where penguins play

A Cape Town family took a trip “down the line” in search of warmer sea, less wind and exquisite lodgings.
By Lisa McNamara

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Cape Town is a beautiful place to live, but escaping the city for a weekend brings with it a sense of freedom and relaxation. We recently took a trip “down the line”, our destination: Simon’s Town and specifically Boulders Beach. It’s a part of the world where time seems to stand still and the worries of the city are washed away by the warmer waters of False Bay. Sea you can actually swim in.
 
My grandparents hail from Fish Hoek and for many years my aunt owned a house in Simon’s Town, so it’s a place that holds wonderful holiday memories for me. Now, travelling “down the line” is nostalgic, it calms me and makes me smile.
 
Apart from the lovely old buildings and ancient cobbled stones, Simon’s Town is home to a unique and endangered land-based colony of African Penguins. The Boulders Penguin Colony is one of only a few in the world, and the site is popular with local and international tourists. Boulders Beach is one of my children’s favourite destinations, warmer, calm sea, and a beach protected from the wind. We’ve spent many happy hours on that beach, making sandcastles, swimming and being entertained by the antics of the playful penguins. On more energetic days, we have strolled down the boardwalks (there are three), stopping now and then for my youngest to take a pic, the area being spectacular for budding photographers.
Boulders Visitor Centre: +27(0) 21 786 2329. www.sanparks.org
 
Feeling peckish?
Where better than at the water’s edge to have breakfast, lunch or dinner? Bertha’s Restaurant in the Quayside Centre has a large outdoor dining space, including a children’s play area, with views across Simon’s Town harbour.
www.berthas.co.za
 
Simon’s Town scratch patch
Did you know that almost half of the world’s gemstones are found in this part of the world? It certainly is one of the most popular places (especially with small children) to scratch, discover and take home a collection of bright and shiny gemstones. Open: Mon to Fri: 8:30 am to 4:45 pm; Sat, Sun and holidays: 9am to 5:30pm
www.scratchpatch.co.za
 
Just Nuisance
The life and story of Just Nuisance, the Great Dane, has become so much a part of Simon’s Town and the statue on Jubilee Square is a must-see. He was the only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. He died in 1944 and was buried with full military honours. The Simon’s Town Museum has a collection all Just Nuisance’s official papers, his collar and many photographs. A special display is mounted in the museum and a slide show is shown daily to children and tourists from all around the world.
www.simonstown.com/museum warrior
 
Toy museum
This museum showcases a unique collection of toy cars and trains, dolls and lead soldiers. Great for children of all ages, parents and grandparents. The toy museum also has a sales section for collectors. Contact: +27 (0) 21 786 1395 to confirm hours.
www.simonstown.org/museums
 
Keeping the best for last
Our ultimate destination was the new Tintswalo at Boulders Boutique Villa offering luxurious seaside accommodation with unobstructed views over Boulders Beach.
 
We opted for the bed and breakfast option, as we were only there for a night. The rooms can be described as “super swish” and the breakfast, mouthwateringly moreish. Walking into the villa felt like going home, except with better furniture, food and a team of highly-trained staff to see to your every need. Yes, this did feel like a dream come true.
 
The venue can be booked exclusively as a private villa for fun family getaways or special celebrations. A private chef is available on request. With so much to do in the area, it makes a wonderful spot for families wanting to holiday together for a weekend, a week or longer. Our time at the villa can only be described by one word, bliss! We’ll be back …
www.tintswalo.com/boulders/villa

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