Words: Kit Heathcock
Twenty years ago Big Bay was a popular surfing beach with a picnic and braai area and very little development. Now it’s a suburb in its own right, spreading north from Bloubergstrand and undulating back into the dunes, connected by new roads to the R27 coast road and the rest of the Western Seaboard. Surfing, kite-surfing and windsurfing are still Big Bay’s life-blood with the international Red Bull King of the Air Kitesurfing competition taking place here annually. For most residents living here it’s all about the laid-back beach lifestyle, close enough to the city to be connected, but with sea air, sundowners and picnics on the lawns in front of vibey Eden on the Bay, and those stunning views of Table Mountain and Robben Island never taken for granted.
Eden on the Bay is a mixed-use development with a parade of restaurants overlooking the beach, backed by shops, offices and apartments. The apartments appeal to international kite-surfers, holiday-makers and young professionals, who enjoy the convenience of being right on the beach with everything on hand. A succession of secure residential estates stretch back into the dunes, built in stages over the last 15 years. Families tend to choose Sandown, Blouberg Hills or Dune Ridge for the spacious homes on larger plots with excellent security, or exclusive Water’s Edge with ocean views. The townhouses of Kingshaven are much in demand, as are the lock-and-go apartments of Big Bay Beach Club as holiday homes and investments. As the suburb has developed, services and facilities have grown with it, so the two small shopping centres between them have now everything from travel agents to beauty salons, vets and dog parlours, doctors, chiropractors and dentists. For more specialist medical care, the Netcare Blaauwberg Hospital is close by at Sunningdale.
The Western Seaboard is well-provided with private schools, from established Elkanah House, Parklands College, CBC St Johns, Blouberg International School and Melkbosstrand Private School, to newer offerings such as Generation Schools and brand new Rallim Preparatory, catering to the growing population as Sunningdale and Parklands expand further. Well-regarded public schools include Milnerton, Table View and Melkbosstrand High Schools, plus a good selection of primary schools. The MyCiTi bus route connects Big Bay to all these areas so that older kids can travel independently.
Another appeal for families is the outdoor lifestyle that is geared to growing kids. “I love the fact that my son and his friends can take a soccer ball down to the beach, or boogie board., or that my daughter can meet a few friends for lunch or go riding at the stables in nearby Melkbosstrand,” says resident Shirley Beier. Local water-babies grow up advancing through the micro nipper and nipper programmes at the Big Bay Surf Lifesaving Club, eventually qualifying as lifeguards. The beach really is the local piazza, with full moon beach hikes and beach clean-ups all part of the community spirit. “I love being able to swim, SUP or surf in the ocean all before my workday starts,” says another resident. The outdoor lifestyle isn’t only focussed on the beach, however. “Big Bay is surrounded by nature conservation areas, Blouberg “koppie” offers hiking and cycling trails and has eland and other buck and wild animals that can be viewed,” she says. The conservation area ensures that the city cannot spread beyond Big Bay, preserving its connection to nature, a newly completed feature being the cycling and running lane that runs along the road through the unspoilt stretch of endangered dune strandveld all the way to Melkbosstrand. “The lifestyle here is hard to beat,” she concludes, “it’s a privilege to have all this on our doorstep.”
I love being close to the sea, and the greenery of Blaauwberg Nature Reserve. I love the fact that you can take the dogs for a walk among the most beautiful scenery, and feel safe doing this, and that people stop and greet you. I feel like I am on holiday, everyday!
Shirley Beier, resident
- The Daily Coffee: breakfast
- Big Bay Waffle Company: the best waffles
- Saints Burger Joint: burgers and pizza
- Primi: pizzas and pasta
- On The Rocks: elegant seafood and great views
- Blue Peter: sundowners on the lawn and pizzas
- Eden on the Bay: Pick n Pay, surf shops, clothing, lifestyle stores and services
- Seaside Village: Checkers, Woolworths Food, services and restaurants
- Table Bay Mall: fashion and major high-street retailers
- Bayside Mall: high-street shopping, boutiques and movies
- Surfing training from beginners’ lessons to professional level
- Kite-surfing: home to the annual Red Bull King of the Air competition
- Nature hikes in Blaauwberg Nature Reserve
- Beach time from dog-walks to boogie boards and sandcastles
- Golf at Atlantic Beach Golf Club