Captivating Kalk Bay – Cape Town’s Bohemian Coastal Village


Cape Town‘s False Bay suburbs have a relaxed lifestyle where people walk barefoot in the street in their baggies and enjoy the coastal lifestyle. At the south end of the Cape Town peninsula one can find an interesting and eclectic shopping destination and dining destination which is the fishing village of Kalk Bay. This popular sea side village is always bustling with visitors, both local and from up country.

KalkBay is known for its bohemian character, and it has something interesting to offer the visitor on each occasion, which is why it is so popular with the people of Cape Town. The narrow main road is lined with quaint Victorian shop fronts housing many antique shops, art galleries, and collectable bric-a brac, and has a number of good restaurants. It is not only the main road that is interesting; up almost every one of the little cobbled lanes that lead from the main road up toward the mountainside, one will find quaint shops, boutiques coffee houses and restaurants Who can resist browsing for an hour or two amongst the collectibles in “The Trading Post ” which is located in the old Post Office building next to the railway station. On the third Sunday of the month, you will find the Fresh Etc market located in the old 1906 community hall, making it the market with the best views in Cape Town, where happy customers gather on the balcony to watch the whales at play in the bay.

There are many interesting restaurants along the main road; up the narrow alleys and in the harbour. The most well-known is the “Brass Bell” situated between the railway platform and the sea; where you can enjoy good fish and seafood with the waves splashing alongside, and marvel at the lovely views across to Simonstown. The harbour house and Polana restaurant in the harbour itself are worthy of the excellent reviews that are frequently given. Another old favourite in Kalk Bay is the Olympia cafe and deli where locals will wait forever to get a seat and a table, and enjoy interesting and outstanding meals, making use of seasonal produce, while watching the goings on in the harbour.

The truly Bohemian restaurant “Cape to Cairo” is situated on the beach. Be prepared for a total sensory overload- from the time that you walk up the twisted boardwalk towards a large beach shack, where you enter the bar which serves great mojitos or the dining areas, crammed with religious icons, myriad chandeliers, bric-a brac, and a variety of cottage and antique furniture and where everything in the restaurant is available for purchase. No mater if you choose to sit inside or on the narrow outside dining terrace you will be sure to have a great view of the activities in the fishing harbour.

The fishing harbour is popular with artists and photographers and those who just enjoy watching the boats and the interesting fisher folk. This picturesque fishing harbour and the interesting and amusing fishermen and other local characters gives so much colour to the village. Here is home to a collection of mostly wooden fishing boats, many of which are painted in bright colours and have evocative names. In the harbour is a small fish market where one can purchase fresh fish off the boat. Kalky’s is an informal fish and chip sit down restaurant in the harbour which is reputed to offer the best fish and chips in the Western Cape and a long line of people queuing at mealtimes attests to its popularity.

The history of Kalk Bay begins with the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century when they had to use the little harbour as a staging point from which to carry provisions by barge to Simonstown which was a winter anchorage for their ships to escape the storms experienced at Cape Town. The name “Kalk” bay comes from the Dutch for lime. The local community were encouraged to start lime kilns here to supply building needs of the Dutch in Cape Town. For a short term it was the centre of the whaling industry which was a major income earner for the Cape Colony, but which ended due to almost total extinction of the Southern Right whale off the shores of False Bay.The fishing community of Kalk Bay comprises mostly mixed-race people known as “Cape Coloureds” who have a wonderful sense of humour. Their ancestors include people from the Philippines as well as many freed slaves of the Dutch settlers, originating from Batavia, Java and Malaysia who brought their fishing skills to the community. Kalk Bay has become one of the trendiest villages on the False Bay coast with property prices reaching the levels of the more influential Cape Town suburbs.

Visitors enjoying a holiday in Cape Town should not think that the attractions of the big city and its environs are all Cape Town has to offer, but should take time to see and share the relaxed lifestyle of the False Bay coast.

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