Set against a mountain backdrop and affording uninterrupted views of False Bay is the pretty seaside village of St. James. First inhabited by shipwrecked sailors, St. James attracts visitors with its family-friendly beach and colonial architecture, wildlife spotting, coastal walks and hikes to viewpoints.
The small beach is a focal point of the village and its colorful Victorian beach huts make a beautiful photograph with the mountain in the background. A tidal pool toward the south end of the beach offers a safe swimming environment and generally warmer water than the surrounding ocean. Kids can enjoy exploring the rock pools and looking for sea creatures. From June to November it’s possible to spot southern right whales from the beach.
Walk north from the village along a coastal pathway to the beachside suburb Muizenberg. Watch surfers and fisherman and spot seals playing on the rocks. Keep an eye out for colonial-era houses, including the 19th-century St. James Cottage. It’s said that during the Anglo-Boer War, the cottage’s owner hid prisoners of war in the loft and then aided in their escape across the bay.
Along St. James main road you’ll find a handful of bars, restaurants and galleries. Stop by the Artvark Gallery to see sculpture, ceramic and steelwork displays as well as photography and painting exhibitions. Continue walking until you reach Kalk Bay, a village known for its cafés, bookstores and antique shops. Go to the harbor to arrange a boat trip to Seal Island, home to a large colony of seals. From April to August you might also see great white sharks.
For more views of False Bay, follow the hiking trails that lead from Boyes Drive into the Silvermine Nature Reserve. The trails pass forest and orchards, waterfalls and interesting rock formations. Visit the official website of Table Mountain National Park for more information
St. James is a 30-minute drive from Cape Town’s city center. Street parking is free. A fun way to get here is on the Atlantic Rail steam train that travels between Cape Town and Simon’s Town. Find full details on the train’s official website.