Coasteering, Simon’s Town
Try Gravity Adventure’s guided coasteering for an action-packed, saltwater and seaspray experience. It’s a little like kloofing (canyoning) except that you jump into the ocean rather than into a river.
A swim to rocks (just off a sheltered beach in Simon’s Town) starts off with some leisurely snorkelling where you may get to see klipvis, swaying kelp forests, pretty anemones and possibly even a small shyshark.
When you’ve had your fill of gazing into this windowless aquarium, you can hoist yourself out of the ocean (sometimes the gentle wash of water can assist) and walk to the top of the rocks quite easily. Then it’s time for carefree leaping off granite boulders and into the sea before your life jacket brings you bobbing to the surface.
Wetsuits, life jackets, helmets, goggles and snorkels are provided and lunch can be organised if needed. Children from seven and older can take part and there’s no need to jump off the higher rocks if you don’t want to.
Set aside half a day for the activity.
SUP Cape Town’s canals
Stand-up paddleboarding on the V&A Waterfront’s canals is a relaxing way to while away an hour or two. The boards are broad and fairly easy to balance on and if you’re feeling the heat, you can slip overboard and cool off.
After you’ve been briefed at the Battery Park starting point on how to maneuver the board using the paddle, you’ll glide under a bridge and between luxury apartments with Table Mountain as a backdrop.
The cool canal waters lead to a man-made island, which roughly marks the half-way point on an hour’s excursion. Circumnavigate this marker before heading back and enjoy the view from a new angle.
If you'd like to paddle on the open ocean, you can join an instructor-led SUP experience at Clifton Fourth Beach during the summer.
Kayak, Three Anchor Bay
Take in spectacular views of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and The 12 Apostles from a vantage point that few get to experience daily. An ocean kayaking experience with Cape Kayak Adventures will have you skimming across the deep blue Atlantic, where you can keep a lookout for sunfish, Cape fur seals, dolphins and occasionally whales.
The trip takes you from the launch site at Three Anchor Bay to Granger Bay or towards Bantry Bay, depending on the weather and sea conditions.
On your way to Granger Bay, you’ll pass the Green Point Lighthouse and the wrecks of the Seafarer and RMS Athens in a popular area for spotting endemic Heaviside’s dolphins.
No previous paddling experience is necessary and children over six can participate. The two-hour trip is weather dependent and booking is essential.
Waterbiking, Simon’s Town
Cape Town Water Bikes allows you to explore the False Bay’s coastline from a perch above the surface of the ocean.
Designed specifically for cycling on the sea, the water bikes can be rented privately or you can book a guided one- or two-hour trip. Depending on the weather, options include an excursion to Boulders Beach where you can view the African penguin colony or to the SS Clan Stuart shipwreck that ran aground in 1914.
The silent, human-powered bikes are an eco-friendly and unusual way in which to explore the scenic splendour of Simon’s Town’s coastline without getting wet. You need to be 13 or older to take part in the two-hour trip.
Paddling, Zandvlei Estuary
Glide across the surface of this large Cape Town estuary in a kayak while enjoying its avifauna.
Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve is home to around 160 species of bird and a number of others visit the estuary seasonally. You’ll find the Cape teal and the blacksmith plover among the many common residents, while the African marsh harrier or peregrine falcon will be a treat to spot.
Estuaries are important breeding grounds for fish and the Zandvlei Estuary acts as a nursery to a number of species like garrick and white steenbras, while predators including the Cape clawless otter and water mongoose can be found here too.
Paddle Experiences provides all the equipment for the family-friendly outing and no previous paddling experience is necessary. However, if you do want to enhance your paddling skills, you can sign up for lessons.
Scuba dive or snorkel for science, Simon’s Town
Cape Research and Diver Development (Cape Radd) offers guided scuba and snorkelling, as well as boat-based, citizen-science expeditions in False Bay.
Join marine biologists and members of the marine research team and choose how you’d like to participate in research while having fun at the same time.
Learn about the biodiversity and the unique ecosystems over breakfast and find out more information about the animals you may encounter, before heading out.
On the snorkelling or scuba trip, you’ll get to swim or dive in the kelp forests in a sheltered bay, while collecting data on the different fish and other species in each area.
If you opt for the boat-based expedition, you’ll stay onboard and witness the underwater realm through drop cameras while keeping an eye out for seals, penguins, whales, dolphins and sharks.
Seal snorkelling, Hout Bay
Snorkel with hundreds of playful Cape fur seals in the Atlantic Ocean and enjoy a remarkable encounter with these sleek and sometimes sneaky creatures. The snorkelling site and home to a colony of thousands of seals is just off Duiker Island, which falls within Karbonkelberg marine protected area in Hout Bay.
Your adventure begins with an open-air ride in a 10-person inflatable craft and two snorkel guides will accompany each group in the sea, just off the island.
While seals appear cumbersome on land, once in the water they can whip around you and other objects with torpedo-like precision, with their bulbous eyes and long whiskers taking in their underwater surroundings. Don’t be surprised to feel the air bubbles from a curious sea pup beneath you.
You’ll need to be a fairly confident swimmer, as that’s what you’ll be doing. Wetsuits, snorkels and masks are provided.