The Hout Bay valley lies south of Cape Town and is a ten-minute drive from Camps Bay along Victoria Avenue – perhaps one of the most dramatic and beautiful coastal drives in the world. Upon descending into the valley, one is immediately struck by the contrast between large country residences and the township of Imizamo Yethu with the packed informal dwellings and corrugated iron roofs stretching up the slopes of the Chapmans peak range.
The delineation of living conditions can appear stark and reminds one of the aching inequality in SA, however, as penance for living in this dramatic scenery, residents of Hout Bay do their very best to live together and this shaky symbiosis makes Hout Bay a unique place.
Driving towards the beach, one turns the corner and the fishing and industrial harbour is revealed – the biggest fishing port for local fleets. The Harbour has a thriving market and spaces for art projects and is a popular destination for visitors. Hangklip, the residential area for the coloured community made up of the fisherman, snakes up the side of a dramatic mountain called the Karbonkelberg.
Visitors often remark on the uneasy alliance within the melting pot of Cape life. Some people living in Hout Bay thrive off this diversity which makes it a unique proposition and, perhaps a more honest reflection of South Africa, than the glamourous areas of Fresnaye, Constantia, or Camps Bay. However, as one quickly learns in South Africa, there are also people who find the interface of cultures and communities threatening.
Visitors are welcome but in a similar fashion to Rio de Janeiro, the unwary on the beaches can be a target of petty crime.
At the right time of year, guests may be privileged enough to see Southern Right whales, orcas, seals, and dolphins in the natural beauty of the bay.
What to do in Hout Bay
A main and rather popular feature of Hout Bay are the Cape fur seals, which frolic in their hundreds in the cold, Atlantic waters. Some swim amongst the boats in the harbour, but most can be seen at Duiker Island. Seals are not all Hout Bay has to offer, however.
Where to stay in Hout Bay
Where to eat in Hout Bay