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Simon’s Town: A ship-shape town

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Simon’s Town has it all: history, watersports, charm, houses with fabulous views, a low crime rate and prices among the most affordable for coastal property

A small dockyard was built in Simon’s Town by the Dutch East India Company in 1743, and was later handed over to the British Royal Navy. It grew over the centuries, and in 1957 the naval base was handed to the South African Navy, and is its main base. The earliest Royal Navy building on the site, dating from 1815, serves as the South African Naval Museum.

Under the National Party’s apartheid regime, Simon’s Town was declared a white group area in 1967 and hundreds of families who had lived there for centuries were forcibly removed to Ocean View – then nothing but undeveloped land near Kommetjie – and later Mitchell’s Plain, which was built in the 1970s.

Simon’s Town is about 40km from central Cape Town on the way to Cape Point Nature Reserve. It is accessible from the other direction through Scarborough and Misty Cliffs. It is on the False Bay coast, with its harbour protected from ocean swells by a breakwater built from sandstone blocks quarried from the mountain behind.

The view of the Simon’s Town Harbour from Runciman Drive. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

Most of the town rises steeply above the harbour up the mountainside and homes are close to the harbour, beaches and waterfront, and many have sea and mountain views.

For the most part, Simon’s Town has escaped large-scale commercialisation and retained a quaint charm.

But changes are happening: Harbour Bay, comprising 44 prime sectional title units priced from R2.7million, is sold out.

A new shopping centre will open soon with anchor stores including Woolworths, Pick * Pay and Clicks. There will also soon be a new 20-bed day hospital and ER.

Simon’s Town dock yard viewed from Glencairn. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA

The waterfront area overlooking the naval base and yacht basin is a wonderful meeting place for residents and holiday makers, who are also close to the attractions of Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay and surfing in Muizenberg.

Just 2km from Simon’s Town is Boulders Beach with its colony of African penguins.

October 7 is African Penguin Awareness Day. This is when the 15th annual Penguin Festival will be held at Simon’s Town Navy Sportsfield, in collaboration with SANParks and Table Mountain National Park.

The day is dedicated to raising worldwide awareness about the plight of the endangered African penguin, the only penguin endemic to the African continent.

While prices have risen over the past few years, Simon’s Town remains one of the most affordable coastal spots in the country, say Seeff agents Lola Casey and Andrea Booth, and there is high demand for holiday rentals and Airbnb bookings.

“It is also popular for retirement buyers. In recent years, many buyers semigrating from other provinces also find the lifestyle and excellent value for money outstanding,” says Casey.

Booth says: “It’s very affordable for such a beautiful coastal location, and vacant land – with sea views – is still available for under R1m. Apartments begin from just more than R1m and freestanding homes from R2m.”

Simon’s Town offers an affordable, upmarket and trendy seaside lifestyle with less bustle than some places yet is as stunning as some of the most popular coastal areas, say the agents.

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