Discover Simons Town A Walking Tour
Today we are exploring the coast line from were the smelly old Marine Oil Refinery was in Glencairn. The old oil factory is long gone and the brand-new Harbour Bay Mall is in its place. That’s where we parked.
The walk takes you to Simons Town station following the train tracks. The single track dates back to 1890 but has sadly been closed since around 2015 due to sand blowing across the tracks. The trains now run between Fish Hoek and Cape Town. The train services now fall under Metro Fail, a government parastatal.
Crossing the road onto the train tracks, you will see a small beach with a few old trek boats. The trek fisherman (trek – Afrikaans for pull) used to be based at the beach but today you rarely see them fishing here due to the decline of fish in False Bay and increased government legislation. This traditional method of fishing is centuries old but very few fishing crews remain today. The boats remain on the beach.
There are numerous anglers that still use this area to fish and I saw one hook a large bronze whaler shark. The shark broke the line and escaped as it was being landed on the shore.
The ship wreck of the Clan Stewart, an old steam ship that today looks like a submarine is just off the beach. It was washed ashore in a South easterly gale in 1914. Today it is a very popular diving spot. On the skyline you will see Roman rock lighthouse. This lighthouse is the only one in South Africa built on a single rock.
On Track To Simons Town
Walking along the old rusted train tracks you see the Lower North gun battery. The Lower North Battery was build to protect the navy based at Simons Town. The gunnery school used to fire these guns on a regular basis when I was living in Simons Town. Today very little seems to be happening at the Lower North Battery.
Following the tracks in front of the gun battery you are greeted with spectacular views of Simons Town. We also saw a number of rare Black Oyster catchers birds in the area. The walk offers views of the Eastern naval dockyard and the yachts tied up in the bay. False Bay yacht club is along-side the naval dockyard.
If you are walking on a windy day and the South Easterly wind is blowing, you will start to feel the sand blowing your way as you get closer to Simons Town. The South Easterly wind pushes the sand across the train tracks. The constant wind and sand is the reason the trains are no longer using this line. After negotiating some sand dunes that have covered the train track, we arrived at Simons Town station. There are no trains at Simons Town station and it is deserted except for the security personal.
Growing up in Simons Town I used to catch these trains to school every single day. At spring high tide, the sea would often crash over the train and if you had the windows open you would get soaked. We always had the windows open! Simons Town station was always very busy with commuters from the Naval dockyard using the line as well as school children commuting to the various schools along the line.
At Simons Town station you could turn and walk back along the main road to Glencairn or choose to explore the town. The town offers incredible naval history and there are a number of museums worth visiting. Check to see that museums are open during COVID. The architecture of the town is also influenced by the British who used Simons Town as a naval base up until their departure in 1957. Expect to see many Victorian style buildings in the main road.
Jubilee Square is the tourism hub of Simons Town. At Jubilee Square visit the statue of Just Nuisance. The actual grave of Just Nuisance is at the top of Red Hill road overlooking Simons Town. Able Seaman Just Nuisance was the only dog ever to be officially enlisted in the Royal Navy. The Great Dane, who between 1939 and 1944 served at HMS Afrikander. Just Nuisance also used to enjoy riding on the train. Learn more about the famous Just Nuisance here.
Jubilee Square also has a waterfront area attached to it. There are a wide variety of restaurants in the complex and fish and chips features on most menus. Try The Salty Sea Dog for fish and chips or Berthas Restaurant that offers a wider menu and overlooks the harbour. Tour operators offering diving, boat cruises and shark spotting tours are also based in the waterfront complex.
The aha Simons Town Quayside hotel offers comfortable accommodation over looking Simons Town harbour. The location is perfect and most attractions are within walking distance. Book the aha Simons Town Quayside hotel here.
Simons Towns Gorgeous Beaches
Simons Town is home to a number of interesting and beautiful beaches. You can find the only private beach in South Africa, namely the beach attached to Admiralty House in Simons Town. This area is not open to the public and belongs to the navy.
The most famous beach though has to be Boulders Beach. Boulders beach is home to the African penguin colony and a must visit. There is an entrance fee to visit the penguins and you cannot swim at this beach. The African Penguins are resident through out the year so you will guaranteed to bump into these cute creatures.
One of the best kept semi-secret beaches in Cape Town is located close to the penguin colony. On the main route to the Penguins ,behind what looks like a closed wooden gate, you will discover the beautiful secluded Waters Edge Beach. Water’s Edge is perfect for swimming and is very popular with the locals.
The other very popular beach for families who want a day out is Seaforth Beach. Close to the Waters Edge Beach and the Penguins this is by far the busiest beach in the area.
Visiting all these beaches can make you hungry. Check out Seaforth Restaurant for lunch. Seaforth Restaurant is one of my favourite restaurants in the area. Great food and overlooking Seaforth beach, it does not get much better than this.
Simons Town is a perfect town to for a weekend getaway. Spend a couple of days in the area and explore the town and the many nearby attractions on offer on the Cape Peninsula.