Words: Kit Heathcock Images: Supplied & Google Maps
From select Victorian and Edwardian seaside resort, to surfer’s paradise, Muizenberg life has always centred on its long sandy beach, the child-friendly waves, and warm waters of False Bay a compelling attraction. Over the last few years a major revamp of the beach-front and historic mile of Main Road has re-energised the whole area, restoring tired facades and public areas, the regeneration spreading back into the side streets and old centre, where little cafes, shops and bakeries create a bohemian vibe.
Textile designer David Bellamy chose the area back in 1996 for its European seaside character, the warm-water swimming beach, the estuary now visited by flamingos, the eponymous mountain and Silvermine Nature Reserve behind. “I think the quality of life is very high, especially for anyone with a bouncy young dog who needs three walks a day.”
Having lived in Muizenberg for 30 years, Glendyr Dade cannot think of anywhere else she’d rather be. “Where else would I find a community such as ours? We care for each other and are integrated across colour, culture and ages. We have a magnificent mountain to hike on, a beautiful vlei to paddle in, and the ocean to swim, surf, body-board, and fish.”
Properties range from one- or two-bedroom apartments and cottages, to grand seaside villas from a bygone era. A rich architectural heritage from its days as a glamorous seaside resort includes houses designed by architect Herbert Baker, Victorian and Edwardian cottages and houses, and substantial 1930s villas. Modern times have added low-rise apartment buildings, retirement villages and Mediterranean-style houses around the waterways of Marina da Gama.
“Muizenberg is the perfect place for all ages, starting out or slowing down,” says Glendyr. “It’s family orientated with shops, schools, beach and restaurants all within walking distance of wherever you live.” She appreciates the warm and supportive community with loads of volunteer organisations making a difference with everything from security to shark-spotting and beach clean-ups.
Muizenberg has its own public primary and high schools, a Montessori school and selection of pre-primary options. Other popular options in the “Deep South” include Bay Primary in Kalk Bay, Sun Valley Primary in Noordhoek, Imhoff Waldorf School and the Fish Hoek public schools. It’s also within easy driving distance of the prestigious Southern Suburbs schools along the M3 or M5.
Surfers Corner is the place to go for the Muizenberg beach vibe, iconic colourful beach huts, surf lessons, surf shops, coffee and seafood. “What I love about Muizenberg from a surfer’s perspective is that it really is the surf nursery of SA,” says Roxy Davis of Surf Emporium. “It’s the perfect learn-to-surf beach – warm water, easy, accessible, gentle. There’s something for every day of the week. Depending on the waves I can take out my long-board, SUP or short-board.”
Surf Emporium also has a collaboration with the yacht club to SUP in the estuary, surrounded by bird-life and nature. And if the kids have ever had enough of the beach, the Muizenberg waterslide park is popular for birthday parties together with the putt-putt next door.
The old Victorian streets of the town centre to Palmer Road are worth exploring for quirky, individual shops and cafes, or meander along the coastal Main Road for old-world grandeur at Casa Labia and history at the Rhodes Cottage Museum. Walking along the Muizenberg catwalk to St James, you get views of the historical mile across the train tracks as well as the perfect opportunity for whale and dolphin spotting. Other easy walks can be found around the shores of Zandvlei with all its bird life and watersports. Or head up to Silvermine Nature Reserve for easy and more challenging hiking.
I like the mixed communities that live here, the easy access to a range of outdoor activities, and the bohemianism that still weaves through the community. It’s quite a roomy place to live. In addition there are three artisan bakeries between my house and the sea!”
David Bellamy, bbellamy & bbellamy.
- Bluebird Food Market: every Friday
- Live Bait: seafood with a prime beach view
- Tigers Milk: a trendy young vibe
- Lagerchinos: the best pizzas and a great place to watch the rugby
- The Empire Café: lunches
- Bombay Chili: curries to rival Goa
- Oroboros: a sophisticated Soho bar vibe
- Surf Emporium Surf and Stand Up Paddle Board shop and school
- The Corner Surf Shop: surf wear, boards and bikinis
- Rolling Wood Surf and Skate store: wooden surf boards and skateboards plus coffee and juice bar
- Gary’s Surf School: surf lessons
- Surfstore Africa: kitesurfing gear and lessons
- Lifestyle Surf Shop: surf gear and lessons
- Muizenberg Water Slides: kids’ water fun and birthday parties
- The beach: surfing, SUP, and family beach play
- Learn to sail at the Imperial Yacht Club on Zandvlei
- Ceramics and classes with ceramicist Tessa Gawith at the Pot Spot
- Casa Labia cultural centre: concerts, art classes, lectures and more