stunning and there are ample opportunities to stop and admire the wonder of nature. There are also plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails for the more adventurous of heart.
World of Birds
World of Birds is the biggest bird park in Africa. It stretches across four hectares and houses over 400 species of birds and other small animals. Visitors stroll beneath covered walkways from where they can see peafowl, swans, cranes, vultures, owls, flamingos and parrots. There is also a Monkey Jungle with squirrel monkeys and if you’re lucky you’ll see a couple of the resident reptiles.
Imizama Yethu Township Tour
Get a taste of township life with a tour of Imizama Yethu. You’ll get to see some of the favourite taverns and restaurants, shops and maybe even pop in at a local school or a few of the local homes.
Hout Bay is pretty well isolated, which is why it’s also known as the Republic of Hout Bay. It’s accessible via three routes: Chapman’s Peak from Noordhoek, Suikerbossie Hill from Llandudno and Constantia Nek from Constantia.