Although it’s essentially a suburb of Cape Town, Muizenberg still feels like an independent seaside town with its own unique atmosphere and attractions. It’s located 18 miles (30 kilometers) from the city center and has been a popular vacation destination for wealthy South Africans since the late 19th century. Today, Muizenberg is probably most famous for its long, white beach, reliable surf breaks and colorful beach huts. It’s also a bohemian sanctuary with more than its fair share of independent art galleries and boutiques. Head to this False Bay idyll on a day trip from central Cape Town or make Muizenberg the primary destination for your next South African adventure.
Grab a Board and Go Surfing
Muizenberg is known as one of the best surf spots in South Africa for beginners thanks to the consistent waves and gently sloping sand bottom of the beach at Surfer’s Corner. The spot offers both left and right-hand breaks and if you don’t already know how to surf, there are plenty of shops offering lessons. Of these, Gary’s Surf School is one of the oldest in the country. You can also rent boards and wetsuits — which you’ll need, despite the fact that the waters of False Bay are noticeably warmer than those off Cape Town’s Atlantic coast. Muizenberg is also particularly popular with longboarders and in winter the prevailing northwest wind brings bigger waves for more advanced surfers. False Bay is notoriously sharky, so make sure to keep an eye on the Shark Spotters’ color-coded warning flags.
Try a Wealth of Other Watersports
Surfing is not the only way to get your adrenalin fix on Muizenberg’s beaches. Surfstore Africa also offers kitesurfing and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) lessons while Sunrise Beach is a popular spot for blokarting. For those that don’t know, blokarts are wind-powered land yachts that you can use to “sail” up and down the beach at breakneck speeds. The Imperial Yacht Club hires out small sailboats for public use and anglers can fish for local species such as shad, kob and Cape stumpnose from the beach’s rocky areas. If you’d rather be under the water than on top of it, Cape Town Freediving offers apnea courses that teach you the art of breathhold diving. If you can freedive already, sign up for fun dives with the area’s native Cape fur seals or prehistoric seven-gill sharks.
Spend a Day on the Beach
Blue Flag-awarded Muizenberg Beach is also a great place to simply kick back, relax and enjoy the view. The shallow waters offer safe swimming for the entire family and are protected by trained lifeguards in season. Rows of brightly painted beach huts make the town one of the most Instagrammable places in South Africa; while Muizenberg Water Slides is situated right next to the beach. If you feel like a little exercise, stroll along the beachfront to the suburb of St. James. This 3-mile (5-kilometer) route takes you to another scenic beach and a popular tidal pool. However you choose to spend your time, keep an eye out for southern right whales if you’re visiting between June and November. These majestic animals come into the Cape’s bays to calve and are often spotted close to shore.
Learn About Muizenberg's History
Established as a Dutch military post in 1743, Muizenberg was the site of a battle that led to the British takeover of the Cape Colony. In the late 19th century the town became a popular vacation spot for prospectors who made their fortune in the Witwatersrand Gold Rush. Today, Muizenberg’s Historical Mile sheds light on the past with a series of important landmarks including Het Posthuys and the Rhodes Cottage Museum. The former is the oldest surviving building on the False Bay coastline. Built by the Dutch East India Company in 1742, it served as a toll-house, police station, stables and brothel but is now a public museum full of photographs and artifacts relating to the town’s colonial past. The latter was the home of infamous imperialist Cecil Rhodes and now houses interesting exhibits about his life and legacy.
Explore Nearby Nature Areas
Muizenberg is surrounded by beautiful nature reserves. At the head of the estuary that runs through town is the Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve, a 200-hectare wetland system with an environmental education center and a mile-long (1.5-kilometer-long) walkway with bird hides and picnic tables. On your wanderings, look out for otters, mongeese and the endemic Cape grysbok antelope. Rondevlei Nature Reserve is slightly further away but is well worth a visit for its resident hippo population. These are the only wild hippos in the Cape Town area and they can be seen on a chartered boat safari that also offers excellent bird watching opportunities. Hikers will love the nearby Silvermine Nature Reserve. Its challenging trails, peaks and caves can be accessed from Boyes Drive, the astonishingly beautiful mountain pass that connects Muizenberg to Kalk Bay.
Enjoy Some Homegrown Culture
Artistic talent is nurtured in Muizenberg and there are several excellent entertainment venues to explore. Built by an Italian Count in flamboyant 18th-century Venetian style, Casa Labia is now a cultural center with a seasonal programme of art classes, concerts, lectures and poetry readings. It also hosts monthly series such as the Summer Sunday Jazz Concerts and the Classical Morning Concerts (held on Thursdays). Alternatively, Muizenberg’s Masque Theatre is the venue of choice for community and professional plays. Its event calendar also includes everything from dance showcases to film screenings. Come in October and you may be able to take part in the Muizenberg Festival, a two-week celebration of local culture complete with a full schedule of public performances and events.
Indulge in Some Retail Therapy
The town’s artistic community is also represented in many of Muizenberg’s independent boutiques. Palmer Road in particular is renowned as the place to go if you’re looking for a unique gift or souvenir. Head to Made in Muizenberg for arts, crafts, fashion and homewares from local artists or designers; or MM Galleries for fine art and sculptures from across the wider Cape Town area. Other favorite shops include collectors’ emporium Rattlesnake Books and Rolling Wood, a boutique surf store that specializes in wooden surfboards and skateboards. The latter is also a great place to hang out, with regular music events and surf film screenings on Sundays. If you love markets, don’t miss the Blue Bird Garage Market, held every Friday night in an old plane hangar. Think artisan crafts, gourmet food stalls, craft beer and live music.
Discover the Local Culinary Scene
Muizenberg’s eateries are just as diverse. Start your day at Hang Ten Café, a classic surfer’s hangout known for its signature crépes. This is the kind of place that has Jack Johnson on the sound system, vegan items on the menu and cracking ocean views. Also located in Surfer’s Corner, Tiger’s Milk serves handcrafted pizzas, burgers and Tex Mex alongside locally brewed own-label lager. Predictably, seafood is a special highlight of many Muizenberg restaurants. Head to Mozambique-style Carla’s to try enormous peri-peri prawns or opt for a sophisticated meal overlooking the beach at Live Bait. Here, beach house-chic decor complements a menu of freshly prepared sushi and line-caught fish.