Smitswinkel Bay, False Bay

The secluded Smitswinkel Bay (also known as Smitswinkelbaai) lies hidden beneath the curve of the road that takes one to Cape Point Nature Reserve from Cape Town, a small bay reached only with some effort on foot, for it lies at the bottom of a steep cliff.

Itís the last place you reach before the nature reserve, and most people miss it, only aware of the bay out of the corner of their eye. Not only is it on the bend of the road but you cannot see the beach and the houses from the road, unless you stop, park at the little parking area to your right, and cross the road for the view (and what a view!).

If you think it looks difficult to reach the bottom at least there is an obvious foot path from the viewpoint past the ramshackle beach houses, to the bay. Back in the old days, Smits (as itís known by those who live here) was reached only by boat.

A few people have weekend homes here on the mountainside. The occasional person actually lives here. But it has remained very much undeveloped, and the houses ungentrified, largely because of its lack of accessibility and because if the residents had their way Smitswinkelbaai would be part of the nature reserve alongside.

There is no such thing as a street light here (why would you, if there are no roads?) and paraffin lamps and gas stoves predominate. Some people have either solar water heaters or solar panels on their roofs. And residents carry their gas canisters down on their backs. As they do their luggage and groceries.

Down the bottom is one of the prettiest beaches in the secluded bay, granite boulders littering the shoreline. Itís not really a swimming beach, although children have a whale of a time, and fishing is popular. When the tide comes in, you virtually have to leave the beach, for there is not much sand to begin with.

Bear in mind the uphill on the return and think twice before taking very young children, or the elderly, to the bottom, unless youíre prepared to carry them back.

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