South African Hotels

Kalk Bay Tourism Information

Quick Facts: Kalk Bay

  • Historic harbour village
  • In close proximity to Simon's Town and Muizenberg
  • Antique and art shops line the streets of Kalk Bay
  • Excellent restaurants
  • Kalk Bay is home to the popular surf location named "Kalk Bay Reef"
  • Makes for a nice stop en route to the Cape Point Nature Reserve
  • Many caves formed in sandstone can be found here.

Distance to Airport: 39 km

Distance to City: 30 km

Introducing Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay is a fishing village on the coast of False Bay, South Africa.  It lies in a beautiful setting, wedged between the ocean and sharply rising mountainous heights which are buttressed by crags of grey sandstone.

A literal translation from the Dutch/Afrikaans name "Kalkbaai" is "Lime Bay". The railway from the city centre of Cape Town to Simon's Town passes through Kalk Bay and in some places the railway line is only a few metres from the water's edge making it a unique experience.

Many famous caves are located in the mountains above the village of Kalk Bay. They are of importance to spaeleologists because they have formed in sandstone. Large cave systems are not often found in this type of chemically unreactive rock.Kalk Bay is home to the popular surf location named "Kalk Bay Reef". This is renowned for heavy barrels and the associated shallow reef. It is best surfed on a big south-easterly swell or a north west wind. In smaller swells low tide makes for better barrels.

Kalk Bay's modern day history started when the Dutch East India Company proclaimed Simon's Bay a winter anchorage for their ships from May 15th to August 15th each year from 1742.  The difficulty of getting supplies to these ships in Simon's Bay and the  building of the town of Simon's Town was severely hampered by the inadequacy of a proper road especially at Clovelly  where the mountain reached the sea and the quicksands of Fish Hoek and Glencairn halted oxen transport.

Kalk Bay became a mini-port for the Dutch and all requirements as well as anchors, masts, sails, and others were sent by ox-wagon to Kalk Bay and thereafter loaded onto barges which took the goods over to the ships in the bay as well as construction materials needed for the building of Simon's Town.

Returning ox-wagons took lime (kalk) and fish, the staple diet of slaves, back to Cape Town.  This mini-port boom where warehouses were built to store the goods lasted from 1742–1795 whereafter the British took over the Cape and the Royal Engineers built a proper 'hard' road to Simon's Town.

By 1820 Kalk Bay became active in the whaling industry.  Especially as whaling was prohibited in Simon's Town due to the compaints by residents and the garrison that the repugnant smell of both burning blubber and rotting whale carcasses was unhygienic and unacceptable.  Whaling was the third biggest income earner for the Cape Colony after agriculture and wine making, and Kalk Bay housed three of the main whaling stations at the Cape.  The whaling boom was, however, short-lived as killing the female Southern Right Whale who had come to calve in the warm waters of the False Bay, soon resulted in almost total extinction of the whale popoulation around these shores.

Today the village of Kalk Bay in South Africa has become the centre of antique, art and bric-a-brac shops with many outstanding restaurants who, with excellent food, maintain the unique and special character of this historic harbour village.