St James is a 1.5km exercise in beauty. It’s a tiny suburb that fits between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay and is often overshadowed by its neighbours. But just because it’s small doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have anything to offer. On the contrary, it’s quite the little gem.
St James used to be called Millionaires’ Mile because of the high concentration of uber-wealthy who bought and built property there. The houses are impressive and while the sleepy suburb was out of vogue for a while it’s making a strong comeback.
Pretty as a picture
There is an iconic image of St James comprising colourful beach huts on bronze sand under a clear, sunny sky. It’s immediately identifiable and is responsible for selling a good deal of property and attracting masses of beach babes and boys looking for some fun in the sun.
Like the rest of the suburb, St James beach is relatively small but it’s well sheltered from the winds that plague that stretch of coast and so is popular with young families. Another attraction for parents with small children is the tidal pool which provides a safe swimming area – all the fun of the sea without the crashing waves and currents.
The houses climb half way up the mountain that goes all the way down to the beach, and provide spectacular views of False Bay. In whale season it’s possible to stand in your lounge or bedroom and watch the gentle giants frolic in the water below.
Several series of steps take you from Main Road up to Boyes Drive where you can admire the view or stop and rest before going on a more challenging hike around the mountain.
Out and about in St James
In keeping with the millionaire setting, St James contains a number of boutiques and coffee shops, as well as some quirky eateries that fit in with the overriding atmosphere of the southern peninsula coast.
Take for example, The Octopus’ Garden a restaurant that styles itself as “Alice in Wonderland meets Under the Sea”. It is, of course, inspired by the famous Beatles song of the same name and successfully combines eclectic décor with good food to provide an original setting for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. It prides itself on its organic herb garden and even has a hammock for guests to try out. It is kid, dog and vegetarian friendly and is famous for its coffee and delectable desserts. You’ll find it on Main Road next to the train station.
Trattoria Antonio, by comparison, is posher. The restaurant is the “brother” to Trattoria Luigi in Hout Bay and provides gastronomes with an authentic Italian eating experience. You’ll get home-made pasta, wood-fired pizza and only the freshest fish. Don’t be surprised if the chef suddenly bursts into song – you might feel compelled to join in.
St James is accessible via the Main Road from Muizenberg. Main Road is currently undergoing extensive construction so it’s only accessible from the Muizenberg side. If you’re coming from Simon’s Town or Fish Hoek you’ll have to go over Boyes Drive and then through Muizenberg. It might be a good idea to park in Kalk Bay and walk back to St James.