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Kalk Bay: Charming, but dear

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Kalk Bay has it all, with fresh fish, great restaurants, views to die for, tidal pools, interesting shops and proximity to malls and schools, but it does not come cheap.

Translanted from Afrikaans, Kalk Bay means “Lime Bay”, a reference to the mussel shells found there, which early settlers burned to make lime for construction. 

At first glance, Kalk Bay looks like one of those places where time has stood still – a freeze-frame village of sun-bleached Edwardian villas, apartments with ocean view balconies, salty beachfront eateries and a colourful fishing harbour.

But there is nothing sleepy about it. Home to a multicultural community that includes actors, artists, authors, chefs, musicians, poets and potters as well as fishermen, hoteliers, restaurateurs and shopkeepers, this is one of Cape Town’s most vibrant and exciting suburbs – and a tourist magnet.

Places of interest in Kalk Bay

On the False Bay coast between St James and Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay was a whaling station, and then a fishing hamlet housing many Spanish, Filipino and Malaysian immigrants.

In the 1880s it became a fashionable holiday retreat for affluent Capetonians and in the 1960s it gained renown for resisting the Group Areas Act as the only “mixed-race” town in South Africa.

Main Road in Kalk Bay, home to many shops and restaurants. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Today, it is part of greater Cape Town and offers residents a lifestyle second to none, says John Silva, a long-time resident and area specialist for the Chas Everitt International property group.

“We enjoy whale-watching in the bay from July to November, buying freshly caught fish for dinner and browsing in the fascinating shops down the Main Road.

“As a resident, you can also pick the quiet times to visit Kalk Bay’s amazing variety of restaurants, go hiking in the mountains behind the village or enjoy the walking route along the shore to Muizenberg.”

There are tidal pools at Dalebrook and The Brass Bell that are regularly cleaned and limed, and Kalk Bay even has its own dinner-theatre space.

An overview of Kalk Bay properties. Two-bedroom cottages start at around R3.5m. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Access to the Cape Town CBD is easy via the commuter train line that runs from the city to Simon’s Town, or via the newly-upgraded Main Road (M5). There is a good selection of schools in Kalk Bay and down the road in Fish Hoek.

For groceries and other necessities, the Arcade shopping centre in Fish Hoek and the Longbeach Mall in Sun Valley are not far away.

There is always demand for property in the area, and a perennial shortage of homes for sale underpins prices. “Once people do become owners here, they seldom want to leave,” says Silva. “According to property data company Lightstone, more than 50% of homeowners in Kalk Bay have lived there for 11 years or more.”

There are strict controls over development, and what alterations can be made to Kalk Bay’s historic buildings and homes, although many have been renovated inside with modern bathrooms and kitchens.

The original Majestic and New Kings hotels overlooking the harbour were redeveloped some years ago into Majestic Village, a complex of sought-after apartments where a two-bedroom unit recently sold for more than R6 million.

Homes on sale range from around R2.4m for one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartments up to R14m for a historic four-bedroom mansion on the Main Road. Two-bedroom cottages start at around R3.5m and three-bedroom homes at R6.3m.

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