Hout Bay is a 25 minute drive out of central Cape Town, South Africa, in the valley on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula. One of the great tourist attractions in Hout Bay is the 1 hour boat trip out into the bay to watch the thousands of seals brawling, sprawling and flopping across the tiny land mass that is Seal Island.
Seal Island is home to around 64,000 Cape Fur Seals and it is quite a sight watching the constantly shifting display of brown bodies acting out their pantomimes on the rocks and in the water to the numerous tourists who float just a few metres away. Many of the boats have glass-bottomed areas in the hull and under the water is where the seals really turn from ugly frumpy ducklings into graceful, elegant swans. Unfortunately, many of these glass bottoms are almost too murky to see out of, but from above the water you can see clearly for a few metres into the depths of the kelp forests.
It is not hard to see why this is such an attraction for many. There are several boats that leave Hout Bay Harbour at staggered times and will take you for a ride around the bay to gaze upon Chapman’s Peak and the stunning scenery before heading to Seal Island, and the hour will only cost you R70-80 (about £4-5).
While you are waiting for your boat to leave or once you have arrived back on dry land, why not browse the markets that line the docking bays, selling local handmade trinkets and usually playing some live music too. You can also grab some seriously fresh calamari and chips from the nearby restaurants which is cheap and delicious if you stick to the less fancy places.
Hout Bay makes for a great day out of the bustling city and, if you have the time and access to a car, I would definitely recommend taking a drive over Chapman’s Peak either on your way to or from Hout Bay as there are few roads quite as spectacular as this.