Cape Point: The Best Things To Do at this Iconic Landmark

Cape Point: The Best Things To Do at this Iconic Landmark

50 shades of blue and green…

Mistakenly cited as the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, Cape Point is, nonetheless, a place like no other. (Incidentally, the two oceans’ meeting point is Cape Agulhas.) In a thunderous clash of water against rock, where mountain and ocean meet, Cape Point juts out like an outstretched arm, attracting an incredible diversity of life (furry, feathered and two-legged) to its pristine beaches and rugged cliffs.

While its wild, unspoilt beaches are the main attraction in summer, Cape Point Nature Reserve (7 750 hectares) is nevertheless a wonderful day-trip destination all year round for hikers, history buffs, photographers, birders and nature lovers alike. The rocky headland is actually made up of three main promontories: Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope and Cape Maclear. Here are our favourite things to do and discover in this perennially beautiful wilderness.

Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Important note Visitors are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as accidents do happen. Check the weather and wind forecasts if you’re going hiking. Have the Cape Point emergency number on hand: 021 780 9010, and also that of Table Mountain National Park 086 110 6417  / 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.

Braai and swim at Buffels Bay

Cape Point: Buffels Bay

Do you speak blue? After spending a day on this crescent-shaped slice of paradise, you’ll be fluent in the entire spectrum! We’re talking turquoise, ultramarine, cobalt, electric, azure and navy – starting off as translucent aquamarine near the shore. This half-moon bay is on the “calmer” eastern side of the point, so the swimming is top-notch; you might even be fortunate to be joined by a surfing seal or two. Alternatively, there is a large tidal pool (great for younger children). A dip may not be an option in winter, but there are rock pools to explore, and a short hike between the rocky shoreline and fynbos-clad cliffs to Antoniesgat. With braai and picnic spots aplenty on a stretch of lawn, powder-soft sand and ocean as far as the eye can see, this rhapsody in blue is well worth the drive.
Good to know If you’re planning to braai here or at nearby Bordjiesdrif Beach, you’ll need to bring your own grid and wood. And don’t feed the baboons!
Where to find it Some 9km from the entrance to Cape Point Nature Reserve, take the Buffels Bay turn-off to the left.

Walk the shipwreck trail

Cape Point: Shipwreck

There have been 26 recorded shipwrecks around this coastline. The most accessible is reachable on a short and easy 3km walk (around one hour and 30 minutes). Also known as the Olifantsbos trail, it leads through fynbos to the beach, where the prominent Thomas T. Tucker ran aground in 1942. This American WWII troops-and-weapons transport vessel is Cape Point’s most photographed shipwreck and its hull is a popular nest for local birdlife. Before heading back or continuing to the Sirkelsvlei Trail, rest near the Nolloth, a liquor carrier wrecked in 1965 (further down the beach).
Good to know The weather can be rough in winter and windy in summer, so be prepared and check the conditions before setting out.
Where to find it Follow the yellow markers from the Olifantsbos parking area. Follow Link Road (the first turn-off to the right after the reserve’s entrance gate).

Spot game at Cape Point

Cape Point: Game

In between the hiking, swimming and sightseeing, you’re likely to come across some of the local inhabitants. These include chacma baboons carrying their babies on their backs, ostriches, Cape mountain zebras, eland, bontebok and other antelope, and the ubiquitous dassies (rock hyrax) – as well as, if you’re lucky, Cape clawless otters, water mongooses, Cape foxes, genets, caracals, porcupines and leopard tortoises. There are also snakes, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re hiking in quieter areas. It’s an excellent birdwatching site, too, with at least 250 species calling this wilderness home. Keep an eye on the horizon, as you might spot a southern right whale or two during winter.
Good to know Do not approach or feed any wildlife – especially the baboons. Keep a safe distance and back away slowly if you encounter one on your path.

See the official Cape of Good Hope

Cape Point: Cape Of Good Hope

It’s worth the 3.5km walk for the bragging rights of having visited the very farthest edge of Cape Town, and the most southwesterly point on the African continent. It also happens to be a spectacularly scenic picnic spot with 360-degree views (and you’ll get to look down on stunning Diaz Beach along the way). A wooden boardwalk leads along the cliffs to the lookout point, with the sign on the rocky shore far below.
Good to know This walk is not to be confused with the two-day Cape of Good Hope Hiking Trail run by SANParks. The Cape of Good Hope is often mistaken for the southern tip of Africa, but that title goes to Cape Agulhas (250km from Cape Town), where the two oceans meet.
Where to find it Follow the signs from the main parking area.
To snap a pic next to the sign, take the road past Maclear Beach (accessed after the turn-off to Platboom) to a parking area on the western shore.

Explore Platboom Beach

Cape Point: Platboom Beach

Platboom (Afrikaans for “flat tree”) is perhaps the wildest yet most accessible (but also deserted) beach in the reserve, on the western flank of the promontory. With coastal views, and abundant flora and fauna (including the occasional ostrich and baboon), the white expanses of sand are largely deserted. If you’re feeling energetic, explore the chalk-white sand dunes and rocky outcrops, or simply take a long, undisturbed stroll along the spellbinding coastline. It’s also a great spot for birdwatching and picnicking (don’t feed the wildlife!).
Good to know Due to its secluded setting, swimming is not recommended, but you can certainly dip your toes in the icy Atlantic.
Where to find it Some 4.9km from the heart of Cape Point Nature Reserve (access runs past Dias Cross, though some folk recommend the hike south from the Gifkommetjie viewpoint).

Visit the lighthouses

Cape Point: Light House

Instead of guiding ships to safety, Cape Point’s first lighthouse, built in 1859, was often the cause of mishaps due to its high perch above the ocean that concealed it among the clouds. In 1911 the new lighthouse was built, and remains one of the most powerful sentinels on the South African coast, with a range of 60 kilometres and a luminous intensity of 10 million candelas. A short step-trail leads to the old lighthouse, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the oceans and surrounding coastline. And in winter you might even catch sightings of whales – use the onsite binoculars to squizz them properly!
Good to know To get to the new lighthouse, take the 2km Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail (find it behind the funicular station) along the cliffside, past historical bunkers and down through fynbos.
Where to find it Follow the trail from the main parking area (or catch the funicular).

Put the fun(icular) into Cape Point

Cape Point: Funicular

The Flying Dutchman Funicular – the only one in Africa – is a schlep-free (and fun for kids) way to see all the sights at Cape Point. The two 40-seater rail carriages travel up from the base station along a 600-metre track through dense fynbos to the old/upper lighthouse every three minutes. Once at the top (roughly 87 metres above the parking area), you’re met with spectacular views of the point and surrounding beaches and ocean.
Good to know The ghost of the Flying Dutchman – a ship that was torn to shreds at the “Cape of Storms” 350 years ago – is said to still sail these seas, desperately seeking aid.
Cost Return: R80 (adults); R45 (children and pensioners)
One way: R65 (adults); R35 (children and pensioners)
Free for children under 6 years
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5.30pm (5pm in winter)
Where to find it Main parking lot at Cape Point

Have a break at Two Oceans Restaurant

Cape Point: Two Oceans Restaurant

Windswept, rosy-cheeked and hungry visitors will find a light and airy space at Cape Point’s long-standing restaurant (it opened its doors in 1995), where large windows paint the picture of a Mediterranean summer. The menu is a crowd-pleasing selection, including seafood platters, pork belly and the like, plus vegetarian options, but it’s the view you’ll relish – a table on the cliff’s edge deck is one of Cape Town’s best spots to drink in the never-ending sea views.
View the menu
Good to know Booking is recommended even outside of peak season. The Food Shop next door offers quick takeaway snacks, light meals, pizza and coffee.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 780 9010, info@capepoint.co.za
Where to find it Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, Cape Point

Marvel at Diaz Beach

Cape Point: Diaz Beach

Diaz Beach is without a doubt one of Cape Town’s most beautiful – it is literally at the tip of Cape Point (on the western side) and encircled by dramatic cliffs and wild waves. You’ll feel exhilarated as you stand and gaze at the crashing surf, towering crags and sheer beauty. Best of all, it remains largely undisturbed thanks to the 20-minute walk down a steep set of wooden stairs to the white sands (it leads off the ‘Cape of Good Hope’ walk). But for the stunning views alone, it’s undoubtedly worth it, as Diaz will render you breathless in the best possible way.
Good to know Swimming is off-limits due to the strong currents – also, keep an eye out for baboons along the path.
Where to find it Follow the gravel footpath from the main car park, which then swings right and becomes a wooden boardwalk.

Get a history lesson

Cape Point: History

Driving or hiking around Cape Point, you might come across two tall white pillars with a cross on top. These monuments were erected in honour of two 15th-century explorers.
While Bartolomeu Dias wasn’t successful in his mission to sail from Europe to India, he was the first European navigator to round the southern tip of Africa – thus proving that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans joined up. In 1488, after docking in Mossel Bay and reaching the Eastern Cape, he turned his ship around and stumbled upon Cape Point, which he promptly named “Cabo das Tormentos” – Cape of Storms.
After Dias’s unsuccessful quest to reach India, Portuguese King João II ordered Vasco da Gama to complete the trip in 1497. Like Dias, Da Gama struggled to round stormy Cape Point and only managed on his third attempt in five days. But he did make it to India.
Long, long before this, the strandlopers – our Early Stone Age ancestors – lived along this coastline. Two sites identified by archaeologists are Bonteberg Shelter (in the north-west corner) and Black Rocks and Bordjiesdrif (on the east coast).
By the early 1800s, the land had been divided up into about a dozen farms – names you see today on the map are remnants of these (such as Buffelsfontein, Olifantsbos and Paulsberg). And the ostriches you see are descendants of the original group reared by one of these farmers, John McKellar.
Good to know The first access road to Cape Point was only built in 1915. The reserve itself was founded in 1938, and incorporated into the newly declared Table Mountain National Park in 2004.

Go wild-food foraging

Cape Point: Foraging

Foraging expert Roushanna Gray hosts half-day trips and full-weekend workshops in the area aimed at learning, exploring and sustainably foraging the unique ingredients that abound in our ocean and fynbos landscape. In winter, the experience focuses on wild foods (indigenous plants, weeds, herbs, flowers and veg), while in summer, the foraging focus is the coastal tidal pools (edible seaweed, invasive mussels and other gems). Once your bounty has been collected, you’ll head into the Veld & Sea Glasshouse at Cape Point, where you’ll help prepare drinks and a lovely three-course lunch using your foraged ingredients, and learn about their medicinal properties and preserving. (Plus, you’ll get follow-up notes and recipes to take home.) Group size is 10 – 25 people.
Good to know In spring, Roushanna offers wildflower workshops. There are also pop-up dinners and travel/adventure weekends in other locations.
Cost R1 200 per person
Time 11am – 3pm (on a day of your choice)
Contact 072 234 4804, veldandsea@gmail.com
Where to find it Good Hope Gardens Nursery, Plateau Road (M65), Cape Point

Pop in at the Scone Shack

Cape Point: Scone Shack

This crooked little shack, made almost entirely out of recycled windows and scraps of wood, is a fairytale-esque dessert spot on a farm on the road to Cape Point. The land is also home to a succulent nursery, a rustic river setup complete with rowboats, and a menagerie of farm animals and their babies (give Bacon the pig a good belly rub). It’s a marvellous stop after exploring the nature reserve, and the scones are hands down among the best in the Cape. They’re made by Karl’s partner, Cara, in a wood-burning oven and served with utterly delicious homemade jam, butter and cream. The cinnamony ice tea is also delicious! Other sweet treats might include Cape brandy pudding, carrot cake, pecan pie, milkshakes and chai latte.
Good to know The Scone Shack only accepts cash. They re-open for summer on 28 September 2023.
Opening times Friday – Sunday, 9.30am – 6pm
Contact 079 045 1318, lalaphanzik@gmail.com
Where to find it Lalaphanzi Farm, Plateau Road (M65), Cape Point

Go e-biking around the reserve

Cape Point: E Biking

This relaxed e-bike outing starts with a southward ride through the nature reserve towards the Cape of Good Hope (the most southwesterly tip of Africa), where you can hop off your bike and view the landmarks and resident wildlife – baboons, ostriches, buck and the Cape mountain zebra. Then it’s on to Cape Point, to see the lighthouse up close and enjoy the scenery (and lunch at the restaurant). Once done at Cape Point, you have the option of visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town. Included in the full-day (8.5 hours) excursion are the services of a professional guide, water, helmet and bike rental.
Good to know Minimum age is 12 years old and two people minimum are required. Suitable for all fitness levels. Pick-up and drop-off from accommodation in central Cape Town is included.
When Daily, 8.30am –  5pm
Cost R2 470 per person
Entry fees for Cape Point Nature Reserve are included
Lunch cost is not included
Where to find it Departure from city centre, with transfers to Cape Point.
Book Now

Appreciate Cape Point from the water

Cape Point: Boat Charter

Feel like an exhilarating open-ocean adventure? Why not visit Cape Point by boat – and see why Sir Francis Drake called it the “fairest cape in all the world”. There are various trips available, suited to different tastes and occasions. The scenic eco-tour along the coastline to Cape Point will appeal to leisure travellers (with a visit to Seal Island included), while serious fishermen will relish being in the nutrient-rich waters, up to 40 nautical miles off Cape Point, where tuna abound; there’s also yellowtail and snoek to be hooked (and crayfish in summer). Bait and tackle are provided, and an experienced guide and photographer are optional. Snacks and refreshments are served on board.
Good to know The trips and charters, all sustainability-focused, allow six to seven passengers at a time. All trips are subject to weather conditions; fish species are seasonal.
When Daily, your choice of time
Cost Marine eco-tour: R1 200 per person (two hours); R5 500 per person (private hire)
Fishing: R3 500 per person; R13 500 (private hire)
Where to find it Yacht Club Jetty, Wharf Street, Simon’s Town, Cape Town
Enquire Now

Stay the night

Cape Point: Cottages

If you simply can’t drag yourself away, or want to explore more than a day trip will allow and experience the quieter reserve in the early morning, you can book an overnight self-catering stay in one of three cottages. Olifantsbos (sleeps 12) is the best choice, in a magnificent setting right on the remote beach of the same name. A little further inland are two log-and-stone cabins called Duiker and Eland (sleep 6 each).
Good to know Smitswinkel Tented Camp, a more basic but still comfortable option, is just outside the entrance. There are six tents sleeping two each and the whole camp can be booked exclusively.
Cost Olifantsbos: From R4 230 for four people; R860 per extra adult, R430 per extra child
Duiker + Eland: From R1 340 for four people; R300 per extra adult, R150 per extra child
Slangkop: From R840 per tent
Contact 021 780 9100 / 021 783 1862

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 12 October 2023

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9 Responses to “Cape Point: The Best Things To Do at this Iconic Landmark”

  1. Elmarie Nel

    Info

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  2. Tamzin

    Ide like more information on what’s happening in and around Cape Town

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  3. Tanya

    Please email me information

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  4. cornelia hovers

    Cape Point is for me the most beautiful spot of SA

    Reply
  5. Serah Petersen

    Our kids are so big know, me and hubby take every opportunity to explore around CT

    Reply
  6. Ingrid Clouts

    Thank you for the amazing blog

    Reply
  7. Marie

    Like to get to know my country better

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