If you have ever thought that you may want to visit Cape Town then making a stop at the historical Cape Point should be on your bucket list. With loads of history, fun for the kids and views for miles you won’t be disappointed with this stop. Take a half day trip to Cape Point along one of the most scenic routes with a professional tour guide and learn all there is know about this South African gem.
A little history of Cape Point and the Cape of Storms
Cape Point has had a long and colourful history and was named the “Cape of Storms” by the Portuguese traveler, Bartolomeu Dias in 1448. The point was treated with great respect by sailors because of its treacherous seas. By day it was a navigational point and by night it wreaked havoc for many ships because of thick fog, violent storms and dangerous rocks. There have been many shipwrecks over the years and on your way up to the lighthouse, you can stop and read about these wrecks.
Prince Henry was desperate to find a sea route to the East and this is how Cape Point was first found. However, it was the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias who was the first to round the peninsula in 1448.
In 1849 the first lighthouse was completed and it still stands there today, but it was too low down and the fog often obscured it’s light. It stands 238 meters (just over 780 feet) above sea-level. This lighthouse is still used today as a centralized monitoring point for all the lighthouses on the coast of South Africa.
The second lighthouse was built in 1914 and is still one of the most powerful on the South African coast. It emits three flashes every thirty seconds and revolves. If you are brave enough you can walk along the path to this lighthouse and get a closer look.
#FUNFACT: John Allen was the light-keeper in the 1930s and was supplied with the wrong size mantle for his gas lamp. This meant that the automatic light-flashing machinery could not be used. For three nights Allen and his assistants sat taking turns with the hand switch to control the flash – two seconds on, eight seconds off.
Why should you visit Cape Point?
You may be thinking that three and a half hours out of your day seems like a waste of time, but the views that you see from the lighthouse are something that poets couldn’t describe. The Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet in the vast expanse of sea in front of you and you may think that you’ll see the sudden change in the colour of the sea. What lies in front of you is pure magic and beauty – something that you can’t see anywhere else. Aside from the views that go on for days, there are a number of paths that you can walk on to different look out points.
What else can you do at Cape Point?
Views aside, there are a number of other activities for you to enjoy on your day at Cape Point:
- The Two Oceans Restaurant – This restaurant may have one of the best views in South Africa, which is only topped by its fresh seafood. This restaurant has been consistently voted as one of the Top 10 Restaurants in Cape Town. If you want to take in the views as well as the superb food of this restaurant you do need to book in advance, don’t miss out on this opportunity as the restaurant fills up with both locals and tourists.
- The Cape Point Logo Shop – The Cape Point Logo Shop has something for everyone and visitors will find t-shirts and fleece tops, caps and hats, teaspoons and mugs all branded with the Cape Point Logo. Your visit to this historic place will remain a fond memory for years to come.
- The Cape Point Parks Shop – Because Cape Point is situated within the Table Mountain National Park, which is packed with natural beauty and the diversity of the floral kingdom, it is celebrated throughout this store. Visitors will be able to purchase bath and body products made from our uniquely African rooibos and aloe, or take home your very own protea seeds. South Africans are extremely proud of their heritage so you will find locally made ceramics and cloth in beautiful bright colours here.
- The Lighthouse Five – Cape Point has a great deal of history behind it so this stop echoes the maritime history. This shop has a distinct nautical feel with rich dark woods and polished brass fittings where visitors can buy ship wheels or brass bells. Take an intricate replica of an old sailing ship home with you or an ostrich egg that that has been decorated with old maps. The Lighthouse Five has something for everyone and your kids won’t be disappointed with the range of soft and cuddly marine toys or even a shark tooth necklace.
- The Flying Dutchman – The Flying Dutchman has a history behind is that is both eerie and gripping. It was iconized in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but Cape Point has it’s very own Flying Dutchman. It is a legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever. Although the myth originated around the 17th Century through nautical folklore, there have been said to be sightings of this ghostly ship in the 19th and 20th centuries with its glowing ghost-like light. The ominous meaning behind this phantom ship is that of doom and gloom. Cape Point is known for its treacherous seas and sailors felt the presence of this ghostly ship often. But don’t worry, the Flying Dutchman at Cape Point today is there to shorten your walk up to the lighthouse with a quick trip in the tram. The Flying Dutchman is also wheelchair and friendly and accessible.
Cape Point should be on your South African bucket list because it’s on most South Africans’ bucket lists. You can visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope with City Pass.