Our best things to do in Kalk Bay

Our best things to do in Kalk Bay Bob Johnston, Panoramio

Whether it's food, art or adventure you're after, this seaside village has something for everyone.

Part-sleepy fishing village and part-buzzy high street, Kalk Bay’s eclectic mix of people, historic buildings, cobbled streets, bohemian bric-a-brac shops, vintage bookstores, art and antique galleries, colourful fishing vessels and excellent restaurants is what makes it so unique and charming. We round up the best things to do in Kalk Bay.

1. Bob’s Bagels

Bob's Bagels Kalk Bay
Image credit: Nic Gibson

What is it A cool neighbourhood café selling freshly prepared bagels and good coffee.
Why we love it The coffee is freshly roasted, the bagels are chewy and delicious, and stuffed to the brim with bacon, avo, smoked salmon and/or cream cheese. When it’s sunny, sit on the lawn in the park across the way and enjoy your bagel. Or browse the adjoining shop for unique ceramics and photographs on canvas by top and well-known local artists.
Contact 083 280 0012, robinpoll@netactive.co.za
Location Rouxville Road, Kalk Bay

2. Kalk Bay Harbour

The iconic Kalk Bay Harbour

What is it Rich in history, the fishing harbour – with its iconic lighthouse – has seen the rise and fall of industries, and survived all of them. First came the Dutch colonists, who used the port to ship supplies of lime (or “kalk” as they called it) to Cape Town. Then came the British, who turned it into a whaling station. Once that practice was rightfully abolished, it was replaced by a thriving fishing industry. Fishermen can still be seen bringing in fresh hauls every day, but with the town having reinvented itself as a cultural and gastronomic hub, the harbour now serves as a source of inspiration for artists and a symbol of the Cape’s iconic beauty.
Why we love it Mosey on down to the harbour during winter and you’ll gain new appreciation for the term “Cape of storms”, as large waves have been known to come hurtling into the bay, crashing against the jetty with substantial impact. It’s also great for seal watching, and you might even spot the occasional whale.
Contact 021 487 6800, info@capetown.travel (Cape Town Tourism)
Location Main Road, Kalk Bay

3. Echo Valley

echo valley kalk bay
Image credit: The Great Adventurer

IMPORTANT NOTE Visitors are urged to be on their guard, as there have been some unfortunate incidents at Silvermine recently, including an attack in which several people were stabbed.
Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.
We also recommend @safetymountain as a useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via whatsapp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.
What is it A scenic hiking trail that takes you high above the harbour and through the Spes Bona forest, leading all the way to Silvermine on Ou Kaapse Weg (if you choose to pursue the full route).
Why we love it It offers spectacular views of False Bay, and a chance for adventurers to explore Boomslang cave – a 506-metre-long rock passage that winds its way from Fish Hoek to Echo Valley, passing rock formations and underground chambers that wouldn’t look out of place in a superhero’s lair. One section of the tunnel has even been nicknamed the Bat’s Chamber. (Visitors are advised not to explore the cave during winter as they may disturb the Schreiber’s long-fingered bats that lurk in the tunnels during the cold season.)
Good to know If you’d like to hike the full route, it helps to have two cars available, so you can park one at the trail’s end point and drive the other to the starting point (depending on whether you choose to start at Boyes Drive or Silvermine).
Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700 (TMNP emergency numbers)
Location Boyes Drive, Silvermine Nature Reserve, Cape Town
TIG reviewer Matthew Flax

4. Save our Seas Shark Education Centre

Shark Education Centre
What is it An educational and research facility dedicated to the preservation of our diverse marine environments. As the name suggests, the focus is on the wide variety of shark species that inhabit the ocean.
Why we love it Kids love sharks! The kings of the ocean; the apex predators. Nothing can hunt the shark…except for humans, of course, and the Shark Education Centre seeks to foster a love of the ocean and an awareness of the impact of human activity. That’s not to say children are the only ones who can benefit from this educational experience.
Contact 021 788 6694, contact@sharkeducationcentre.org
Location 28 Main Road, 7990 Kalk Bay

5. Cape to Cuba

Cape to CubaImage credit: Isabella Ibba

What is it A vibey beachside cocktail bar inspired by Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, with a few nods to rum-drinking American novelist Ernest Hemingway on the side.
Why we love it You’ll get to enjoy some fine mojitos and great atmosphere at this eclectic Caribbean-style cafe. So laidback is the locale that even the thunder of the Kalk Bay train as it occasionally whizzes past becomes just another aspect of its unique character, rather than a disruption.
Contact 021 788 1566, kalkbay@capetocuba.com
Location 165 Main Road, Kalk Bay

6. Kalk Bay Modern Gallery

kalk bay modern gallery
What is it A contemporary arts and crafts gallery that supports local talent and developing communities. Works on display range from San Bushmen art to photography, textiles and jewellry.
Why we love it There’s no better representation of the free and creative spirit that flows throughout Kalk Bay than this hidden gem, perfectly situated above the Olympia Bakery so you can enjoy a browse before or after lunch.
Contact 021 788 6793, kbmodern@iafrica.com   
Location Olympia Building, 136 Main Road, Kalk Bay

7. The Brass Bell

brass bell kalk bay
What is it Situated on the edge of the iconic tidal pools, the old seaside pub is basically an institution around these parts (as well as being one of musician Arno Carstens’ favourite spots). Though the location makes seafood the best fit, the restaurant has a varied menu that also includes woodfired pizzas, burgers and curries.
Why we love it The spectacular ocean views! The Cabin Bar upstairs is warm and welcoming, frequented by locals who’ll no doubt have some interesting stories to tell.
Contact 021 788 5455/6, info@brassbell.co.za
Location Main Road, Kalk Bay

8. Olympia Café & Deli

The quirky interior of this quaint cafe
Image Credit: Go2Africa

What is it Probably the most popular restaurant in this quaint suburb, this rustic café on the Main Road is renowned for its pastries and bread, as well as a blackboard of breakfast, lunch and dinner specials that change daily. Be warned: if you don’t want to queue for a table, get there early…
Why we love it The pastries and bread are baked daily on site (the ciabatta is addictive!), while the hearty breakfasts and good coffee ensure you’ll be back. As one Tripadvisor reviewer comments: “This is one of the restaurants that defines Cape Town’s crazy, quirky, quaint and whimsical character.” We would agree! Add to that, the cafe pets.
Don’t leave without visiting the bakery shop (it’s around the corner and has a red door) to buy a ciabatta or a flaky pain au chocolat. Delicious!
Contact 021 788 6396
Location 134 Main Road, Kalk Bay
TIG reviewer Jackie Lange

9. Kalky’s

What is it Edwin and Liz Rosslind’s large cabin-like restaurant on the harbour quay offers the original and best fish and chips on this coastline. Daughter Allison now runs it, and business is brisk – especially on weekends when crowds queue for the just-caught fish on offer. The most popular dishes are battered hake and chips or snoek and chips, but its calamari, kingklip, yellowtail and prawns are also delicious. A waitress shouts out your number when your order is ready and you tuck in at one of the plastic-covered tables.
Why we love it This is casual value-for-money eating for the whole family at its best.
Don’t leave without buying a piece of smoked snoek from the fish vendors on the quayside, or the catch of the day from the returning fishing boats around noon.
Contact 021 788 1726, kalkysfood@gmail.com
Location Kalk Bay HarbourTIG reviewer Jackie Lange

10. Harbour House

What is it Harbour House towers over the bustling fishing pier and boasts spectacular 360-degree views of the mountain, sea and the distinct Hangklip mountain on the horizon. Once we were able to enjoy an evening cocktail on the upstairs balcony among the locals while whale-watching and gazing down on the fishermen below, but no more… this area is now filled with dining tables.
Why we love it Look out for Harbour House’s specials during off-peak season – two courses for R195, or three for R215, from a selection of delicious starters, mains and desserts. If you want a window table, book it when you phone.
Don’t leave without taking a walk along the pier – the salty air and sea spray is a wonderful tonic.
Contact 021 788 4133, kalkbay@harbourhouse.co.za
Location Kalk Bay Harbour, Kalk Bay
TIG reviewer Jackie Lange

11. The Muizenberg-St James catwalk

Muizenberg St James Catwalk

Image credit: Big Cities Bright Lights

What is it An easy walk popular with locals, visitors, and kids – especially over weekends. It starts at the end of Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg and snakes past rock pools and small beaches, ending up at Danger Beach in St James.
Why we love it It’s revitalising yet not too strenuous – and it’s a mere two-kilometre easy walk on to Kalk Bay, browsing the shops and galleries along the way.
Don’t leave without stopping for a coffee and a snack at any of the local cafés. And if you’re feeling lazy, take the train back to Muizenberg to pick up your car.
TIG reviewer Jackie Lange

12. Kalk Bay Books

kalk bay books
Image credit: The New Radicals

What is it A bookshop with the best sea views in South Africa, if not the world.
Why we love it It’s a gathering place for book lovers who love to browse and buy a books. Locals scramble for a place on the leather sofa – a glass of red vino in hand – when visiting authors appear at one of the many book launches or discussions it hosts.
Contact 021 788 2266, books@kalkbaybooks.co.za
Location 124 Main Road, Kalk BayTIG reviewer Jackie Lange

13. Kalk Bay Theatre

Kalk Bay Theatre
What is it A unique and intimate theatre built lovingly by hand inside the heritage-protected old Dutch Reformed Church on the Main Road.
Why we love it One of several Cape Town dinner and theatre venues, this 72-seater in a converted historic church stages excellent plays that combine an eclectic and historic atmosphere with a special supper-club experience, giving a real sense of community to the area.
Contact 021 788 7257
Location 52 Main Road, Kalk BayTIG reviewer Jackie Lange

We’d love to hear from you! Have we left anything out? Do you agree with our picks? What are your favourites? Drop us a line in the comment section below.

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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: 11 July 2016

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11 Responses to “Our best things to do in Kalk Bay”

  1. Tony Johnston

    I attended Kalk Bay Primary School 1955 to 1960. I have travelled a long way since then.
    I wonder if any past pupils read this ?
    Happy to hear from them.
    As the address suggests, I am currently in Hanoi Vietnam 🙂

    • Colleen (McCarthy) Shedden

      Hi Tony I am sure my sister Sharon and I were at school with you as we also went to Kalk Bay Primary around this time!

    • Eugenie Botha (maiden name)

      Hi Tony I was also at Kalk Bay primary till 1961 then went to FHHS! Living in Fish Hoek now.

  2. Tony Johnston

    I love mountain walking and did lots walking up to Ou Kraal and beyond as a kid in Kalk Bay (that was before Ou Kaapse Weg) BUT on a recent visit I was warned of security concerns when walking on mountain. Your feature does not discuss security at all.
    Please comment

    • Don

      Hi Tony…I think that living in SA these days we need to be constantly conscious of safety, i personally don’t think the mountains are any more risky than a stroll along many main streets.

      • Tony Johnston

        Not sure about your mountain path / main street analogy. There is a certain “safety in numbers” on the main street But I would accept that, like the risk of shark attack, this could be distorted by very few incidents. When last was an incident reported on a walk up to Ou Kraal, for instance ?

  3. Anthea Riffel

    Love all these places.

  4. Heidi

    I meant pancakes!

  5. Heidi

    Tribakery for a consistently good breakfast. The Pancake Place if you like places and the surly French owner! ha ha. The best thing here is the view. And of course C’est La Vie and Dalebrook for a swim, no matter how cold!

    • Nikki Benatar

      Thanks for the tip. Will give the Pancake Place a whirl when I’m next in the area!