Saturday, May 29, 2010

See Cape Town's False Bay beaches by train

Very few visitors enjoying a holiday in Cape Town know about an economical and unique way to experience a tour of the southern peninsula of Cape Town and the coastal suburbs of False Bay. The suburban rail service that serves the suburbs along the line from Cape Town to Simonstown is not just for commuters. It is an inexpensive and relaxing way to travel and see so many of the attractions from a perspective that you might not otherwise enjoy. Although it is an interesting trip for adults, your kids will really love you if you take them on a train journey from Muizenberg to Simonstown.

At the start of your journey you will board the train at the historic Colonial red brick and stone faced station building with a teak clock tower, built around 1913. It houses a couple of antique shops and a popular restaurant overlooking the sea. The train journey offers a unique viewing opportunity, as you travel along the spectacular False Bay Coast where the train travels right along the shore, passing beautiful beaches, tidal pools and at times skirting the sea with just a line of rocks between the rail and the sea. Open the carriage window so that you can inhale the fresh sea air, as you marvel at the spectacular view that you will have across the whole of False Bay. Look out for Cecil John Rhodes Western Cape beach cottage as the train passes. At St James you will see the colourful bathing boxes on the beach and watch the bathers at play in the tidal pool. As the train proceeds you will undoubtedly see surfers riding the waves as they speed towards the rocks, and Kayakers paddling across the bay. Further down the line is Kalk bay; still a working fishing harbour, but a popular destination with both locals and tourists because of the main road being lined with galleries, restaurants, antique shops and other delights for browsers and collectors. There is an ice cream shop in the main Road that is so popular that even Jamie Oliver has eaten there. You are bound to delight in the colourful fishing boats bobbing at their moorings in the harbour, and perhaps succumb to the temptation to alight for a shopping and photographing opportunity.

As the train rounds the corner towards Fish Hoek, it runs right along the sea and affords a marvellous opportunity to watch the whales basking and at play. You may be lucky enough to spot one just a few metres from the the train line. Clovelly station comes up just before Fish Hoek – look out for the unusual sign- it is the only station in the world with a sign prohibiting fishing from the platform. The train will continue along Fish Hoek beach where you might spot fishermen pulling their catches in. Continue the journey, hugging the shore of Simon’s bay, with plenty more opportunities for whale watching as the bay abounds with these magnificent creatures between June and October each year. Simonstown is the home of the South African Navy and it is not unusual to see one or more of the warships or submarines manoeuvring in the bay, which will undoubtedly delight the children. At your journey's end in Simonstown you will find another historic station building. There is much to keep you in this Naval town, and you might want to spend the day here before making the return journey. A walk to the centre of the town will take you through the interesting historic mile with its eclectic selection of historic buildings. Perhaps you might want to take a cab to visit the famous African penguin colony at Boulders Beach which was recently rated by a UK magazine as the best family beach in the world.
Whilst you can purchase your train tickets at Muizenberg station, Metrorail Southern Line Tourism Route also offers a hop-on hop-off ticket from Cape Town to Observatory, Newlands, Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek Stations for just R30 per one day ticket OR R50 for a 2-day ticket. You might want to take advantage of this great opportunity to stop at one of these charming beach towns and spend the night in one of the many affordable family accommodation establishments before continuing your journey. If you purchase the hop-on-hop off ticket you will also be provided with a map showing all the attractions of each of the suburbs within a 2 km walking distance . You can find the details at this URL

A further innovative partnership project between Cape Town Tourism, Metrorail Western Cape and The Green Cab, known as the Rail and Ride initiative, was launched at Noordhoek Farm village on 27 May 2010. It will offer tourists a scenic travel opportunity by rail and eco-friendly cab from Cape Town to Simonstown, commencing in the first week of June 2010, in time for the World Cup. The route will include a Southern Line train ride from Cape Town to Fish Hoek, followed by a “Green Cab” taxi ride along the scenic coastline to Cape Point, with a return to Simonstown. The tour can be pre-booked and visitors travelling on the Southern Line Tourism Route will travel in a designated carriage accompanied by informed tourist guides and dedicated security guards. Green Cabs are available at Simonstown station to take you on a guided tour through Simonstown by way of the famous African penguin colony at Boulders beach to the spectacular Cape point nature reserve. The cost of ZAR 600 (US$80) includes transport, tour guide, security as well as entrance to Boulders Beach Penguin Colony and Cape Point Nature reserve, making it excellent value for money. The Rail and Ride service will be offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, departing from Platform Five at Cape Town Station.

For more information about the tours contact Metrorail : : or the Green Cab +27 (0)86 184 3473 or call Cape Town Tourism on +27 (0)21 487 6800.

For affordable self catering family accommodation convenient to all of these wonderful attractions, take advantage now of the low “Secret Season” winter rates at Horizon Holiday Cottages in Noordhoek.

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