Get wet while the sun shines.
Whether you’re a boundary-pushing thrill-seeker, or just partial to some watery fun, there’s an adventure with your name on it in the Cape peninsula. And with summer on the wane, there’s hardly a better time to take the plunge. From scuba-diving and surfing to white-water rafting and SUPing, these are the best water adventures in the Cape. Time to get wet while the sun shines!
Important notes Some of the featured activities require the presence of an experienced guide and safety equipment; do not attempt them alone.
Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crimes and accidents do happen.
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.
Which are your favourite? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Coasteering in Simon’s Town
You may have heard of kloofing (where adventurers don wetsuits and make their way down a ravine, swimming and cliff-jumping along the way), but have you heard of coasteering? It’s the same concept but it takes place along a protected coastline.
Pioneered in Wales and Scotland (those crazy Celts!), the rugged watersport involves making your way along a section of coastline, swimming and rock scrambling where necessary. All skill levels are welcome on this adventure in Simon’s Town, which is accompanied by a guide, and each participant is equipped with a wetsuit, PFD (personal flotation device), helmet and booties.
There’s the opportunity for exhilarating cliff jumps into the sea (though you don’t have to do those if you prefer not to), as well as snorkelling amid the diverse marine life.
Good to know Minimum group size is two people and participants must be at least eight years of age. Activities are subject to weather conditions. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance. Transport can be arranged at an additional cost. Private groups are available on request.
Times Tours start any day of the week at 7am or 9am.
Duration 2 – 3 hours
Cost R450 per person
Where to find it Tours start at Windmill Beach, Simon’s Town
Ever stood on the edge of the Sea Point Promenade and gazed out towards the vast ocean, wondering what it would be like to just sail away into the horizon? Well, you can do exactly that…
The two-hour guided tours of the Atlantic Seaboard coastline depart from Three Anchor Bay beach and venture along the coastline towards the V&A Waterfront (or Clifton Beach) – depending on the weather and your preference.
On the Simon’s Town side, tours venture alongside the resident penguin colony at Boulders Beach, granting kayakers the opportunity to get up close and personal with these wonderful aquatic birds.
Times Simon’s Town kayak: Daily, 8.30am – 10.30am (October – March); 9am – 11am (April – September)
Sea Point kayak: Daily, 6.30am – 8.30am; 9am – 11am; 11.30am – 1.30pm
Cost Simon’s Town kayak: R350 (until end-March 2021); R380 (from 1 April 2021)
Sea Point kayak: R450
Where to find it Simon’s Town kayak: Simon’s Town Waterfront, Wharf Street, Simon’s Town
Sea Point kayak: 179 Beach Road, Mouille Point, Cape Town
Book Simon’s Town Kayak
Book Sea Point Kayak
Shipwreck + reef diving
The wrecks that lie strewn across the shores and seabed of the “Cape of Storms” tell a storied history of war, exploration and industry. The guided tour of SAS Pietermaritzburg at Miller’s Point on the False Bay coast, is a popular site for introductory and night dives, due to its moderate depth and short distance from the launch site.
For those not keen on diving too deep, tours can be customised according to your dive qualification and requirements. There’s also the option to dive through the reefs and kelp, and explore the floral kingdoms inhabiting the Cape waters.
Please note Participants must have a PADI Open Water Diver license with at least 50 dives or the equivalent, and must bring their Dive Certification Card to the meeting point. Quick pool dives are available before the boat trip, for those who need a refresher (particularly if you have not dived within the last year), at an additional cost. It’s also recommended that you bring warm clothing, a towel and sunblock. And, if you prefer, you can bring your own diving equipment. Times may change depending on weather.
Times Saturday & Sunday, 8am – 2pm
Cost R2 200 (includes two guided dives, Marine Protected Area permit for diving in protected waters, full equipment rental, coffee or tea, and light lunch at Pisces Divers, as well as water, hot chocolate and chocolates on the
Where to find it Pisces Divers Shop: Goods Shed, 1 Main Road, Simon’s Town, Cape Town
SUP around the V&A Waterfront
Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUPing) has seen an upsurge in popularity over the past decade, but in truth, it’s been around a lot longer than most other sports. (Ancient fishermen made their living off it, and African warriors used it to launch stealth attacks using their spears as paddles).
On these outings, paddlers get to experience the V&A Waterfront from its majestic canals, during a three-kilometre loop. All equipment is provided, along with the services of an experienced guide, and you’ll receive a brief introduction to SUPing before you set off.
Good to know Children over nine years are welcome, and younger kids may be assisted by an instructor or a parent (at additional charge of R90).
Times Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm; Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 4pm (April – September)
Monday – Sunday, 8am – 6pm (October – March)
Where to find it Battery Park, V&A Waterfront (parking access from Alfred Road, just behind City Lodge), Cape Town
Canyoning in Wellington
Spend the day exploring Bain’s Kloof by foot, jumping into and swimming in crystal-clear pools. Though the pass (completed in 1853) spans 30 kilometres, the adventure only covers around two kilometres, and there are no compulsory jumps or abseils, making it a great introduction to kloofing for almost anyone. A helmet and wetsuit will be provided to protect you from the sun and in case of slipping on rocks.
Good to know Minimum group size is two people and participants must be at least eight years of age. Activities are subject to weather conditions. Bookings must be made 24 hours in advance. Transport can be arranged at an additional cost. Private groups are available on request. A reasonable level of fitness and agility is required.
Times From 9am (available October to May)
Duration 3 hours
Cost R550 per person
Where to find it Bain’s Kloof, Wellington
Swimming in a dam
The Cape is blessed with an abundance of picturesque rivers and dams, where leisurely swims in nature abound. Of course, it’s best to seek out swimming spots that fall within the jurisdiction of CapeNature and SANParks Nature Reserves, as these areas will be safer, and better cared for. A popular destination is Silvermine Reservoir. Situated between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, the large, glistening pool is open to everybody, including pooches, but there are no lifeguards on duty, so swimming is at your own risk. There’s a 1km trail around the water with a boardwalk that’s easily accessible for wheelchairs and prams. There are also loads of picture-perfect picnic spots dotted around the reserve.
Times Daily, 8am – 5pm (May to August); Daily, 7am – 6pm (September to April)
Cost Conservation fee (rates valid until 31 October 2021):
R35 (SA citizens and residents with ID); R15 (SA children, 2 – 11 years)
R70 (SADC nationals with valid passport); R35 (SADC children with valid passport)
R140 (international visitors; standard conservation fee); R70 (international children; standard conservation fee)
Please 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. Dog walkers require a Level 1 My Activity Permit. 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.
Contact 021 712 0527, firstname.lastname@example.org (Table Mountain National Park)
Where to find it Silvermine Reservoir in Table Mountain National Park (via M3)
River-rafting + tubing in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve
During winter, heavy rains turn the otherwise-serene Palmiet River in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve into an adventure zone of white-water rapids. The drive from Cape Town takes an hour-and-a-half and, once there, you’ll be met by a gushing river lined by fynbos-dotted mountains.
River rafting takes place in two-person inflatable vessels (“crocodiles”) between June and October. Registered guides lead the way, sharing their knowledge of the area, as well as tips on how to steer your raft. The bigger rapids are optional, and can be skipped if you prefer a more relaxed excursion, making the experience suitable for all ages and skill levels.
Please note Rafting is a winter activity and, although tubing is available during spring and summer, it’s usually not available during the in-between season change when the river is too low for rafting and a bit too high for safe tubing.
No experience is required and the minimum age is eight years. To keep tours intimate and the environment serene, the excursions are limited to 20 people per day, with a minimum of 10 people.
All boating and safety equipment is provided including lifejackets, gloves, paddle jackets and helmets. You’ll also receive all necessary permits, snacks and transport – a packed lunch and riverside braai are available at an extra cost. Please bring a change of clothes, towel and closed shoes with a back strap that can get wet. And bring along your own wetsuit if you have, or hire one for R100.
Times Rafting: June – October
Tubing: September – mid-January; April – June
Meeting times are flexible, but usually at 10am (subject to availability and weather conditions)
Duration 3 – 4 hours
Cost Rafting: From R550
Tubing: From R495
Where to find it CapeNature Office, Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve
Paddling on the Breede River
This rafting trip, on the Breede River just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, is ideal for all ages and skill levels, as there are no demanding rapids and the inflatable crocs are stable and easy to paddle. It’s a wonderfully unique way to immerse yourself in the waterways of the country’s largest wine-producing valley!
The tour starts with a safety briefing (and snack) on the riverbanks, before hitting the water. Then it’s time for lunch (a healthy picnic-style on the riverbanks) before another session of paddling. The day ends in the late afternoon with a glass of local wine and some snacks on the riverbanks.
Good to know The minimum group size is four people, and the maximum is 12. Larger groups (up to 40 people) can also be accommodated.
Duration Half- and full-day adventures are available, with the option to extend to one or two nights.
Times Daily, 9am – 5pm
Cost R1 850
Where to find it CapeNature Office, Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve
Seal snorkelling in Hout Bay
Rubber ducks (Zodiacs) will transport you and your guides from Hout Bay harbour to the snorkelling site at Duiker Island. Once there, you’re free to plop into the water and swim with the seals, who are more than happy to frolic around with you. Underwater camera rental is available at an additional cost. And, if you’d prefer to view the seals from the boat rather than go snorkelling, you’re more than welcome to!
Please note Trips are weather-dependent. Previous snorkelling experience is not required, but you need to be a competent swimmer, and comfortable in the water. The minimum age for seal snorkelling is 10 years, and six years to view from the boat with a parent (or guardian) present. Vouchers are available on request at special rates, and are valid for two years from date of purchase.
Times Monday – Sunday, 9.30am (available on request); 11.30am; 1.30pm
Duration 2.5 hours (time in the water is around 40 to 60 minutes)
Cost R550 (seal-snorkelling, SA residents, includes snorkelling equipment and wetsuits; transport from the office in Hout Bay to the seal-snorkelling location and back; as well as drinking water, biscuits and hot chocolate aboard the boat)
R650 (seal-snorkelling, international visitors)
Where to find it 8 Albert Road, Hout Bay (via M6 or M3), Cape Town
Visit a sea cave
If you have pirate tendencies (and are seeking a place to bury treasure), Waenhuiskrans is the cave you’ve been looking for. It lies just off the sandy shoreline of Arniston, but explorers will need to wait for low tide before making their way through the shallow water to the cave entrance (be careful as you navigate the slippery, seaweed-strewn rocks that lie beneath the water’s surface).
Once inside, take a moment to marvel at nature’s craftsmanship (the cave was fashioned over the course of centuries by the movement of the tides), then you can explore the many rockpools that lie scattered throughout. All manner of sea dwellers have been carried in on the tides, and many of them have taken up residence within the cave rather than return to the open ocean. There’s a variety of rock-dwelling marine life, and one explorer even found an octopus.
Fun fact Waenhuiskrans, the name of this cave, means wagon house cliff and arises from an old legend that the cave is big enough for an ox-wagon to do a full turn inside.
Please note You can only access the cave during low tide, so be sure to contact Cape Agulhas Tourism (details provided below) for information on the tides.
Contact Cape Agulhas Tourism: 028 424 2584 or 028 424 2883, email@example.com
Where to find it Arniston, via N2 and R316 (2 hours and 42 minute drive)
Surfing at Muizenberg
Surfing enthusiasts will tell you there’s no greater way to destress than to be in the ocean, riding the waves. And, while you can catch epic swell pretty much anywhere along the Cape coast, Muizenberg is ideal for beginners, and these fun lessons will have you learning the basics in no time at all. All you need to bring is a swimming costume, towel, sunscreen and enthusiasm. All skill levels and ages are welcome: intermediate-level surfers will be able to fine-tune their board skills in group or private lessons and under-10s will take Freezer Lessons.
Good to know All surf lessons offered include 1.5 hours of coaching, surfboard and wetsuit rental, plus the use of club facilities. The 1.5-hour private surf lessons (as well as private group sessions with family and friends) can be scheduled at a time convenient to you.
Times Monday – Sunday, 7am – 6pm
Cost From R260 – R390 (1.5-hour private lessons)
From R330 (one-hour Freezer Lesson for children under 10 years)
R540 per month (Diva and Learn-to-Surf lessons)
Where to find it Surf Emporium Surf School, 66 Beach Road, Surfer’s Corner, Muizenberg Beachfront, Muizenberg, Cape Town
Water-biking in the sea
These marine bikes make walking on water as easy as pie. All you need to do is take a seat, and pedal away, exactly like you would on a normal bicycle. Besides being fun, they’re stable and don’t require fuel (nor do they emit emissions), making them environmentally friendly.
The tours are accompanied by a knowledgeable crew on a nearby guide boat, and take you from Simon’s Town pier, past the naval base and towards Boulders Beach. Your seated position allows you more than a peek into the marine life of Cape fur seals (and even whales during season).
Good to know Subject to weather conditions.
Times 10.30am; 12pm; 1.30pm (one-hour tour)
Cost R390 (1 hour, special until end-September 2021)
R490 (1 hour)
Where to find it Simon’s Town Pier, Simon’s Town, Cape Town
River-rafting on the Orange River
It may not be in the Western Cape, but we couldn’t leave this iconic South African adventure off our list. If you haven’t already done it, make sure it’s on your bucket list!
The trip starts when you meet your guides on the riverbanks at basecamp, before setting out on the 35km trip the next morning. Starting near Pofadder in the Northern Cape, you’ll hop into inflatable two-person boats that are very stable and easy to paddle and steer. This section of the river is arguably the best, as it offers a variety of conditions suitable for all types of thrillseekers. From flat water with flowing channels to a number of exciting small and big rapids to get the adrenaline pumping. In fact, at high water, it becomes a whitewater trip! Scenic highlights include the Orange Gorge and the Richie Falls (the second highest waterfall on the river, after Augrabies) and you’ll have plenty of time to relax and explore the camp – you certainly won’t miss electricity, cellphones, computers or daily stress.
Good to know You’ll need to carry all your belongings. All you need to bring is your personal gear and drinks of your choice; meals are included, as well as boating and safety equipment. Minimum group size is 10 people for the activity to go ahead.
Duration 3 days, 4 nights
Cost R6 250 per person
Where to find it Onseepkans, Northern Cape
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