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 at Cape Agulhas). At Cape Point Nature Reserve, the mountain and ocean meet in a thunderous clash of water against rock, producing a dramatic landscape inhabited by an incredible diversity of life. As the tip of land juts out like on outstretched arm, the ocean swells around it, and multitudes of birds flock to its pristine beaches and rugged cliffs.
With a plethora of things to do and see – from the majestic mountains to the mighty ocean, not to mention the impressive flora and fauna in between – Cape Point is a wonderful day-trip destinations for locals and tourists alike. Whether it’s discovering the rich history of the area, enjoying a beach walk or swim in the tidal pools, or simply relishing time under the African sun, there is bound to be something for the whole family.
Funicular at Cape Point
If you’d like to see the old lighthouse (as well as the stunning panoramic views on offer at Cape Point), the Flying Dutchman Funicular is a schlep-free way to do so. The two 40-seater carriages travel from the parking lot along an almost 600-metre track through dense fynbos to the old lighthouse every three minutes!
Once at the top (roughly 90 metres above the parking lot), you’re met with spectacular views of the Cape’s point and surrounding beaches. Keep a keen eye out for the famed ghost of the Flying Dutchman – a ship that was torn to shreds along Cape Point three-and-a-half centuries ago – said to still sail the nearby seas, desperately seeking aid.
Cost R70, adult return
R55, adult single
R30, child return
R22, child single
R30, pensioner return: Wednesdays only
R22, pensioner single: Wednesdays only
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5.30pm
Walk the shipwreck trail at Cape Point
Also known as the Olifantsbos trail, this is a short and easily accessible walk (around three kilometres or one hour and 30 minutes). It leads down to the beach through fynbos foliage where the prominent SS Thomas T. Tucker, wrecked in 1942, lies. This former WWII troops and weapons transport vessel is Cape Point’s most photographed shipwreck and its hull is home to local birdlife.
Two Oceans Restaurant at Cape Point
Windswept, rosy-cheeked and hungry visitors will find a light and airy eatery at Cape Point’s long-standing restaurant (it opened its doors in 1995), where large sea-facing windows paint the picture of Mediterranean summers on the beach. Sit on the deck and imagine you’re on an ocean liner with the sea stretching out as far as the eye can see, while tucking into a tasty seafood meal.
Good to know Booking is recommended even outside of peak season.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 780 9200, email@example.com
Vasco da Gama + Bartolomeu Dias monuments at Cape Point
Driving or hiking around Cape Point, you might stumble upon two tall white pillars with a cross on top. The monuments were erected in honour of Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama, two explorers who passed by and fell in love with Cape Point.
While Bartolomeu Dias wasn’t successful in his mission to sail from Europe around Africa to India, he is one of the most famous explorers to have passed the Cape. In 1488 after reaching what is believed to be Port Alfred in the Eastern Cape, he turned his ship around and stumbled upon Cape Point, which he named Cape of Storms.
After Dias’ unsuccessful quest to reach India, Portuguese King, João II, ordered Vasco da Gama to complete the trip in 1497. Similarly to Dias, Da Gama struggled to round Cape Point and only managing on his third attempt in five days.
The tidal pools at Cape Point
Picnic Company & Mustard Catering
Even though the nature reserve is popular albeit notoriously windy, Buffels Bay is a relatively sheltered and crowd-free beach. With breathtaking white sands, clear blue waters and patches of lawn, it’s easy to see why families and friends seek it out. It is perfect for picnics and braais, and the safe tidal pool is great for a post-hike (or -cycle) dip.
On the other side of Buffels Bay (though accessed via a separate road) is Bordjiesdrif. It’s a sheltered, popular fishing spot, with a large tidal pool and grassier braai spots. The shoreline is fairly rocky, indicating the name’s meaning: “little plate reef”.
Game, whale + bird-watching at Cape Point
Cape Point promises hikes, swims and historical discoveries, but there’s also a plethora of fauna roaming the reserve. From baboons carrying their pups on their backs and herds of ostriches strolling on the beach, animal lovers should keep watch, as the reserve is also home to a variety of antelope as well as Cape foxes, genets, polecats, mole rats, porcupines, mongooses, tortoises and snakes. It also provides some excellent bird watching with over 270 species of birds calling the reserve it’s home.
And keep an eye on the horizon, as you might just spot a whale or two during whale season (between August and October).
Braaing + picnicking at Cape Point
In addition to endless ocean views, rugged rocks, impressive cliffs and all flora and fauna that abounds, Cape Point Nature Reserve also boasts several spots where you can park your car and enjoy an alfresco picnic.
Buffels Bay and Bordjiesdrif have wonderful braai and picnic spots, complete with a safe tidal pool for the children to swim in. Bring your own grid and wood, and don’t feed the baboons!
Cape of Good Hope at Cape Point
The Cape of Good Hope is one of the Cape’s most popular tourist destination. With its spectacular natural beauty, abundant flora and fauna, and outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking and cycling – not to mention the backdrop of mountains and coastline – there’s enough here to keep visitors busy for hours on end.
Good to know The Cape of Good Hope is often thought of as the southernmost point of Africa but this is not the case. Cape Agulhas actually holds that title. It is, however, the most southwestern point.
The Old Lighthouse at Cape Point
One of the first things that visitors to the Cape Point Nature Reserve do is either walk or take the funicular up the steep pathway to Cape Point’s first lighthouse. The impressive structure was built in 1859, but instead of guiding ships to safety, it was often the cause of mishaps. The lighthouse is often concealed by clouds, as it sits too high above the ocean, so ships approaching from the east would see the light too clearly and approach too closely causing many wrecks.
In 1911 the new lighthouse was built, and remains one of the most powerful lighthouses on the South African coast, with a range of 60 kilometres and a luminous intensity of 10 million candelas.
From the old lighthouse, breathtaking views of the two oceans and surrounding coastline can be enjoyed. From August until October, you might even catch sightings of whales although you’ll need to use the onsite binoculars (or bring your own) to see them properly!
Secret beaches at Cape Point
While Cape Point is popular for its hiking trails, the old lighthouse, and the Cape of Good Hope, its secluded beaches are a draw card all on their own. Three such beaches are Diaz, Olifantsbos and Maclear.
Diaz Beach is without a doubt one of Cape Town’s most beautiful, and remains largely undisturbed due to its 20-minute walk from the parking lot down a rather steep set of wooden stairs to the white sands. But for the stunning views alone, it’s undoubtedly worth it, as Diaz will render you breathless in the best possible way! Please note No swimming is allowed at Diaz Beach, due to its strong currents.
Olifantsbos Beach is edged by wild, natural fynbos, and its stretch of coastline offers you the chance to discover at least three shipwrecks, which bear testament to the ferocity of the infamous Cape of Storms. It is also a marine protected area and has a nearby shallow lagoon, which draws wonderful coastal birdlife to the area.
Maclear Beach is probably the most secluded of the lot and is reached by following one of two fynbos-lined footpaths. It lies just off of the Cape of Good Hope and offers truly spectacular views and excellent rock pools for young (and old) explorers.
Cost Cape Point Nature Reserve daily conservation fee (rates valid until 31 October 2019):
R76 (SA citizens and residents with ID)
R39 (SA children, aged 2-11)
R152 (SADC nationals with valid passport)
R76 (SADC children with valid passport)
R303 (international visitors; standard conservation fee)
R152 ((international children; standard conservation fee)
Important note In order to qualify for SA rates, you must be able to prove you are an SA citizen, by presenting a valid SA ID, passport or driver’s license.
Good to know The SANParks’ My Green Card entitles you to 12 free entries into the pay points of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) within a one-year period. If you are a frequent visitor to Cape Point, Boulders, Oudekraal, Silvermine, and the braai and picnic areas at Tokai, Newlands and Perdekloof, this card is worth purchasing.
Note The My Green Card may only be bought by South Africans with an ID number who have proof of a Cape Town address not older than 3 months.