One of our favorite highlights in the Western Cape was a day road trip around the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern tip of the African continent (the true southern tip is Cape Agulhas further east). For those who believe the journey is the destination itself, this is the day-trip for you. The Cape of Good Hope Drive is a tour-de-force excursion for visitors to South Africa who will be rewarded with one of the most picturesque drives in the world. Along the way, you will round the very same peninsula navigated by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias; this permanently established the first all naval route between Western Europe and South Asia/Far East. Situated just south of Cape Town, the Cape of Good Hope peninsula is filled with a treasure trove of unique flora and fauna from penguins to ostriches, gorgeous beaches, stunning seaside towns overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and False Bay populated with beach bums and millionaire mansions, and the engineering marvel that is Chapman's Peak Drive. In the post below, we will discuss some of our favorite stops (St. James Beach, Boulder's Beach, Cape of Good Hope, Hout Bay, Chapman's Peak Drive, and sunset back in Cape Town at Camp's Bay) to help create your own Cape of Good Hope Itinerary.
Do plan to rent a car. It is a much more pleasant experience to go on your own to explore the Cape of Good Hope than to be tied to large tour buses and their schedules. And some of the spots on our itinerary/drive are not included in the big tour groups.
Just remember when you drive, you will be driving on the left side of the road
Automatic rental cars are available. Just make your reservation ahead of time.
The circuit we will describe below can be done without stops in 3 hours. But obviously the whole point of the exercise is to explore the nooks and crannies that pique your interests along this automobile sojourn. We spent about 8 hours on the trip and were back in Cape Town for dinner. Having gone in May we had about 10 hours of daylight. To estimate the length of daylight during your trip use: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/south-africa/cape-town
We suggest you go in a clockwise route such that you end the trip going through picturesque spots as the sun begins to go down: Chapman's Peak, Hout Bay, and Camp's Bay. Below is a map of what we did. We will go step-by-step below.
STOP 1 - St. James Beach - Instagram Dreams
For the first stop after leaving the confines of Cape Town, you will head south to False Bay to stop at St. James Beach. Here, you will make your Instagram dreams come true by seeing the famous colorful beach huts (changing rooms) along St. James Beach. In front of you will be gorgeous views of the beach towns dotting the horizon and behind you will be some mansions in the hills above. We primarily used this stop as a fun photo opportunity. We did not see too many tour groups here. We then headed south straight to Boulder's Beach to see some penguins! If you have more time, you may consider stops between St. James Beach and Boulder's Beach such a s Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, or Simon's Town.
Time Spent here: 30 minutes
STOP 2 - Boulder's Beach - African Penguins
For our second stop, we headed down to Boulder's Beach to see the endangered African penguins. The only penguin species endemic to Africa, the natural range of the African Penguin extends across the southwestern part of the continent including Namibia and South Africa. Once estimated to have a population of over 4 million in the early 1800s, unfortunately the latest estimate is only at 55,000. One of the bright spots has been the success of conservation efforts in Boulder's Beach. Here along a protected beach inlet with gorgeous large boulders, you will see numerous African penguins who seem to bask in the attention from the throngs of tourist admirers. Given the popularity of the stop, there are a lot of tour groups here so be patient to get some fun photos. Just outside the beach there are several small cafes to grab a quick sandwich or a cup of joe.
Time Spent here: 60-90 minutes