An important naval base for more than 200 years, Simon's Town is located on the shores of False Bay, not far from Cape Town, and is a popular tourist destination. The most popular attraction in Simon's Town is the penguin colony at Boulders Beach: one of only three mainland colonies of African penguins in the country.
Simon’s Bay is part of a string of charming and historic coastal towns on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula. (Other towns include Muizenberg and Kalk Bay.) Most visitors head straight for the penguins of Boulders Beach, but if you take a guided tour from Cape Town, you’ll be able to explore other attractions, such as Chapman’s Peak Drive, the Cape of Good Hope, and Hout Bay.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Simon’s Town is a must-visit for wildlife lovers.
- There is an admission fee to Boulders Beach.
- The walkways at the penguin colony are wheelchair-accessible.
- Other attractions in Simon’s Town include the South African Naval Museum and the British-built Martello Tower.
How to Get There
From Cape Town, it is a 40-minute drive to Simon’s Town. There is no public transportation that will get you all the way there, so if you don’t have a car, your best bet is to book a guided tour.
When to Get There
The best times to visit to see the penguins at Boulders Beach are early in the morning and evening when the penguins return from fishing out at sea. Boulders is a permanent colony, so penguins are present year-round, but they spend more time out at sea in September and October.
African Penguins are a classified endangered species, falling in numbers from 150,000 breeding pairs worldwide in 1956 to only 26,000 breeding pairs in 2011. Causes for their decline include habitat destruction, climate change, overfishing, and marine pollution. Since the Boulders Penguin Colony was established in 1983, numbers have steadily increased to reach 3,900 birds in 2005, but by 2011 their numbers had dwindled to around 2,100.