The Cape Peninsula is a full day trip in itself with many stunning places to visit including beaches, cliffs and lighthouses. So here is the ultimate guide to the Cape Peninsula.
Getting There & Costs
If you are coming from the centre of Cape Town you can take the M6 south along Chapman’s Peak Drive (be aware this road is often closed in winter) past Simon’s Town using the M4. Then you will see signs for the Cape of Good Hope and the National Park entrance.
Alternatively if you are coming from the Cape Town suburbs (like Wynberg or Claremont) you can take the M5, then follow the coastal M4 road past Muizenberg Beach until you see the signs for the National Park.
The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point are part of the Table Mountain National Park. Now another day previous to this trip we had tried to go to this area but had no idea it was going to cost money just to enter the park, and we were not expecting the cost, even with SADC discount. I assumed incorrectly that you would just have to pay perhaps to see the New Cape Point Lighthouse and that other sights would be free because they included beaches.
So be prepared that a Table Mountain National Park fee applies, and is to be paid at the ticket machines as you drive in. Here are the costs below:
South African (with ID) Adult: R85 (US$5.70)
SADC Nationals (with ID) Adult: R170 (US$11.50)
Standard Entry: R340 (US$23)
Also a note on transportation. I will probably write a blog post about general advise about visiting Cape Town but I would highly recommend renting a car. I see little other option if you want to discover some of these more remote places. Sure you can take the hop on buses to popular attractions around town or a tour to the Cape Peninsula but it really limits your movement. You will have to drive between points so definitely get a car hire!
Things To See And Do
1) Cape Point & the New Cape Point Lighthouse
There are actually two lighthouses at Cape Point, but only one is still operational in terms of being a nautical guide. So the lighthouse in the picture below is actually the old lighthouse, and this is the one that you will be able to walk up too. This lighthouse was built in 1860 and stands at 249m above sea level. This lighthouse proved to be extremely ineffective due to the fact that it was often covered by clouds and mist. This resulted in a number of devastating shipwrecks. In 1911 the Portuguese Liner Lusitania, which had 774 people on board, crashed into the rugged rocks, due to an inability to see the lighthouse light in the bad weather. From that moment on it was decided to build another lighthouse lower down at 87m to provide better protection for ships in the area.
The route to the Cape Point Lighthouse is subtly signposted, but you just keep following the road straight from the ticket booth entrance. There is sizeable car park at the bottom of the lighthouse and a couple of options to get to the top. My preference for getting to the top is to walk up. Its not too steep, but it is very windy! At times, nearer the top, I was unable to walk the wind was trying to drag me away. But you cannot beat the views on the way up to the lighthouse. There are spectacular views of Diaz Beach the whole way up. I’m not too sure how long the walk took because I left my phone in the car, but it definitely wasn’t more than 30 minutes. But if you don’t want to walk for whatever reason you can take the funicular (I love that word). The funicular ride is 585m long and the ride takes just 3 minutes.The prices for the funicular can be seen below.
9am-12pm return adult – R70 (US$4.70)
9am-12pm one way adult – R55 (US$3.70)
12pm-5.30pm return adult – R80 (US$5.40)
12pm-5.30pm one way adult – R65 (US$4.40)
Kids return – R35 (US$2.30)
Kids oneway – R25 (US$1.70)
On a usual day there are a few facilities at Cape Point, there are toilets, a gift shop and a cafe, but due to COVID they were more than a little shut when I went. But I bet its a nice place to stop for a cup of tea or coffee and take in the views.
2) Cape of Good Hope
A common misnomer about the Cape of Good Hope is that it’s the southern most point of Africa. In fact the southern most tip of the continent is near Cape Agulhas. I also have no idea why people make this mistake because if you look at a map it is glaringly obvious that the Cape Peninsular is much further north than this point. So the Cape of Good Hope does boast a title as the most south-western point of the African continent. You can drive to this spot before or after your trip to the Cape Point lighthouse. I will give you a warning here though, it was very underwhelming at the Cape of Good Hope. I would describe it more as a picture spot and for the feeling of knowing that you are at the most south-westerly point in Africa. Be prepared for WIND. A lot of WIND! Whilst walking I was being knocked sideways, and even when I tried reversing my little Suzuki was struggling.
You can see from the photo below on the left there is a walk heading up the cliff. The sign says scenic walk but frankly I thought it was a little dangerous. I walked up the first part which was a nice path but once I was up on the rocks it became very windy and I could hardly see the path, it felt like I was a going to be putting myself in danger to go much further and I was alone so I walked back down. But by all means, be a little braver than me and try. I think by the looks of it this path leads up the cliff and onto the wooden board walks that look out over the top of Diaz Beach and that reach the Cape Point Lighthouse.
3) Diaz Beach & Cape Peninsula Wooden Walkway
I briefly mentioned this beach and walkway above but you can see in the picture below the winding walkway that hugs the cliff edge. Views of Diaz beach are plentiful as you walk up to Cape Point lighthouse but you can also go down to the beach itself using the board walk path. Diaz beach boasts beautiful white sand and turquoise waters.
You should try out the Cape of Good Hope Trail. Starting at the car park at Cape Point, you can follow the well signposted trail that goes for 3.5km, a 2-3 hour (return) easy flat walk. Enjoy spectacular views of Diaz Beach, the crashing waves and jagged cliff edge.
4) Olifantsbos Beach & Thomas Tucker Trail
Olifantsbos beach is a small little stoned beach, but it really acts as the starting point for more exploring along this impressive coastline. Starting at the Olifantsbos beach car park you can follow two routes along the Thomas Tucker shipwreck trail. One is a more direct route along the coastline that is an 1h30m return and the other is a circular route that heads inland that takes around 2h30m. I’m not sure whether I didn’t walk far enough (I was a little pushed for time, wanting to get somewhere for sunset) or it was due to the tide was in but I didn’t quite reach the shipwrecks. But they look really interesting.
5) A Self Drive Safari?
Ok so this one was a little unexpected. I was driving from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Point when something rather tall and feathery suddenly appeared on the road. I was so shocked and excited, I just started to laugh, I was simply not expecting an ostrich to walk into the road. After this sighting a few more animals came to greet me. My whole time in Cape Town I had been seeing “Beware of Baboons” signs but not a baboon could be found. But as I turned to Olifantsbos beach a baboon boldly stood in the middle of the road refusing to move, he even posed for photos. Then shortly after this I saw a small herd of Bontebok Antelope. They were really beautiful, they reminded me of the impala that you see on safari in Zambia only more colourful. There were tortoise road warning signs but sadly I didn’t see any slowly walking across the roads. There are a few other animals that you can see on the Cape Peninsula, though not in large numbers. Mongoose, porcupines, zebra, eland, grysbok, chameleons, lizards and snakes can also be found in the area, so keep your eyes peeled and your cameras ready.
The Cape Peninsula already provides incredible coastline views and spectacular beaches and with the additional bonus of interesting wildlife its an absolute must see when visiting Cape Town.
6) Platboom Beach
I have seen Platboom Beach described as Cape Point’s “most deserted beach” and I think this might just be right. I visited the beach directly from the Platboom beach car park and there wasn’t a sole in sight. And around two hours later I flew my drone towards Platboom and I just saw one loan walker almost poetically strolling along the beach.