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Cape Town - Leisure time
   


Leisure time

Beaches

When the weather is good in Cape Town there are a number of white sandy beaches to visit. The most famous beaches around Cape Town are Bloubergstrand (where you have the awesome view of the Table Mountain), Big Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, Milnerton Strand, Muizenberg, Noordhoek and Strand. The waters at the beaches around False Bay are generally between 15°C – 22°C, around 4°C – 6°C warmer than those along the ‘chilly’ western coastline.

If you prefer more secluded or private beaches that are not so busy, you can go to Kommetjie Beach, St James, Fish Hoek, Boulders, Lundudno Beach, Bikini Beach, or Melkbos beach. Some of these beaches have Blue flag status (e.g. Camps Bay) which means they have international awards for their safety, cleanliness, environmental education, etc. To find these beaches on a map check out http://www.safarinow.com/destinations/cape-town/map.aspx.
For more maps go to the Collection of Links on this page.

Do take note that the secluded beaches are not always safe beaches. If there are warning signs notifying you of potential dangers, please take them seriously. Strong sea currents, dangerous animals and even criminals are very real in Cape Town and care should be taken where warnings are posted.

If you want to see some penguins you must visit Boulders Beach (http://www.aboutcapetown.com/penguins.htm) near Simonstown. It is a small sanctuary on the beach that has been reserved for penguins to live in peace in an urban area. You can walk along wooden pathways towards the beach and check out the cute African Penguins in their natural habitat.

Surfers, listen up! If you love this sport or want to try it out then Muizenberg is the place for you. The water there is a mix between the warmer Indian ocean and a bit of the Atlantic. It also has nice surf and is famous amongst most surfers. Wetsuits and boards can be rented at surfshops along the beach front at really good prices. Also ask the locals for good surfing spots like Kogelbay, Outer Kom and Long Beach if you are a more advanced surfer.

Please note that the beaches along False Bay (where Muizenberg beach is) is notorious for shark attacks. However, there is a shark spotting programme to warn bathers and surfers of any possible dangers. Take note of these beaches and their safety warnings. For surfing spots and lessons check out: http://www.wavescape.co.za

Table View beach front and Bloubergstrand is more famous for its kite surfing. Rumor has it after Australia these are the most kitesurfed spots in the world. Kites and boards can also be rented along beachfront shops and these retailers also provide lessons.

Hiking

Table Mountain is one of the most famous hiking spots in Cape Town. It is part of the Table Mountain National Park which extends all the way to Cape Point. You can hike up and down the mountain, but there are also many other hiking paths all over the mountain through to Cape Point.

Depending on your fitness and route you choose, a hike can take anything between two hours and 6 days to complete. This can be very exciting, but is only advised when the weather in Cape Town is good and you’re relatively fit.

When planning a hike up or around Table Mountain first check out the link (http://www.sanparks.co.za/parks/table_mountain/) for updated safety tips. Always take extra warm clothes (even if the weather is good) and take the local emergency telephone numbers with. For guided hiking trails around Table Mountain and Cape Point visit the link for Hoerikwaggo Trails or with Venture Forth International. For a comprehensive list of hiking trails on Table Mountain check out http://www.noxrentals.co.za/content/hikingcapetown.asp for some options.

And if you are not the fittest or don’t have a lot of time, don’t worry, you can always take the Cable Way (see section: Sights to visit & trips – Day Trips).

Lions Head and Signal Hill are the two smaller hills which forms part of the front view of Table Mountain. They are popular amongst locals due to their relative ease to hike and spectacular sunsets you can experience from the top. When it is full moon and the weather is good, many go there for full moon parties. There is a parking lot close to the top so you can drive pretty far up if you’re not in the mood to hike too far.

The Steenbras River bridge just past Gordon’s Bay is the starting point for a hike up the river gorge. It has a parking area with guards where you can leave your car and then start an easy 40 minute walk to Crystal Pools. This route will take you to a series of beautiful rock pools, a great spot for a picnic and a swim. Beware of the baboons however as they have become experts at stealing any food that is lying around and may become quite aggressive. To enter the gorge you’ll need to obtain a permit from the Department of Parks and Forests at the City of Cape Town Council.

Around Stellenbosch there are also hiking trails available in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. These are longer and will be for the more seasoned hikers.Click here for a wider list of hiking trails outside Cape Town.

Adventure

If you like fun rides you can check out Ratanga Junction next to Century city (just off the N1 highway). It is a theme park with carnival like rides set in a Jurassic Park type environment. You pay an entrance fee per person and then all rides inside are included. The Cobra is a very exciting ride. It is however not open all year round so check out their website for opening times before planning a trip there.

Shark cage diving near Kleinbaai http://www.whitesharkprojects.co.za/ or near Gansbaai http://www.sharkcagediving.co.za is for the more adventurous student. Or check out http://www.unrealdive.com/diving/default.asp for general information and other shark diving spots. It can be quite expensive, but not many are brave enough to do this. But you will have some nice unique stories to tell your friends afterwards.

If you enjoy an adrenaline rush, check out what Frixion Adventures has to offer. They specialise in offering adrenaline-based sports ranging from river to mountain adventures and includes mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking and other action outdoor activities. Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, as long as you’re not faint hearted, they will have something on offer to thrill you.

Shopping

For gift buying there are many shopping areas in Cape Town. In the town centre the most famous shopping street is St Georges Mall. It’s a open air walkway which links various shops. Here you can buy almost anything but it specifically focusses on clothing, shoes, arts and crafts, eating, banking and much more. In Long Street a lot of funky stores recently opened. The rest of the town centre also has a lot of smaller shops and boutiques but you will have to look for them on foot as they are scattered and hidden throughout the town centre.

Then of course you will find the big shopping centres where you can buy anything from groceries, shoes, clothing, furniture, electronic equipment and much more. The biggest and better shopping centres around Cape Town are: Canal Walk just off the N1 highway, Tygervally Centre in Durban Road near Durbanville, V&A Waterfront, Cavendish Square in Claremont, and Somerset Mall in Somerset West. These centres are so big that you could spend the whole day there.

If you are looking for open air craft markets you can check out the Green Market square in the town centre which is open 6 days per week. Other craft markets are Greenpoint Market in Greenpoint next to the Greenpoint Stadium, Houtbay Craft market outside the Hout Bay Manor Hotel and Kommetjie Craft market at Imhoff Farm. These are only open on Sundays and public holidays. Here you will find African hand crafts ranging from animal sculptures from wood or wire, masks, bracelets and hand painted fabrics.

These are not the only craft markets in Cape Town – when driving around the city you will find a lot of smaller craft vendors based at the side of a road. These vendors are scattered throughout the city and sometimes are even found at big road intersections.

Paarden Eiland on Otto du Plessis drive has a flea market on weekends and public holidays, but they sell more second-hand stuff and not craft. But there you can find a lot of useful things at a very good price.

And remember, you should always try and bargain for a better price for craft items. Crafters and vendors are often willing to negotiate on their price to make a sale.

 

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