False Bay – Simonstown in the Fairest Cape
Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, first referred to the bay as "the gulf between the mountains". The name "False Bay" was applied early on (at least three hundred years ago) by sailors who confused the bay with Table Bay to the north. The confusion arose because sailors returning from the east (The Dutch East Indies) initially confused Cape Point and Cape Hangklip, which are somewhat similar in form. Hangklip was known to the early Portuguese seafarers as Cabo Falso, or False Cape, and so the name of the bay was derived.
Simonstown is located on the shores of False Bay, on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula. For more than two centuries it has been an important naval base and harbour (first for the Royal Navy and now the South African Navy). The town is named after Simon van der Stel, an early governor of the Cape Colony.
Great White Sharks
Simonstown is also home to our partner “Apex Shark Expeditions”, owned and run by the well-known couple Chris and Monique Fallows. They are a really passionate and eco-friendly bunch, and focus on smaller groups to ensure a more intimate and educational Great White Shark experience. It’s their passion and expertise that makes each expedition a personal and highly rewarding one. Their approach to the Great White shark expeditions showcases both the sharks and the environment in which they live, offering guests a deeper understanding of these magnificent animals. The season for the Great White Shark in False Bay is from February to September. Outside of these months, we suggest taking up one of our Gansbaai tours.
The shark sighting area is around Seal Island, a small outcrop of rocks and home to hundreds of Cape Fur Seals. The boat trip from Simonstown harbour to the island is an easy 25 minute ride. The early morning trips are definitely the better ones to go for, as this time of the day is when the sharks are more keen to “breach” the surface, sometimes meters into the air, as they attack the seals from below. After some amazing acrobatics, a bit of “teaser bait” is thrown into the water, the cage is lowered and it becomes your turn to get up close to one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring animals on earth – the faultless and perfectly designed Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) – WOW!
Of course we can also assist you with some excellent scuba diving – Kelp Forests, 7 Gill Cow Sharks, wrecks, diving with the seals and the amazing “Big Blue” diving experience with Mako and Blue Sharks.
The town of Simonstown is historical, clean, quaint, small and easy to walk around. With many options, we really prefer to stay in the lovely Quayside Hotel, which is perfectly positioned on the water’s edge of Simonstown yacht basin, with breath-taking views over False Bay and the majestic Simon’s Kloof Mountains. This nautically-styled, 4-star Simonstown hotel has a unique and unparalleled location, offering superb views of the yachts and boats in the harbour, with which no other hotel in the area can compete. There are 3 room categories all en-suite(Mountain and Sea Facing, and Sea Facing with a balcony), and all provide air-conditioning, tea/coffee station, satellite TV and mini bar fridge. Breakfast is served in the “Breakfast” restaurant, whilst other meals can be enjoyed in the “Upper Deck” restaurant, overlooking the yacht basin. Enjoy a cold beer or a magical glass of wine and soak in the sunset, or explore the town and its many culinary offerings and homely pubs.
We can also accommodate you in and around the centre of Cape Town, giving you a choice of a homely guesthouse or a 5 Star Waterfront hotel, and then arrange your transfers to and from the Simonstown Harbour. Perhaps spend an extra day or 3 in our fairest Cape, and allow us to send you into the nearby Winelands, home to arguably the best wines in the world.