Cape Town: the Mother of South Africa. We all know (and love, don’t get me wrong) the white, bosomy sands of Clifton 1st through 4th, the promenade and electric scooters of Seapoint. But many of us have exhausted these haunts (and our wallets) over the years. But never fear: the city has so much more to offer – should you be willing to drive to Muizenberg and then onto the Great Unknown. I’m talking Simonstown, Kommetjie, Scarborough, and – of course – Kalk Bay.
Here, I’ve gathered alternatives to the treasured-but-slightly-tired attractions – whether you’re a tourist or even a born-and-bred Capetonian! Because there is so much on offer, and you just need to know the answer to the question of where to look. And the answer is here. The answer is the Deep South.
Take a coastal drive
Legend has it that along the outer edges of the Southern Peninsula there winds a road so beautiful it’s actually illegal to not stop and take photos. And no, I’m not talking about Chapman’s Peak Drive. I’m talking about Misty Cliffs: a breathtaking section of M65 between Witsands Beach and Scarborough, painted a hundred shades of blue by the sea and sky.
Nobody is denying the majesty of Chapman’s; I would never commit such a heinous transgression. But if you’re looking for the same calibre of views – minus the crowds – why not take a Sunday-afternoon-speed trip to Mistys?
Watch the sunet
At some point, Cape Town decided to declare Signal Hill the Designated Sundowners Spot (™) for the whole city. And somehow, I missed this memo. But, truth be told, I am not even upset, because I am quite happy with my current Sundowners Spot, thank you very much. Let me introduce you to Slangkop Lighthouse – the place that kept me in ignorant bliss.
And bliss is quite honestly the perfect descriptor. I find in crowded places, there is always someone blasting the worst music you’ve ever heard (I’m looking at you Signal Hill goers). At Slangkop, the track of choice is ambient waves against rocks. Your guests will probably consist solely of oystercatchers, anyone you choose to invite and, of course, the lonely lighthouse; it’ll be glad for the company.
Brave the cold for tidal pool swims
Cold water immersions have been one of the biggest trends to come out of 2022. And for good reason! Icy water has many a research-backed health benefit. But why blindly follow science when you can actually test it out for yourself? The Deep South has a veritable smorgasbord of chilly tidal pools on offer in which you can conduct your experiments.
One of the most popular is Dalebrooke, sandwiched between the Kalk Bay train tracks and the Indian Ocean. From dawn to dusk, the swimming-costume-sporting legions splash about as one. And as they all bob together, a sense of community is tangible. You’re welcome whether it’s your 1st swim or your 999th. The best part is a post-swim coffee can be ready and waiting for you, courtesy of Dalebrooke Cafe, if you order it beforehand with one of the friendly servers that they have stationed there. It’ll warm you right up and you can pop off to work, simple as that!
Enjoy sweet treats at a charming cafe
If you’re ever Cape Point side and need something sweet, man, do I have the place for you! A few turn-offs after the ostrich farm, there you have it: the Scone Shack – home of the best wood-fired scones you’ll ever have.
Never did a little tea shop have more personality. The menu? A choice between approximately 5 dessert-type items (they play to their strengths). The crockery? So mismatched it ends up going together perfectly. Scone-hungry ducks? Present. In a word: quirky, but in the most endearing way possible.
Visit a local goods market
Something I do love about the CBD is the proximity to all the wonderful markets on offer in the Mother City. Whether you’re on the hunt for organic vegetables or second-hand clothes, chances are you can find it at Oranjezicht or Mojo or the Old Biscuit Mill.
But you could also find it at the Blue Bird Garage Food and Goods Market in Muizenberg. Every Thursday and Friday evening, this brightly-coloured building becomes The Place for you to be. Families, couples and groups of friends arrive en masse – called by the sense of community and the smell of Debbie Hermann’s samosas. There is an unmistakable atmosphere of camaraderie and a down to earth-ness that makes you immediately feel as if you’re right where you belong.
Wine and dine
Cape Town is abundant in many things: beaches, cyclists and vegans to name a few. And another thing that it’s certainly not lacking is contestants to win the unofficial title of Best Health Food Cafe. And in the constant “anything you can do, I can do at least as well, if not better” shtick that the Deep South has, we’ve got our very own contestants here too.
My favourite – Blended – lies in the EAT. SURF. YOGA lifestyle centre, just next to Glencairn Beach. Started as a passion project by two locals, the restaurant has gone on to develop quite the cult following. And it is easy to understand why. Their sustainability-focused, plant-based ethos attracts the more environmentally-conscious among us. Their delicious food attracts everyone else. And just like that, they’ve turned the entire planet into a prospective customer.
Relax at the beach
We know Clifton. We love Clifton. 1,2,3 and 4 – they’re all great. But, they’re also constantly busy – especially now going into the festive season. And I don’t know about you, but a busy beach is my least favourite type of beach.
So, in case you should be of the same persuasion, allow me to suggest an alternative: Water’s Edge Beach, Simon’s Town. This used to be the area’s best-kept secret, but with the advent of Influencers, they are constantly “discovering” this beach and telling the whole world about it. That being said, it is still far less busy than the household-name CT sand stretches. And because it is on the Indian Ocean side of the peninsula, the waters also run a tad warmer than the likes of Clifton and Llandudno. So, escape the December Beach Bustle without compromising on views. Top tip: take along your goggles and a snorkel. This stretch of coast is unparalleled when it comes to underwater exploring.
Hunt for treasures at the thrift shop
Observatory is the Cape Town Thrift capital. But, because of this, prices are high and good items get snapped up quickly. In the Deep South, we have our fair share of little, corner charity shops to which little old ladies religiously donate their funky pieces. The best part? You’ll be hard-pressed to find a price tag over R50.
Honourable mentions go to the Fish Hoek branch of St Luke’s Hospice and the Tears Charity shop in Kalk Bay, but the vintage clothing victor of the area has got to be Rummage Co-Op. Located at the quaint Imhoff Farm, Rummage emulates its surroundings: earthy, vibrant, and teeming with bucket-loads of personality.The shop is continuously stocked with beautiful, one-off pieces that’d fit right into the Obs Lower Main Road second-hand stores. In fact, it’ll be a struggle to go there and not find something worth falling in love with. Quality (and charm) guaranteed.
So, there we have it. 8 alternatives to your classic Cape Town pastimes. Whether you’re looking to laze on the beach, hit up the second-hand scene or enjoy a less-busy bite to eat, this list has got your festive season covered. Fall back in love with our Mother City, sans the Christmas busyness.