Lots of people ask us why we chose to live in Simon’s Town given that we’re under 60 years old. Amusingly nicknamed ‘God’s Waiting Room’, many Capetonians seem baffled that we chose to set up shop in this sleepy seaside town. But there are many more reasons to live in Simon’s Town than to watch the boats go by. For us, this is the heart of Cape Town; even if it is a 50-minute drive to the city centre.
Other than “but it’s so pretty”, here are my top 10 reasons for why we chose to settle down here:
1. The waterfall walk. I love the secluded nature of this hike and it really is a hidden gem on this side of the moon. After you walk past some beautiful houses, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump along a winding path until you reach a little waterfall where you can while away the time with the dassies. One of my dogs is mad for water and loves to splash about in the pool, while the other ventures off to explore the mountainside. The area doesn’t get much sun so it’s a cool place to hang out in summer, and in winter when the rains have thundered full throttle, you can enjoy the ‘cascades’.
2. Just Sushi. This offers by far the freshest, most generous portions of sashimi that I’ve had so far in Cape Town, and I would eat here every day if I had the money. It’s also quite nice to not be the only Asian in the village.
3. Redhill Dam hike. About an hour round-trip, this hike boasts some of the most spectacular views on this side of the peninsular. With an unobscured view of Table Mountain to one side, and False Bay framing the other, by the time you get to the dam, you’d think there’d be little left to impress. But that is not the case. Surrounded by dozens of secluded little coves, it’s not only beautiful but a great place to work on your tan away from the hoards of sun babies back on the beaches.
4. The African penguin. As a result of oil spills, pollution and shoals of fish moving south into cooler waters, the population of these little guys has plummeted. Now only 100,000 of these birds exist in southern Africa and many of these are chilling out in Boulders Beach penguin colony. Both BirdLife South Africa and SANCCOB are doing everything they can to save the endangered species from further decline, and there’s even a penguin festival every year to raise awareness and funds to protect them.
5. Best dog walking beaches. Long Beach in Simon’s Town is extremely dog friendly. In fact, dog walkers and scuba divers are just about all that you see strolling along the shores. It’s also one of the few beaches that doesn’t require leashes so one of my pooches can run around and make friends while my other dog that’s not so keen on canine companions has enough space to keep to himself and just have a good dig.
6. Monocle and Mermaid. I keep telling people that Simon’s Town is fabulous but all the cool cats turn their noses up at our quaint colonial town. Monocle and Mermaid proves all the non-believers and nay-sayers wrong. This café gives all the hipster joints in the CBD a run for their money and takes steam punk to the seaside. With great paninis and coffee, it gives me faith that there’s still life yet in our retirement village.
7. Location, location, location. It may not be near the buzz of the city centre but the location of Simon’s Town is perfect for us because we’re surrounded by most of our favourite spots in Cape Town. Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Noordhoek and Scarborough are all within easy reach and they’re places that have won my heart. With tidal pools, cafés, shops, restaurants and beaches aplenty, there’s enough to keep me entertained all weekend.
8. Fringe Vintage Salon. I have searched high and low for a good hairdresser and have had little luck so I tend to put off cutting my hair until I resemble a cleaning appliance. No one seems to be able to get a grip on my unruly locks or understand that I will never do much to tame them. I have walked out of a place in Sea Point looking like I belong in an ’80s porn film, and I once was silly enough to go to a salon in China that boasted ‘Tony & Gay” products on its shelves. I should have known better. But Fringe in Simon’s Town is wonderful. It’s well priced, the owner gives me a cut I love, and the setting is unrivalled. With antique furniture, vintage photographs on the walls, and black and white movies playing while you have your hair washed, everything serves to offer a nostalgic escape into yesteryear.
9. Whale and dolphin watching. Even after two years of living here, when I spot one of the many whales or dolphins that pay our little harbour a visit, I can’t help but get excited. The beauty of them breaching or playing in the waters is something that I’m sure I’ll never quite get used to or tired of. And it’s at times like those that I feel a long way from where I grew up in suburban England.
10. A view to die for. But most of all, this view is why we live in Simon’s Town. So that we can wake up every morning to be reminded that there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy. A braai on a sunny day when you can see all the contours of the mountains on the other side of False Bay is pretty much everything we need in life.
To find out more about Simon’s Town, read: Hermanus & the not so False Bay