From 12/27 through 12/30 we stayed in an AirBnB flat in the Sea Point neighborhood of Cape Town. It was right on the water, had a lot of good restaurants within walking distance, and felt a little bit like Cape Town’s version of Santa Monica.
The first day Artem and I went surfing at Glen Beach in Camp’s Bay, just a short drive down the coast from our flat. The waves weren’t great but the scenery was spectacular as the mountains that make up the Ten Apostles and Lion’s Head loomed above the water. The next day we drove
The next day Artem and I met up with Jayson again and went surfing at Dunes, a big beach break back down near Kommetjie. The waves were huge and I didn’t feel very comfortable paddling out with my 5’11 board (most people were on much larger boards) but it was a 20 minute walk across the sand to get there so I gave it a shot. I’d almost made it out back when a huge set came and a massive wave broke right on top of me. When I came up from under the white water my board was sheered in half and I paddled back in. Artem and I sat on the beach and watched Jayson go for a couple of bombs and then we all went out for lunch and beers.
That night I went out with Shannon, who I’d met at the hostel a couple days earlier and is also from the Bay Area, to the GrandWest casino. We were originally just planning to go check out a bar in Woodstock, a neighborhood I’d heard is really cool, but everything was closed down for the holidays. Our Uber driver as actually the one who told us about the casino and though I’d heard there’s some great casinos in Cape Town I hadn’t actually seen any evidence of them anywhere around town. It turns out it’s a 20 minute drive outside of town, towards the airport, in a huge resort complex. I had no idea what to expect but when we walked inside it felt like we’d been transported half-way around the world in to a Vegas casino (minus the crowd). I was super excited to play some craps but the only table they had was closed. I asked the pit-boss what the deal was and he said they only open it by special request. I asked him if I could make a special request now but he said they didn’t have the staff to open it that night. We played some black jack and roulette instead, I lost, but it was still a fun night.
The following day Artem and I decided to spend some time exploring the townships. I mentioned this in a earlier post, but the townships are massive areas where blacks and ‘coloreds’ were forcibly relocated during apartheid. Now they are still largely slums, but actually have nice middle-class areas as well. The people who live in these areas are mostly professionals who could afford to move in to Cape Town but are more comfortable where they grew up. Our first stop was ‘’’’’’, a famous BBQ joint in the ‘’’ township. When you walk in it looks like basically like a butcher shop and you order your meat. They throw it all in a metal tray, season it, and then give it to you to take out back where there are guys with bug ‘braai’ pits (South African wood burning barbecues). You give them your tray, take a seat a picnic table outside, and wait for your food. We had steak, sausage, and lamb chops all of which were great. All of the other guests were white people there with a black tour guide, apparently ‘township tours’ is a growing tourism activity. We talked to one of the tour guides and asked him what else we should check out and he said we should go to the Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha, Cape Town’s biggest township. We drove some through some really bad areas where everyone was packed densely in tin shacks and very poor infrastructure and eventually arrived at a pretty nice facility at Lookout Hill. It was basically just a hill that looked over the nicer part of the Khayelitsha, nothing very impressive, but there was also an incubator that helped out entrepreneurs in the area. Unfortunately it was also closed for the holidays so I didn’t get to learn much more about it.
Later that evening we paddled out just a couple minutes away from our flat to a reef break in Sea Point. The waves were amazing and when we first got out it was really crowded, but the crowd quickly thinned out and it was just Artem and I with a couple other people for the next two hours. There were plenty of long right-handers and it was definitely the best waves we’d had since J-Bay. I was completely exhausted by the time we got out of the water as the sunset.
On the 30th we moved from Sea Point in to a new pad that we’d rented out for the next three days. The place was just off Kloof Street, the trendiest nightlife area in Cape Town, and it had an amazing view of Table Mountain. We briefly met the owners, a couple who lived downstairs, and they invited us to a little get together in the backyard later that night.
Once we had our stuff moved out of the car and in to the new pad we got in the car and headed down to Cape Point, the southeastern tip of Africa. It’s a big national park and the wait to get in was really bad, about 45 minutes, but once we got in there was not traffic and it was really beautiful. Jayson had told us about a good surf break just between Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope and that’s where we headed. After some searching we eventually found a rocky beach break at the end of a huge deserted beach. The waves weren’t great but it was really amazing to be surfing at Cape Point and to have to have the whole place to ourselves, definitely a surf that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
Once we were surfed out we went to check out the penguins in Simon’s Town. It was super touristy and real mission to park and get to the reserve, but we were rewarded with exactly what we were looking for, a beach full of penguins. They don’t really do anything particularly interesting but they sure are cute.
That night Shannon Artem and I joined Josh and Kate-Louise, the couple that lives downstairs, along with some of their friends for a braai. Josh cooked up a bunch of ostrich along with some pork, lamb, and beef. The ostrich was great, much more similar to venison that to chicken, and it was really to meet some very like minded people half-way around the world. We had an awesome night and I really hope to see them again sometime.
The following day was new year’s eve and Shannon and I went to the beach, where I had a final surf of 2015, and then caught an epic sunset over Camp’s Bay.
We also decided to have a quiet relaxed new year rather than going out and partying, the first I’ve done that that I can remember. It was very relaxed, just the three of us having some champagne and listening the fireworks, and the best part was starting 2016 off without a hangover!
One the second we checked out of our flat and headed down to Gaansbai, about a 2 hour drive south of Cape Town to do some shark cage diving. We went back and forth about whether or not to do it; some local surfers we’d talked to don’t like it because they think it encourages attacks on people wearing wetsuits. We eventually decided to do it because the area they do it in is far away from any surf spots and it seemed like the best opportunity we were ever going to get to see some white sharks up close and personal.
The way it works is you take a boat out in to the bay, they attach a huge cage on the side of the boat, and then start chumming the waters. 6 people get in the cage at the time and they bait the sharks right in front of you with a fish head on a rope. We saw some seriously massive sharks, ranging from 8-12 foot, and it was a really cool and scary experience. It’s amazing how big, fast, and sneaky they are. Sometimes they would slowly swim towards the fish head and basically just ignore it, and others they would come from the depths and strike it before the guy holding the rope even had a chance to react.
We stayed down near Gaansbai that night and visited Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa.
After that we drove back to Cape Town and met up with Stephen, another friend from SF who I’ll be driving through Namibia and Botswana with, at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens to watch a legendary South African rock band called the Parlotones. The show venue was stunning and the show was a blast.
We made friends with a group of travelers from Johannesburg who went out with later that night and did some dancing. It was awesome to have a crew of SF guys here in Cape Town.
The following day, the 4th, was our last in Cape Town and we just hung out and took it easy. Artem flew out super early the next morning and Stephen and I began our trek in to the Namibian desert.