The Republic of Hout Bay

To the locals that live in Hout Bay, it's quite commonly referred to as 'The Republic of Hout Bay'. The reason for this is that there are only three ways to access this beautiful little suburb. On a visit to this Cape Town based seaside village, you could even pick up a fake passport and call yourself one of the members of this close-knit community. What sets it apart as a great choice for a South Africa holiday is its uniqueness. Where else could you watch a lively local fisherman feed his friend the Cape Fur Seal? Or take an awe-inspiring drive on one of the most scenic coastal roads in the world, Chapman's Peak?

Hout Bay was formerly a prominent fishing village and has managed to intertwine the elements of a fishing harbour and a charming seaside/country village perfectly. Aesthetically breathtaking, views of ocean and mountain are naturally designed to keep anyone captivated at the pure raw presence of nature in Hout Bay. Interestingly, Hout Bay was named by Jan Van Riebeeck and it literally translates to 'Wood Bay'. After landing in Table Bay in 1652 he found dense forests in Hout Bay, which provided the timber needed for the construction of ships and the Castle in Cape Town. Today, this is what you should be on everyone's list when taking a trip or staying in Hout Bay:

1. Chapman's Peak

Naturally, pardon the pun, Chapman's Peak drive is simply a must. It winds its way scenically between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. This nine kilometre route has over 114 curves and skirts around Chapman's Peak, the 593m high southerly extension of Constantia Berg. Picture stopping at one of the many picnic spots situated on this coastline route to enjoy lunch, while you gaze across the Atlantic Ocean. 180 degree views will keep your camera trigger hands happy.

2. Mariner's Wharf

Mariner's Wharf is renowned for having the most delicious fish and chips and draws in the crowds, a favourite for locals and visitors alike. It is South Africa's first harbour-front emporium and offers an impressive range of eateries from champagne and oysters to take outs while you walk around the harbour perusing the ships. There are also quaint nautical themed souvenir shops that house beautiful and ocean inspired trinkets for purchase.

3. Duiker Seal Island

There are daily charters from Hout Bay Harbour to Duiker Seal Island. The island is below guardian of Hout Bay, the Sentinel Mountain and is where thousands of Cape Fur Seals frolic and lounge sunbathing. The smell of these curious sea creatures can be a little overwhelming but the 45 minute boat trip also offers the opportunity to spot whales, in season and see the Cape Fur Seal in its natural habitat.

4. Hout Bay Beach and Restaurants

The long sand beach of Hout Bay is the perfect spot for swimming and some adventurous water sports like sea kayaking, sailing, fishing, surfing or paddle boarding. It's a hive of activity and is surrounded by some of the best restaurants in Cape Town. Dunes is a popular beach bar that is right opposite Hout Bay Beach, the sand even forms part of the decor. A hop skip and a jump away is Pakalolo's, a beach bar themed restaurant that has live bands on a Friday night and the more upmarket Chapman's Peak Hotel restaurant is next door. The sweet pleasures of good food, atmosphere, scenery and activity is very much alive in Hout Bay.

5. Bay Harbour Market

Vibrancy thrives at the Bay Harbour Market. This eclectic market was voted one of the best markets in Cape Town. This is the place where artisans congregate to showcase their wares. Over 80 stall traders offer everything from novelties, vintage clothing and intricate handmade jewellery to wellness goods, soft furnishings and antiques. It's a pleasant assault on the senses as you wander around. Hearty meals and craft beers are a popular pastime while enjoying the sounds of local bands that play on a Friday evening. It is by far one of the best activities in Hout Bay.

6. World of Birds

This is the largest bird park in Africa and is a tranquil sanctuary with four hectares of aviaries. More than 3000 birds and small animals provide an unrivalled face-to-face interaction with some of nature's most spectacular specimens. There is also the monkey jungle with the cutest squirrel monkeys. This is a great place to take the kids and a pristine environment for avid photographers.

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