Simon’s Town was named after the Dutch Governor Simon van der Stel and was first used by the Dutch East India Company as its winter anchorage. It offered safety from the dangerous storms in Table Bay. Simon’s Town was also the British Royal Navy base from 1814 until 1957, when it was handed over to the South African Navy.
The South African Navy continues to use the town as its coastal headquarters and it still retains a very strong naval character.
Adventure And Sport
Beaches: The beaches are the main attraction in summer, particularly Boulders Beach that, together with Foxy Beach, is home to one of only two mainland jackass penguin
breeding colonies. To visit this area, park at Seaforth and walk along the bridle path. Amidst
massive granite boulders are a succession of sandy inlets, which give access to several
shallow pools. It is also a good diving spot. Boulders Beach offers safe swimming for children
and is an ideal location for inexperienced snorkellers. Seaforth Beach also offers safe
swimming and a wooden raft and water slide provides fun for the entire family.
Fishing: To stay near False Bay is any fisherman’s dream. Choose between rock-, surf- and boat-angling.
Entertainment And Shopping
Waterfront: The centre in St George’s Street offers shopping and entertainment and an interesting mix of shops. It lies against the magnificent backdrop of the False Bay Yacht Basin. Enjoy a lovely lunch at one of the restaurants and look out over the basin or go for a cruise to Cape Point or Seal Island on the Cape of Good Hope catamaran.
Fauna And Flora
Jackass Penguin Breeding Colony: One of the few land-breeding colonies of jackass penguins can be found near Simon’s Town. As you walk along the beach footpath, you can see nesting jackass penguins in the brush and often, while sitting on the beach or swimming, you may have a close encounter with these little creatures.
History And Architecture
Admiralty House: The site of the house dates from 1720 when the first building, the home of Antoni Visir, the founder of the town, was erected here.
Albertyn’s Cottage, a typical early English-style building, lies near Cole’s Point and was built in 1799.
Dido Valley Cemetery: The cemetery in Main Road is the last resting place of many naval officers and other seamen. They lie in the military section on the south side of the cemetery.
East Dockyard Gates marks the entrance to the dockyard via Cole Point Road. The dockyard was officially opened in 1910.
Historic Mile: Along St George’s Street, many quaint old buildings and museums are a reminder of Simon Town’s naval history. Twenty-one of these buildings are over 150 years old.
Ibeka: This building in Cornwall Street was built in 1816 as a private home, but was later used as an isolation hospital, a boarding school and as quarters for the Royal Garrison Artillery.
Just Nuisance: A statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance stands in Jubilee Square. This is a tribute to a Great Dane, a dog that was a loyal companion to many sailors during the Second World War, even escorting drunken sailors on the train from Cape Town to Simon’s Town. This beloved dog was officially inducted into the Royal Navy with the rank of Able Seaman and on his death in 1943, was buried with full naval honours.
Martello Tower: The tower in Martello Road was built in 1796 to defend the Cape against the French during the Napoleonic wars. Today it houses a museum of maritime history.
Noorul Islam Museum: The museum is dedicated to the history of the Islamic people who spent their lives in the town.
Roman Rock Lighthouse: This is the third oldest lighthouse in South Africa and is the only lighthouse to have been built on a rock. This lighthouse was commissioned in 1861 and can be seen at the entrance to Simon’s Town Harbour.
SA Naval Museum: The building in Court Road that houses the museum was built in 1814 as a mast house and sail loft. The museum displays full-size minesweeper and submarine dioramas, as well as ship models and naval relics.
Simon’s Town Museum: The building that houses the museum was built in 1777 as a residence for the then Governor. In its lifetime it has seen many uses – a hospital, customs house, police station, post office and magistrate’s office. It is said that the museum has its own ghost and visitors can view the original slave quarters and a mystery mural. The museum focuses on the cultural history of the town and lies in Court Road.
Stempastorie: The building is located at 2 Church Street and earned its name from the fact that Rev. ML de Villiers composed the music for the South African national anthem “Die Stem” (The Voice) here. Today, the museum displays all sorts of national emblems.
St Francis Church: The Church of St Francis in Court Road, off St George’s Street, is reputed to be the oldest existing Anglican Church in South Africa. The church was first named St Frances, after Lady Frances Cole who raised most of the funds to build the church. Enjoy a spiritual experience in this quietly devotional and historical atmosphere.
Warrior Toy Museum: Located in St George’s Street, the museum exhibits a unique collection of toy cars, trains, aeroplanes, dolls and lead soldiers enjoyed by children throughout the ages.
The Scratch Patch in Simon’s Town offers visitors an opportunity to pick their own choice of gemstones from the hundreds of thousands that cover the floor.