Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay is one of the few towns along this stretch of coast that surpasses Muizenberg in its laid back, bohemian spirit. It crams an assortment of boutiques, antiques, crafts, art, coffee, cocktails and food into a relatively small place, but far from feeling over-crowded and over-whelmed, this only compounds the relaxed atmosphere, leaving you loose and free.

Strictly speaking, Kalk Bay is actually called Kalk Baai, which is Dutch for Lime Bay. This is because centuries ago it used to supply the rest of Cape Town with lime extracted from sea shell deposits. The town has had a colourful past which has made its present even more colourful. Unlike its posh neighbor, St James, Kalk Bay wasn’t a playground for the rich and famous. It was a working town with a working harbour and a population made up largely of freed slaves. Its humble beginnings and working class ethics have bred an unpretentious, non-judgemental community where people help their neighbours.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its fair share of wealth. As the houses climb the mountain so the property prices increase. Here space is at a premium, but the view stretches forever.

You don’t have to live in Kalk Bay to appreciate all that it has to offer. You can walk up any of the narrow cobbled streets and admire the old architecture, the modern architecture and the ever present, ever breathtaking panorama across False Bay. If you’re feeling particularly energetic you can even hike up the mountain. Boyes Drive has a number of hiking trails; all you have to do is park and walk.

Highlights

The Brass Bell

The Brass Bell restaurant is an institution. It seems like it’s been there forever but it never loses its charm. It’s divided into five sections: the Main, the Cabin, the Waters Edge, the Pavilion and the Bikini Deck. Unsurprisingly, it specialises in (very) fresh seafood. It also hosts a number of events.

Kalk Bay Books

Kalk Bay Books is a slice of bibliophile heaven. It’s on two levels; the first has popular fiction, cookery books, arts and crafts, biographies, autobiographies and the like, while the upper level is a treasure of classic literature and poetry and rare finds. It often has readings by authors and book launches with cheese and wine and bookish fun.

Kalk Bay Harbour

At noon you can wander down to the harbour to meet the fisherman as they come in. You can buy some fresh fish for dinner or have one of the locals cook it for you. The harbour wall is a great spot to indulge in a spot of angling, but be warned that the waves can get pretty big come high tide so wear something waterproof.

Harbour Eateries

Next to the harbour is a beautiful white building that contains Harbour House, an exquisite five-star restaurant with food to die for, impeccable service and the waves crashing at the wall below.

Kalk Bay Theatre

Kalk Bay Theatre stages local productions in an intimate setting. It’s located in the old Dutch Reformed Church and the building is heritage protected. It also boasts a restaurant with fantastic food.

Kalk Bay Caves

There is a 4km hike from Boyes Drive that will lead you up to Kalk Bay’s collection of six caves. They are unusual in that they have been formed in sandstone, which is not generally conducive to cave systems. The caves have quirky names including Ronan’s Well (after the novel St Ronan’s Well by Walter Scott) and Free Drinks Saloon. You can also pop into Boomslang cave which goes right through the mountain; all you need are some old clothes, a torch (and spare batteries) and a willingness to crawl through tight spaces.

Getting there

Kalk Bay is accessible via Main Road from the Simon’s Town and Muizenberg side.