South African Hotels

Simons Town Tourism Information

Quick Facts: Simons Town

  • Simon's Town is rich in the historical significance of South Africa
  • The settlement of Simons Town in the Cape Peninsula was founded in 1743 as a winter anchorage by the first governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel
  • Simon's Town was named after Simon van der Stel
  • After the British had taken over the Cape in 1806, the town became a base of the Royal Navy
  • In 1957, Simon's Town became the base of the South African Navy
  • Victorian and Cape Dutch houses
  • Lovely little seaside town in South Africa's Western Province
  • Many restaurants and coffee shops
  • Quayside Waterfront
  • Jackass Penguins at Boulders Beach are the only species of penguin which colonise on the African continent
  • People and penguins splash together in the clear and shallow waters at Boulders Beach

Distance to Airport: 47 km

Distance to City: 40 km

Introducing Simons Town

Simon's Town is rich in the historical significance of South Africa. The settlement of Simons Town in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa, was founded in 1743 as a winter anchorage by the first governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel and named after him. After the British had taken over the Cape in 1806, the town became a base of the Royal Navy. In 1957 it became a South African navy base.  Simon's Town, with its Victorian and Cape Dutch houses, is a lovely little seaside town in South Africa's Western Province.

The restaurants and coffee shops in the Main Road and also in the new Quayside Waterfront provide beautiful views across the harbour.  Jackass Penguins, which can be found in Simons Town on Boulders Beach, are the only species of penguin which colonise on the African continent. For some years now, under the administration of Cape Nature Conservation these birds are quite friendly with humans, but they don't want to be touched. On warm summer days, people and penguins splash together in the clear and shallow waters of the bay, surrounded by big round boulders.

The town officially called Simon's Town, but often referred to as Simonstown, was originally named Simon's Vlek after Simon van der Stel. The Dutch governor of the Cape Colony between 1677 and 1699, who surveyed the bay east of Cape Town in 1687 and earmarked it as a safe winter harbour during the months of May to September for which it was finally proclaimed in 1741.  Progress may have come slowly to Simon's Town, but it has certainly left its mark.

The town grew when it became a Royal Naval Base and the home of the South Atlantic Squadron under the second British occupation of the Cape in 1806, thanks in large part to the construction of a massive man-made sandstone breakwater.

One of the tasks of this squadron was the care of a certain Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile at St. Helena Island some 1200 miles away in the South Atlantic Ocean.  Admiral Lord Nelson himself is also said to have come ashore from his ship to be nursed through an illness in the late 1770s, on the first of his two visits, long before the British occupation. Over 300 ships were repaired at Simon's Town during the Second World War, and the completion of the new Simon's Town Harbour and the Selborne dry dock took place by 1910. 

Situated on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula on the shores of False Bay, Simon's Town remains an important naval base to this day, and the town which rises steeply above the harbour up the mountainsides is rich in both architectural and natural beauty, as well as Cape history and strange legends and tales.

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