Simonstown - Historical Bayside Centre and Naval Town
Situated along the coastline of False Bay, Simonstown is a beautiful and historical bayside centre. The Simonstown harbor was founded in 1687 as a naval depot and has played a strong role in South African naval history ever since. At first it provided valuable anchorage during the Dutch colonial era until it was eventually taken over by the British to serve as the Royal Navy's main South Atlantic base in 1814. The Simonstown navy base was officially turned over to South Africa in 1957.
Today Simonstown is still very much a naval town but it is also home to a busy commercial and leisure craft industry as well as a thriving tourism trade. The local beaches are picturesque and visitors and locals often head to the shores to cool down on hot days. Seaforth and Foxy beach are popular as they offer somewhat more secluded surroundings while Boulders beach is known for its wildlife spotting opportunities.
Most visitors, however, spend more time in Simonstown's main road, which is known as 'The Historical Mile', than they do at the beaches. Many of the buildings lining this street have been around since the founding of the city and are more than 150 years old. A walking tour of this fascinating town center is one of the best ways to get acquainted with the history of the place. Tours will usually also include interesting buildings such as the Old Residency which is also the museum and which houses the Able Seaman Just Nuisance display - a tribute to the Great Dane who made the naval base his home - while his statue graces Jubilee Square. Of more maritime-related significance is the South African Naval Museum.
If you're looking for something a little different, the Warrior Toy Museum is quite unusual and the Topstones Mineral World is a great place to pick up some gemstone jewelry. The controversial Die Stem Pastorie is devoted to the countries national emblems as well as to the origin of the Old Afrikaans national anthem and the old South African flag. Simonstown is also home to the oldest English church in South Africa which was consecrated in 1814.
Besides seeing the fascinating historical attractions that are so abundant in Simonstown, you can organize to go on a sea kayak trip out to boulders beach to view the penguins in their natural habitat. Or you can paddle out towards Glencairn Beach where you may be fortunate enough to catch sight of the graceful Southern Right whales that come here to calf. Whatever you choose to do when you visit Simonstown, be sure to include an enjoyable journey into the countries interesting past.