A Natural World Heritage Site, Cape Point is historic and, some even say, haunted. It is a birder’s rich escape and a botanist’s holy grail. It can seem absolutely fascinating to those with a keen eye, or, to the less curious, simply a finger of land jutting out into the ocean 60kms from Cape Town. Ultimately, though, it is one of nature’s great places. This is why.
The windiest place in South Africa
Cape Point is the windiest place in South Africa and experiences only 2% of all hours in the year with calm conditions. The average wind speed is 25 km/h with 42% of the wind speeds greater than 30 km/h.
The most South-Western point of the African continent
It was initially called the Cape of Storms due its devastating toll it took on the Portuguese explorers who attempted to round the Cape in the 1600s and 1700s. Eventually, however, it came to be seen in a different light. After the inhospitable Skeleton Coast of endless dunes and no water sources in Namibia, Cape Point became a symbol of hope. There was fresh water here and vegetables too, vital resources for the sailors. The chances of getting to India, their final destination, were now greatly improved. And so the Portuguese king renamed it Cabo da Boa Esperança, the Cape of Good Hope.
A meeting of two oceans (sometimes)
Cape Point is famed as the meeting point of two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, (the restaurant at Cape Point is even called Two Oceans) but this is not technically correct. The currents of the two oceans meet at the point where the warm water Agulhas current meets the cold water Benguela current and turns back on itself—a point that fluctuates between Cape Agulhas and Cape Point.
The piercing, ice-blue water of Cape Point looks like it comes straight from the antarctic, and if you go for a dip it can feel like it too. These waters contain some of the world’s great fish and mammals. Stingrays, dolphins and seals often provide food for everyone’s favourite villain of the sea, the great white shark, which is common in this part of the world and the surrounding waters provide the stage for its famous breaching. Orcas, humpback whales and southern right whales also visit the surrounding bays.
Cape Point makes for a great day trip from Cape Town, as the hordes of tourists attest to. So arrive early to allow for easy access and limited waiting. The lighthouses and cliff faces are not the only attraction and a wide range of activities are on offer. You can picnic, hike, mountain bike, surf, kitesurf and even go on overnight hikes. A well-kept secret is that Cape Point has some of Cape Town’s best beaches and are a great idea in the busier summer months.
Lots of love