Simon's Town
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 25 05.366 E 030 27.228 pop. 20,000 | elevation 1,403 m/4,603 ft

Simon’s Town is a sleepy naval town in False Bay that was first founded by Simon van der Stel in 1687 and established as the official winter anchorage of the Dutch East India Company in 1743. The town was largely built with the use of slave laborers, many of who were brought from Indonesia, which contributed to the development of a vibrant Muslim community. However, Simon’s Town was deemed a “white” area under the Group Areas Act in 1967 and over 7000 coloured town residents were forcibly removed to an inland settlement that was ironically named Ocean View. Today the city is the official home of the South African Navy and is a great launching point for water activities. But the real attraction here are Jackass Penguins at Boulder Beach, one of the largest colonies of African penguins in South Africa.

Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach

Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach is home to a colony of over 3,000 Jackass Penguins. There are two entrances into the South African National Parks managed section of the beach where the penguins are.

Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach #2 entrance

The second entrance to the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach is generally a little less busy. If you're interested in getting closer to the penguins and avoiding an admission fee, you can head to the entrance off of Bellevue Rd and go directly onto the uncontrolled area across the road to the east, where there are generally hundreds of penguins. You can even put on your swimsuit and jump in the water with them, but remember that these are wild animals and they will bite if they feel threatened.

Bike Rental

Bike Rental is available through Fluids Place Coffee Shop, which is a cool little coffee shop where the owner serves patrons like friends. You can pick up your bike and drop it back off here or at a ByBike location in a neighboring town.

Paddlers Kayaks & Stuff

Paddlers Kayaks & Stuff has rental gear available to head out on your own.

Sea Kayak Simon's Town

You can book a 2-hour sea kayak tour of False Bay, that includes a stop at Boulder Beach to hang with the penguins,
through Sea Kayak Simon's Town.

Bronze Age Sculpture House

Bronze Age Sculpture House is situated in the historic Albertyn's Stables, which in its day served as slave quarters, horse stables and housing for sick sailors. Today it's home to a breathtaking display of contemporary bronze-casted sculptures from South African and international artists, as well as a foundry workshop in the back. Its surprising amount of style seems slightly out of place in naval Simon's Town and is well worth a visit.

Simon's Town Heritage Museum

Simon's Town Heritage Museum pays tribute to the history and culture of the Cape Malay Muslim population in Simon's Town and their forced removal from Simon's Town when the city was declared a "white" zone under apartheid in 1967.

South African Naval Museum

South African Naval Museum is located at the sight of the original Dockyard Magazine/Storehouse built in 1744. Past the heavy artillery at the entrance are displays on every aspect of South African's naval history, including a diving submarine in the basement.

Simon's Town Museum

Simon's Town Museum provides extensive information about the history of Simon's Town. The building itself was built in 1777 as the winter home for the Governor of the Dutch East India Company.

Craftart & Gallery

Craftart & Gallery is just across the street from the Tourism Information Centre, which is the best of a number of cutesy gift and clothing stores along St George's St.

Simon's Town Backpackers

Simon's Town Backpackers is a tranquil backpackers located on the main drag with a large second-story balcony overlooking Simon's Bay. The rooms are comfortable, there is a well-stocked bar and a computer for Internet use. The backpackers can also assist in arranging area activities and tours.

Central Hotel

Central Hotel has stood at the center of town since 1828 and operated as a hotel since 1894. It has been restored in Victorian style and converted into a 10-room guest house with balcony rooms with a great view of the harbor.

Simonsview Guest House

Simonsview Guest House has three, large airy rooms on two levels of a house on the hillside overlooking the ocean. The friendly host, Eleanor lives at the house and is more than willing to provide advice and arrange area activities. Two of the rooms have a kitchen for self-catering. From Simon's Town, head north on the Main Rd/M4 and turn left on Dido Valley Rd, take the first right onto Penguin Rd and then the third left onto Seemeeu St.

The Winston

The Winston has stunning views from each of its large rooms, which all have a TV and small wine fridge, and open to a communal patio. Upstairs there is a comfortable lounge with panoramic views that you can whale watch from between July and October. Outside is a small swimming pool and sunny lounge deck. From Simon's Town, head south on the Main Rd/M4 and turn right onto Rockland Rd. You will see the guesthouse immediately on your right.

Tibetan Teahouse

Tibetan Teahouse is a vegetarian gem in Simon's Town with a fabulous view of False Bay that will please vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The Tibetan restaurant is adjoined to a gallery that displays a wide selection of jewelry, paintings, textiles and glasswork, much of which is for sale. They also have meditation sessions and film screenings. Check their website for details.

The Bay Café

The Bay Café is trendier than your average Simon's Town café. It serves bruschetta, pizza, pasta, burgers and more substantial daily specials in a carefully aged dining room with rough hardwood floors and peeled paint picture frames. They serve Illy coffee and their playlist is decent.

Black Marlin

Black Marlin is located in a former whaling station right on the point with panoramic views of the ocean. The menu is long with an emphasis on fresh seafood and includes Cape Rock lobster, oysters and mussels. They also have an extensive wine list and selection of whiskey. It also happens to be the lunch spot for some tour buses making their way to the Cape Point.

The Meeting Place

The Meeting Place serves a tasty breakfast and lunch among a predominantly white and silver array of home décor for sale, as well as teas, jams, and coffee.

The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing is an adorable patisserie with a wide selection of sweet tarts, treats and tortes, as well as a few more savory specialties.

Salty Sea Dog

Salty Sea Dog is your standard seaside fish and chips. Take away or dine in within spitting distance of the docks.

The Two and Sixpence Tavern

The Two and Sixpence Tavern has been serving newcomers since 1902. Nowadays it looks more like a sailor's pub but has a selection of drafts and a pool table.

Lord Nelson's Pub

Lord Nelson's Pub is a small but well-stocked sailors pub that tends to have a steady stream of customers by day and night.