Hello fellow Cape Town travellers! Welcome to 2021. The tourism industry all over the world has taken a bit of a knock with this whole pandemic thing. Which sucks for us explorers, but undoubtedly sucks even more so for those who make their livelihoods from it. In an effort to turn this bleak situation into something a little more positive, I’ve made it my personal quest to be a tourist in my own city as much as I can while I’m here – and I may have just found one of the best ways to do that… Kayak Adventures!
Normally a little more expensive*, Cape Town Kayak Adventures, based in one of the city’s most iconic shorelines, in Hout Bay, has been running a weekday promotion (50% off!) and so I couldn’t avoid conquering my fear of the sea any longer. I recruited Bae, donned my bikini (which is a little more snug after all the festive season treats) and we coated ourselves in a liberal amount of sunscreen before heading out to Hout Bay early on a Monday morning.
I’ll admit, I was nervous as I stepped (awkwardly) into that little green boat and started bobbing along in the harbour, trying to understand the best way to manoeuvre the oar. I was both comforted and perturbed by the fact that I was sharing the kayak with my partner (seated behind me and in charge of steering) who is enough of a menace to tip the whole thing intentionally and toss us both into the ocean for a laugh (a plot I assume he abandoned after realising how cold the water was). There were only a couple of small collisions with the other members of our adventure party ( all locals who, like us, were trying to play tourist at home).
Things started going a lot more smoothly as we left the harbour and moved out into open waters. We were blessed with calm waters and little wind, and our guide, Archie, had already calmed any nerves we had about sharks (unlikely to meet them, he said). He took us out to a few spots in the bay, and explained the history of the area and some of its more iconic buildings, as well as gifting us with a few fun facts and some jokes along the way.
Did I mention that this was a major workout? Even with the water as calm as it can be, steering the little green boat, and keeping it moving in the right direction took a lot of work, and as I write this I can feel my arms warning me that they’ll be hurting tomorrow. For me, the workout is a plus, and along with Archie’s humour and a view of Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak that I haven’t had before, the experience had already exceeded my expectations halfway into the trip.
We still had another three or four kilometres to go. These included some mild sea-sickness (or dehydration or over-exertion or SOMETHING), a load of splashing (my co-pilot behind me getting revenge), and dolphins! Having never seen one outside captivity, this was especially exciting for me. They have no fear of the little kayaks, and zoom about between them as if purposefully trying to dodge photographs.
Finally, the cherry on the floating cake was the Green Room. This quiet, hidden place that can’t be seen from the land made me feel like I had been transported to another world. I would have loved to float around in there for hours, just admiring the way the light changed colour as it filtered through the water, and watching the fish cavorting below my kayak.
The entire journey was well worth the cost, the potential for sunburn ( see notes below) and the tired arms. Whether you’re a Cape Town local or just a visitor to the area, this is a MUST. Not only will it show off the city from a different vantage point, but you’ll have had a breathtaking experience and, if your guide is half as good as Archie, you’ll have picked up a few nuggets of knowledge too.
Things to keep in mind before you embark on your Cape Town Kayak Adventure:
- Hat 👏🏼 and 👏🏼 sunscreen 👏🏼 . These are absolutely essential as the trip can take two hours or probably more on a rough day, and there is nowhere to hide from the sun which is coming at you from all angles.
- Take a bottle of water with you, because kayaking is hard work and hydration is an act of self care. However, there are no ablution facilities on your tiny little boat, so don’t over do it before you get on. There are no bathroom breaks on your journey.
- Everything you have on your person will get wet. Plan accordingly.
- That being said, you definitely want to be able to document the journey. If you don’t own a GoPro, you can rent one and I highly recommend it – particularly when the dolphins start showing off and you want to stick your camera under the water.
- Again, it IS exercise. Be prepared to feel (and embrace) the burn.
I’m so grateful that I got to experience this journey despite everything that’s been going on lately, and it really reminded me of the beauty of this part of the country. If you haven’t yet seen Cape Town from the damp seat of a tiny plastic boat, with your shoulders screaming at you, and feeling a little queasy from the rhythm of the waves, it might be time to book your own kayak adventure.
* Looking at the price on the Kayak Adventures website prior to actually going on my kayak adventure, it did seem somewhat steep, but after experiencing all of it – the quality of the guidance and the service, the views, the close encounters with marine life – it makes a lot more sense. I’m sure it would be totally worth it, even at full price.
Remember, you can follow more of the author’s adventures and discoveries by checking out her Instagram, @avo_maki, or visiting her blog here. Also be sure to keep an eye on our Reviews section for more Cape Town adventure ideas!