Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Supplied & Google Maps
Fish Hoek’s jewel is its glorious long sandy beach on False Bay, safe for swimming and a favourite with windsurfers. The town itself may not draw tourist crowds; the unassuming architecture can’t compete with the quaintness of neighbouring Kalk Bay or Simonstown’s sense of history, but it has an everyday charm that locals value.
“It’s a down-to-earth community where people live, work and send their kids to school,” says resident Jo Hill. “The beach is the focus, that and the beautiful mountains. It’s become a very eclectic community with people from all over Africa settling here. It really does have soul.”
“Fish Hoek is a particularly caring community, with many community initiatives and charities,” says resident Brenda Bryden. “When you walk into the mall, down the main road or at the beach, you will always find someone who knows you.”
“House prices are going up, but it’s one of the few sea-side places in Cape Town where families can buy a home and still be able to afford school fees.” says Jo. It’s a real old-fashioned seaside town, she adds, with lots of owner-run businesses, many of which have been in the family for twenty or more years, knowing all their customers by name. “There’s a much bigger population than you imagine,” she says of her decision three years ago to move her artisan bakery, C’est la Vie, to Fish Hoek from previous locations in the more tourist-centred areas of Kalk Bay and Muizenberg. “People live and work here so there’s a year-round market. People have got used to walking to buy their bread in the morning.” Residential property ranges from one- and two-bed apartments, to family homes with ocean views perched high above the road to Simonstown, or houses with gardens in the quiet residential streets that spread across the valley.
The Fish Hoek public schools go all the way from pre-primary up to high school and have an excellent reputation for a solid, value-driven education. Other well-regarded schools in the area include Capella House, Bay Primary, Imhoff Waldorf School and Sun Valley Primary School.
“Our community is testimony to the adage: It takes a village to raise a child,” says Brenda, “I would recommend it to anyone with young children. The schools are excellent, all the churches run youth groups and often holiday camps, there are Brownie and Girl Guide packs, and Scout and Cub troops to keep children occupied, and loads of dance schools.”
“Kids grow up with an active, beach-focussed life,” adds Jo. “The life-saving club is huge, taking kids from Starfish, through Nippers to becoming lifeguards.”
“Beach, beach and more beach,” says Brenda of her favourite things to do, “swimming, walking on the beach, picnicking on the beach, walking the famous catwalk, and sitting for a while to just appreciate the beauty around me and to pause and reflect.” All the wild beauty of the Cape Point nature reserve is practically on the doorstep, as are the penguins at Boulders beach and the thrills of seeing the whales in the bay in the winter months, so that nature is never far away. Fish Hoek has its own protected Silvermine River Wetlands, a rich resource for botanists and bird watchers, and home to the endangered leopard toad.
There are lots of local eateries in Fish Hoek itself, plenty of trendy cafes in Kalk Bay, and for fine dining it’s a short hop to Noordhoek for Franck Dangereux’s Food Barn. With a bustling train station and loads of Ubers, Fish Hoek feels central and connected to the rest of the South Peninsula and the Southern Suburbs yet is a self-sufficient town in its own right with a relaxed beach-centred lifestyle.
Fish Hoek is a wonderful place to bring up children – lots of sand, sea and fresh air, wetlands, nature reserves and hikes in the area – and an embracing community
Brenda Bryden, resident
- Walk the catwalk to Sunny Cove
- Visit the penguins at Boulders Beach
- Whale watching in winter
- Watersports – from wind-surfing to SUP
- Hikes and beach picnics in Cape Point nature reserve
- Fish Hoek Fisheries: the best fish and chips and fish cakes
- Barracudas: unpretentious seafood, grills and curries
- C’est La Vie: breakfasts and freshly baked French-style artisan bread
- Stag Coffee Company: morning coffee and snacks
- Napoli: authentic Italian for the best pizza
- The Galley: brunches and seafood right on the beach with sea views
- Wakefords for household appliances and furniture
- AP Jones department store for school uniforms, swimwear and branded clothing
- Main Road for a comprehensive selection of owner-run stores, banks and services
- Woolworths Food and a family Pick n Pay in the town centre
- Longbeach Mall in Sun Valley for high-street fashion stores