Moving about during the various Covid-19 lockdowns of last year wasn’t something done very much (compounded further by the fact that Chantelle and I naturally work from home anyway). However, in a bid to escape the four walls of our lovely little Gordon’s Bay prison, sorry I meant home, we one day jumped into the car and headed out towards Simon’s Town, hugging the coast all the way in our attempt to reach the other side of False Bay.
Simon’s Town, as are most of the little towns dotted around the mountain on the Cape Point side of False Bay, is a very picturesque little town, laid out on a particular narrow strip of land which is bounded by the sea and mountain to either side. Naval activities aside, the big attraction in Simon’s Town is of course its Boulders African Penguin colony, situated on the titular beach in what is considered part of the Table Mountain National Park – thus managed by SANParks as opposed to Cape Nature who run the Betty’s Bay penguin colony with which we are far more familiar.
Stretched over three little beaches, Seaforth, Boulders, and Foxy, the penguin colony (the species of which are currently considered endangered) settled there in 1982, where they have since flourished thanks to both their protected status and the prohibition of commercial pelagic trawling in False Bay which consequently increased the natural supply of pilchards and anchovy – important food sources in the penguin diet.
Boulders beach (so named due to the abundance of granite boulders on and around it) allows you to swim among the penguins, while the excellent boardwalk built around Foxy beach lets you stroll above and between the birds to get a good look at all that sweet penguino activity. Of course, these little tuxedo wearing, very smelly birds are a natural tourist attraction and as such bring in a large amount of visitors both local and international, making Boulders in general quite a good money spinner for the SANParks machine.
That said, this was the time of the Covid-19 pandemic and so the tourists were gone, the beaches shut down, and access to the SANParks facility switched off. Still, luckily for us, the public pathways and boardwalks around the beaches were still open, and so we leisurely strolled upon them, happily taking in the penguins who were quite nonplussed about these strange bemasked people staring through the fences at them and their fluffy chicks!
At the end of our explorations, Chantelle and Emily waddled back to the car (seriously, such a surreal sight to see the ever popular Seaforth/Boulders parking lot empty), while Jessica and I strolled over to have a closer look at the adjacent Seaforth Beach, a narrow 600m long stretch of sandy shoreline surrounded by restaurants, curio shops and sporting a rather nice, shaded picnic lawn – as well as a LOT of pigeons!
As with so much of that side of False Bay, the Simon’s Town area really is as pretty as a picture, and is well worth heading out to for a stroll, a swim or for some penguin watching if you get the chance, and while it does tend to get a little crowded over peak tourist and holiday seasons, if you can catch it in a quiet moment then it really can be a bit magical if it wants to. As for our little trip to this side of the world? Next up, a drive over Chapman’s Peak!