This quaint and colourful sea-side fishing village is only 30 minutes drive from Cape Town city centre, and it is hard to imagine that you are in one of South Africa’s largest cities when visiting Kalk Bay. Kalk in this way means “Chalk”, and that is because all the mussel shells used to be farmed here to make chalk. Today this place is most famous for boutique antique shops, a great local pub that’s also a train station, and the most famous fish and chip shop in the city.
No trip to Kalk Bay would be complete without a trip to the colourful Kalk Bay harbour itself. No 2 fishing boats look the same, and all the locals are selling their fresh catches straight from the boats to your hands. There is something homely about coming to a proper fish market and buying a fish straight from the hands of the person who caught it. If you don’t want to make the fish yourself, Kalky’s, the most famous fish and chip shop in Cape Town is in the harbour too. This place is an institution for fish and chips and beware on public holidays the line can have over 100 people in it. The main road of Kalky’s is easily accessible along the rail track, and there are some super interesting boutique stores offering everything from leather products, unique fashion, jewellery to beautifully painted portraits of famous people. A clear memory for most Capetonians would be walking down the main street of Kalk Bay with a nice cold ice-cream glancing at interesting pieces for sale in shop windows.
Kalk Bay Books doesn’t have the biggest collection of books, but the selection is expertly crafted and noteworthy. Lastly, the Brass Bell, a bar that’s also a train station, is a must-see in Kalk Bay. Locals will clutter the bar, the fish and chips and mussel pots are to die for and there often surfers right outside to watch while enjoying the view of False Bay.
If you have some extra time on your hands, it’s best to park in Muizenberg at the beach and just walk down the beach road enjoying some of St James’ old houses with majestic views. The Rhodes cottage is also found here and is well worth a quick visit, the museum is free and offers some insights into the life of Cecil John Rhodes, a much talked about figure in South Africa’s history.
The train from Cape Town city centre to Kalk Bay is fun but it is important to keep in mind that safety is sometimes an issue on local trains. It’s a fun journey though, and sometimes takes longer than expected, but the views on the False Bay side of the track are some of the best in the city. If you are making a day trip, an option would be to try to incorporate Kalk Bay as part of your Cape Point & Simon’s Town day. Cape Point National park is not far and gets busier as the day goes on. It’s best to start at the park early, and then make your way to Kalk Bay for lunch at Kalky’s or any other local spot on the way back to the city and the penguins in Simon’s Town are right in the middle between Cape Point National Park and Kalk Bay.