The old worlde charm of St James, epitomized by its stately mansions and colourful Victorian bathing boxes, contrasts with the bustle of Kalk Bay with its unique blend of bohemian shops, restaurants, art galleries and, of course, its picturesque and busy fishing harbour. The surf breaks along this beautiful shoreline are a magnet to surfers. What better way to start the day than by having a “dawnie” at the reef or a stroll along the walkway, the sun rising over the purple mountains and the salty sea spray invigorating the senses. For fisherfolk, artists, poets and businessmen……this is home!
Photo by Willie Ingpen of Fish Hoek. For Willie’s picutres of whales on the False Bay coast see
A little Eden
Kalk Bay has what might best be termed a ‘micro-climate’ which is quite different to the rest of the Peninsula. It is milder in summer, less wet in winter and best of all is mostly a wind free zone – a well kept secret that few residents boast about – and all because of those lovely towering kranzes above the village. Their function is similar to that of a boulder in a the middle of a trout stream. As the water parts each side of the boulder it creates a small calm vortex at the front of the rock where, incidentally, the biggest trout lie, conserving energy.
The summer Southeaster that howls across False Bay like a squadron of jet fighters splits as it approaches Kalk Bay and most of it hurtles on over the unfortunates in Fish Hoek and Muizenberg. A small tail of the wind lifts over the Kalk Bay cliffs and creates in its vortex a gentle breeze that is just enough to cool the lucky ‘trouts’ of Kalk Bay even on the hottest summer day. Residents, and visitors in the know, are able to enjoy the pleasures of the three tidal pools, or even the thrills of Danger Beach, without having to abandon their planned swimming and sunbathing or being sandblasted. If staying in Kalk Bay and planning a day trip beyond the wind free zone it is always advisable to look out to sea and check on the white horse activity to get some idea of just how uncomfortable it might be elsewhere.
Given this excellent climate, there are so many activities in the area, chief of which must be tramping the Steenberg trails and enjoying the views from the vantage points high above the village. At the right time of the year there are excellent visions of the visiting whales which mate and calve in the clear wind-free waters. Pods of dolphin can also be seen, rocking their way across the bay or rounding up shoals of fish for an orgy of feasting. The Cape Floral Kingdom is unique and excellent examples of many of the unique flowers and shrubs grow on the slopes, blossoming and blooming at different times of the year. They attract a wide variety of bird life and to see the sunbirds flashing their electric colours among the protea with the wide beautiful bay in the background is an experience to remember.
One of the chief criticisms of Kalk Bay – from outsiders – is that it loses the sun early in winter, which makes it cold and damp and unappealing. It cannot be denied that part of this stretch of the coast is in shadow in the early afternoons in winter, but the early morning sun, shining and warming, as day breaks over the Hottentots Holland mountains more than balances this minor fault. And the same mountains that create the shadow serve as a magnificent windbreak against winter’s Northwesters which blow high over the community emptying themselves of most of their burden of rain in Constantia as they rise, leaving just enough to water the gardens without the flooding that is such a feature of other areas of the Peninsula.
Truly a little Eden
By Terry Herbert
Harbour Corner, Kalk Bay Dawn over False Bay Waves, Kalk Bay
Photos by Terry Herbert
For talks hosted by the Kalk Bay Historical Society see http://scenicsouth.co.za//2011/04/kalk-bay-historical-association-talks-2011-2012/
For news of what’s available from the Kalk Bay Historical Society see
See it Kalk Bay (http://capepointroute.co.za/seeit-kalkbay.php )