Western Cape DestinationsMelkbosstrand, Blaauwberg
Regarded as the start of the ever-growing-in-popularity Cape West Coast, Melkbosstrand is something of a village, although many regard it as a suburb of Cape Town given that it is a mere 35 kilometres outside of the city centre.
'Melkbos' literally translates as 'milk bush' and refers to the Euphorbiaceae bushes that grow on sand dunes here, called 'melkbos' by all those familiar with the milky latex substance the plant gives off. Whilst the village is closely tied to the romantic impression of white beaches, great seafood sold at local restaurants, and one of the most popular beaches for kitesurfing, it owes its existence to a thoroughly unromantic development – the Koeberg nuclear power station - built with the help of the British and the French 6 kilometres north of Melkbosstrand, which needed housing for foreign contractors.
Melkbosstrand is nonetheless an ideal and extremely pretty base from which to explore both Cape Town and the West Coast, particularly as the Durbanville winelands are close by and the Boland Mountains, offering a number of wonderful day trips through valleys hung with vines, blue skies for most of the year and mountains looming in the background.
The villages of Darling (think 'darling' town tucked in amongst vines and home to Evita se Perron; theatre you mustn't miss!), Malmesbury (the largest town in the Swartland known for its wine and grain farms), and even Riebeek-Kasteel and Riebeek-West if you're prepared to travel a little further, are all within easy range of Melkbosstrand and well worth the effort.