False Bay

Long before GPS was invented, the sailors of old returning from long sea voyages to the east confused this picturesque bay with the more famous Table Bay a bit further along the coast, thus giving False Bay its name.

There is a small granite island in the bay (not discernible in the image above) called Seal Island), which is one of the main breeding sites for the Cape Fur seal and attracts the Great white sharks.

False Bay is an immense C-shaped curve in the coastline to the southeast of Table Mountain. At its widest point it is a staggering 30km across the bay! It comes as no surprise then that the bay is littered with numerous long sandy beaches, some of which have managed to escape any form of urban development.

An extreme aerial shot of False Bay taken from the International Space Station

Tucked in the western corner of False Bay lies the quaint fishing village of Kalk Bay. Its harbor is a popular destination not only due to some excellent seafood restaurants but also for the local fishermen who sell their catch of the day straight off the boat. There are even a few resident Cape fur seals that have formed a unique bond with the fishermen, often posing together for photographs. On Kalk Bay’s main road is a fabulous assortment of art galleries, vintage bookshops, antique dealers and superb restaurants.

St. James beach is close to Kalk Bay and is a postcard perfect stop en-route to Kalk Bay.

A few minutes up the road from Kalk Bay is the epicentre of Cape Town’s surf scene, Muizenberg. It is known for being a great training ground for anyone learning to surf and thus draws adventurous souls of all ages. Naturally, a laid-back surf culture exists in town and you’ll get a feel for the vibe on Surfer’s Corner, a seafront strip lined with restaurants, pubs and surf shops.

From Muizenberg, the beach runs uninterrupted for 40km along the inner curve of Table Bay, all the way to the Helderberg region which includes the towns of Somerset West, Strand and Gordon’s Bay. Somerset West, situated inland, is often seen as an off the beaten track destination with several hidden-gem wine farms. While Strand is the commercial hub of the area, Gordon’s Bay offers some small, yet scenic family-friendly beaches.


• Muizenberg is regarded as one of South Africa’s top surfing spots since it has a very consistent swell, especially in the winter months. Conditions cater to all skill levels and several surf schools offer lessons for young and old.

• Clarens Drive on the R44 road between Gordons Bay and Rooi-Els is a stunning coastal drive. The narrow 21km-long pass snakes along the coastline between the Atlantic Ocean and the towering Hottentots Holland mountains, offering spectacular views along the way.

• Humpback, Bryde’s and Southern Right whales can be seen in False Bay during the late winter months when they migrate north to warmer climates.

• A visit to the Kalk Bay harbor is a must. It’s a tradition to eat fish and chips here and watch the resident seals interact with the fishermen.

• The Cheetah Outreach, a conservation initiative in Somerset West, offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with the fastest land animals on the planet.

Practical advice

• By car, the western side of False Bay is about 50 minutes by car from Cape Town city center while the far eastern end (Rooi-Els) is 1h30 by car.

• Public transport in False Bay is limited, therefore it is recommended to rent a vehicle if you intend to spend much time in the area.

Popular Cape Town Safaris

These popular itineraries can be customised to match your budget and travel dates

 | Road Trip through Cape Town’s Finest (10 Days)

Road Trip through Cape Town's Finest (10 Days)

Explore Cape Town and its surrounding highlights in luxury on a looped route that both starts and ends in South Africa’s Mother City....

 | Two weeks in South Africa - a luxury rail safari

Two weeks in South Africa - a luxury rail safari

Experience the best that South Africa has to offer: it's white-sand beaches, lush green wine-lands and find the Big Five wildlife in the Kruger National Park. ...

 | South African Holiday Adventure (10 days)

South African Holiday Adventure (10 days)

Explore the southern-most city on the African continent, before jetting off to spot the Big Five...

Exterior view of Ngala Tented Camp | Delightful Cape Town and Kruger Luxury Safari (12 days)

Delightful Cape Town and Kruger Luxury Safari (12 days)

Combine Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands with a safari in the Kruger National Park for a relaxing and exhilarating South African safari...

 | South African Bush and Beach Journey (10 days)

South African Bush and Beach Journey (10 days)

Explore the magic of Cape Town followed by the Scenic Garden Route and finally the Big Five members at the Kruger National Park...

 | Cape Town and Kruger Family Safari (8 days)

Cape Town and Kruger Family Safari (8 days)

Combine the best that Cape Town and the Kruger National Park have to offer – beach and bush – for the ideal family holiday...

 | Journey through the Highlights of Southern Africa (13 days)

Journey through the Highlights of Southern Africa (13 days)

Exploring these areas of the Southern African continent should on top of your bucket list...

 | Kruger, Cape Town and Mauritius Bush & Beach Safari (15 days)

Kruger, Cape Town and Mauritius Bush & Beach Safari (15 days)

Spend your days discovering the fine beaches of Cape Town, enjoying the remarkably untamed wilderness of the Kruger National Park and swimming the pristine beaches of Mauritius....

 | City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

City and Safari in Southern Africa (14 days)

Majestic wildlife and the riches of Africa. ...

 | South Africa’s Garden Route Odyssey (14 days)

South Africa's Garden Route Odyssey (14 days)

Discover one of South Africa’s best kept secrets - the Garden Route...

You might also be interested in

Have some ideas?
Contact us and get a customised no-obligation itinerary

+27 (0)21 422 3498
    Mon - Fri: 8AM - 9PM GMT+2