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Top 5 things to do in Simon’s Town – Summertide

31 January 2024
Spend the day in Summertide’s seaside town.
coastal town in bay

The Field siblings and their father Martin are given a lot of grief for being “tourists” in Simon’s Town, but there’s a good reason the seaside town is so popular, attracting people from all over the world. Tucked into False Bay in the Western Cape, Simon’s Town is a coastal town that is home to the South African Navy’s largest base and much more besides.

Simon’s Town is a popular stopover en route to Cape Point, but there is plenty of reason to do more than just pop in. Next time you’re in the Cape, or even if you live close by, head to Simon’s Town for a day scented with salty sea air and jam-packed with activities. Start the day with a magnificent scenic drive from Cape Town via Chapman’s Peak or Boyes Drive, and then keep busy with any, or all, of these activities.

Visit the SA Naval Museum ⚓

As home to the country’s largest naval base, Simon’s Town is the perfect place for the SA Naval Museum to make its home. Here you will be able to trace the history of the South African Navy, including its role in the world wars. It’s by no means the only museum in town. For toy aficionadas, there’s the Warrior Toy Museum on King George’s Way, which houses vintage dolls, toy cars, and model trains. On the same road is the Heritage Museum, taking you on a journey of the Muslim culture that was prevalent in the area for centuries, until the forcible removals in the mid-20th century.

Go shopping 🛍

From keyrings and kitchen magnets to postcards, T-shirts, and stuffed animals, you’ll find plenty of shops stocking the kind of paraphernalia you’re likely to find just about everywhere in Cape Town and other popular tourist destinations surrounding the city. But with so many stores lining the street heading to the harbour, a good bout of browsing is sure to unearth many a treasure, particularly in the various vintage and antique shops. For even more browsing, stroll through the stalls in Jubilee Square next to the harbour. The square is also where you will find the statue of Just Nuisance.

Pet Just Nuisance 🐕

One of the Navy’s most famous seamen was Able Seaman Just Nuisance … but he wasn’t a man at all. Just Nuisance was a dog – a Great Dane, to be exact – who was enlisted into the Royal Navy. He was dubbed Just Nuisance, because that’s exactly what he was. From lazing around on deck to sneaking onto trains, he was a hot-blooded sailor to the core. But he was also a friend, a comfort, a laugh, and a good time, joining sailors on runs, breaking up fights, escorting drunk sailors home, and boosting morale during the war. Unfortunately, as is common with big dogs, he had to be put down at the age of seven. He was buried with full military honours at Klaver Camp atop Red Hill. Pop into just about any shop and you’re likely to find the book written about him by Terence Sisson. The SA Naval Museum also covers this canine’s history.

Scratch around the Scratch Patch 💎

If you love gemstones, the scratch patch is a must. You can spend hours digging around for gems for your collection, and it’s also a great way to keep kids entertained. The patch is a real institution in Simon’s Town: having been around for decades, it remains a fun way to chill out – especially if the weather takes a turn for the worst.

Watch penguins at Boulders Beach 🐧

One of the town’s biggest drawcards is its penguins – so it’s hardly surprising that we’ve already spotted them in Summertide. Boulders Beach, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, is their home and a popular tourist spot. Entry fees and donations go a long way in helping protect and save these endangered birds. So, please! Definitely visit the penguins, but whether you’re local, tourist, or something in between, don’t be one of those obnoxious people who pesters the penguins just so you can get the perfect penguin selfie. Respect the rules and enjoy watching them splash and waddle about the beach from a safe distance. If you choose to be an irritating Homo sapien, there’s a good chance they’ll nip you!

Thanks to Summertide, your next or first visit to Simon’s Town will feel like coming home as you recognise the spaces and places you see in the show. And with this handy guide, you’re sure to be able to make the most of the town.

Watch Summertide every Sunday at 18:00 on M-Net channel 101. If you missed the first episode, catch up on DStv Stream here. Follow the conversation on Facebook, X, Instagram, and TikTok using #SummertideSA.

Images: Getty and Unsplash.