Even in peak season Kommetjie remains an unspoilt destination.
Kommetjie means “little bowl” and is named after the circular, bowl-like sea basin, “Die Kom” which forms the heart of this rustic, fishing village. Boats are launched in the early mornings next to “Die Kom” throughout the year and with more frequency during crayfish season. The abundant bird life, which feeds on local seaweed, draws birdwatchers from all over the world.
Slangkop Point with its surrounding rocky shelves poses a shipping hazard, but also creates the dynamics of one of South Africa’s top surf spots. The waves created by this point and its many reefs are famous amongst surfers from around the world. As a result, Kommetjie has a rich surf culture. There are 11 unsurpassed surf spots between Chapman’s Peak and Soetwater.
Slangkop translated from Afrikaans means “snake’s head” and there is much local speculation regarding the origins of the name. Some say it derives from the shape of the rocky outcrop on the mountain above the lighthouse. A hike up Slangkop hill provides a panoramic view over Chapman’s Peak and Hout Bay.
The beautiful Noordhoek and Long beaches connect with a coastal walk around “Die Kom” to the lighthouse – an excellent place for watching the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
The village began as a seaside holiday resort but today houses mostly permanent residents who commute to the city to work.
Commissioned in 1919, Slangkop is the only cast iron lighthouse in South Africa and is the tallest on the coast at 134 feet above sea level. The entire lighthouse was shipped out from England in segments and assembled on site. The light (about 16 million candlepower) can be seen for a distance of 33 miles to seaward. The lighthouse keeper is a mine of interesting facts and legends, amongst which is the story of the Kakapo, wrecked, due to a navigational error, in May 1900 on her maiden voyage from England. Part of the wreck is still visible.
In 1905, Clan Monroe ran aground, blown onto the rocky shelf just below where the lighthouse stands today, during one of the Cape’s notorious winter storms. The ship eventually sank from view.
There are over 130 bird species in this area. “Die Kom” is one of the best spots from which to view seabirds. In winter, among the many pelagic species are Blackbrowed, Shy and Yellownosed albatrosses, Northern and Southern giant petrels, Whitechinned petrels, Sooty shearwaters and Subantarctic skuas. The Antarctic tern can be seen in the winter months and the Arctic tern in early summer. On the sandy shores is the endemic African black oystercatcher. Inland you will find interesting species such as Ground woodpecker, Cape sugarbird, Orangebreasted sunbird and the occasional Black eagle and Peregrine falcon. Two troops of baboons frequent the area, one of which often sleeps on the cliffs of Slangkop Mountain. Other mammals living in the area include porcupine, its distant relative the mole rat, tortoise, the Cape grey mongoose, the Cape clawless otter and the nocturnal Large-spotted and Small-spotted genets. Sometimes a shy grysbok can be seen.
As part of the Cape Floral Kingdom (the smallest, and for its size, the richest in the world) this region has countless species to delight the flower lover. Amongst these, in springtime are the dainty blue Gladiolus carinatus and carpets of Bokbaai vygies (Dorotheanthus bellidiformis) and the Cape daisy (Dimorphotheca pluvialis). In summer the Ground Protea (Leucospermum hypophyllocarpodendron) adds colour to the sandy areas, while through autumn and winter the Tortoise berry (Nylandtia spinosa), a thorny bush with mauve flowers and edible berries, provides food for tortoises.
Restaurants & Shops
There is a wide variety of restaurants available in the village, offering meals to suit every taste, ranging from delicious pizzas to scrumptious seafood, with the occasional pub lunch sandwiched in-between. The shops in the area should cover your every need, from a laundromat, a hairdresser and a beauty salon, through to deli, post office, pharmacy, library and finally a suprette, for those forgotten odds and ends.
Imhoff Farm Village at Imhoff’s Gift, less than 10 minutes’ drive, is the perfect venue for families with plenty of entertainment for all. Children just love to ride on the donkeys and feed the farmyard animals. Visit the snake park or enjoy a camel or horse ride. Don’t forget to try the Cheese Dairy’s hand-made cheeses. Read further for more information about the history of this farm.A little further afield at Heron Park you will find Compass Bakery who bake for Woolworths and have a delicious selection of cakes, muffins, biscuits and more, at factory prices, the Biltong and Nut Factory Shop and Island Fisheries.
Finally, if you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, Longbeach Mall offers over 100 exciting stores under one roof including cinemas.
The original farm stretching from Scarborough to Chapman’s Peak was known as Slangkop Farm. It was later divided up into smaller farms which grew vegetables for shipping that called at Simon’s Bay (rather than Table Bay) during the Cape’s stormy winter months. One of these portions is the historic Imhoff Farm.
The land for this farm was gifted to a local lady by Baron Von Imhoff, an official of the Batavian Government in 1743 and was known thereafter as Imhoff’s Gift. The historical homestead now houses a restaurant with spectacular views over the wetlands of the Table Mountain National Park and Long beach as well as craft shops, a snake and reptile park and horse and camel rides.
Freed slaves and those who had escaped from the Dutch settlement below Table Mountain settled in the Slangkop area. They lived off the land and farmed vegetables. Many of the people in the area today are descended from theses original settlers. They were moved from their land because of their mixed heritage to the settlement of Ocean View in the late 1960s during the apartheid era. They were joined by people who were moved from Simon’s Town. This is a warm-hearted community rich in Cape history, legends, stories and one with a surprising lack of bitterness towards the political past.
Past Slangkop Lighthouse is the Soetwater area, a naturally rich stretch of coastline which runs from the lighthouse to the crayfish factory, a landmark on the coast. The kelp beds there provide a rich habitat for crayfish, which is exported around the world. Soetwater forms part of the important coastal segment of the new Hoerikwaggo hiking trail, running from the top of Table Mountain to Cape Point.
Situated on Old Kommetjie Road, this colourful township was first developed in 1992 and is now home to over 20 0000 residents. Visits can be made to this Xhosa township with Charlotte Swartbooi, a registered guide and local resident. Charlotte’s tour offers a unique opportunity to experience this warm and lively community and meet some of its residents. Don’t miss the Ubuntu Dance Group: Marimba Band who offer vibrant performances as a celebration of traditional Xhosa, Zulu, Tswana and Sotho dances and music.
This peaceful seaside village adjoining the Good Hope Nature Reserve, and reached via a spectacular coastal drive from Kommetjie is a draw-card for kite surfers, wind surfers and surfers alike. Whales can often be spotted between June and November.
Good Hope Nature Reserve
One of the Cape’s top scenic attractions, this reserve has over 1200 species of fynbos, 250 species of birds and a variety of buck, baboons and other mammals. It offers hiking trails, nature walks and excellent angling, surfing and diving spots. At Cape Point, the most southern tip of the Cape Peninsula is the Two Oceans Restaurant, a curio shop and a funicular to take you to the lighthouse overlooking False Bay.
An historic town, famous for its long connection with the British navy and now home to the South African navy, boasts a number of interesting museums, restaurants and our country’s 3rd oldest lighthouse and the only one built on rock. Boat trips are available for harbour tours, whale-watching and trips to Seal Island and Cape Point.
Simon’s Town Golf Club has a 9-hole golf course with fabulous sea and mountain views. Nearby are Mineral World, a popular gemstone factory with a scratch patch and an unusual jewellery and gift shop, as well as the unique and fascinating African penguin colony at Boulders beach.
This charming rural area at the southern end of world-famous Chapman’s Peak Drive, about 10 minutes’ drive away offers horse rides, beach walks, a thriving art culture, restaurants and a craft centre at the Noordhoek Farm Village.
At the other end of Chapman’s Peak Drive is scenically beautiful Hout Bay. Tourist attractions include the World of Birds (with Monkey Jungle), a vibrant harbour life with numerous restaurants and pubs and a variety of launches that offer trips to Duiker Island (seals) and the V&A Waterfront. Nearby at Llandudno is Sandy Bay, a secluded nudist beach. Lions Craft Market is held every Sunday on the common.
Fish Hoek & Clovelly
Fish Hoek has one of the safest and most popular beaches. Jager Walk, along the rocky coastline, is a good viewing point for Southern Right and Humpback whales. Nearby Clovelly Country Club has an 18-hole course in a picturesque setting, and on the hillside is Peers Cave, a stone age site where the remains of a 12000 year old man was discovered.
Kalk Bay & St James
Kalk Bay is a trendy, vibrant seaside village with art and curio shops and a number of restaurants and a picturesque fishing harbour. St James, with its colourful Victorian bathing boxes, is popular for its safe bathing beach and tidal pool.
Muizenberg has 36km of beautiful white beaches for surfing and bathing. Historic sites are Rhodes’ Cottage, Het Posthuys and the site of the 1795 Battle of Muizenberg.
The main wine-growing areas are concentrated around Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl but with more than 800 wine-estates in the Western Cape one needs to plan one’s route carefully. Close at hand is the Constantia Valley which boasts some of the oldest estates and many award-winning wines. An interesting wine to look out for is Pinotage, a SA cultivar which is a fusion of pinot noir and hermitage vines, first cultivated in the 1920’s.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
This world-famous garden was established in 1913 to conserve and promote the indigenous flora of South Africa. About an half-hour drive away, it is situated amid magnificent scenery on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, covers 528 hectares and includes restaurants, a cultivated garden and a nature reserve with mountain walks. Outdoor summer concerts are held on Sunday evenings from December to March.
Approximately 45 minutes’ drive away is Cape Town, also known as the Mother City, the oldest European settlement in SA. Popular tourist attractions include the Table Mountain Cableway, the V&A Waterfront with its trendy shops, restaurants and aquarium, trips to Robben Island, and historic walking tours.