Kalk Bay Main Road, Cape Town
Written by Karen Martin Illustration by Alex Latimer
A trendy and vibrant fishing village on the coast of False Bay, South Africa, Kalk Bay is nestled beautifully between ocean and mountain with spectacular views, whichever way you look at it.
“Kalk Bay is about 30km from Cape Town city centre, and there’s a train line that runs from the city centre, through Kalk Bay and beyond. The train line runs as close to the coast as you can get, so that’s one good way of seeing the place,” says South African illustrator Alex Latimer.
But you’ll want to get up close to explore Kalk Bay Main Road: a treasure trove of delis, restaurants, bars, antique stores, second-hand bookshops, fashion boutiques, jewellers, craft shops, and art galleries. Main Road runs parallel to the sea front, where you can watch the fishermen offload their catch and buy your supper straight from the boat; or organise a fishing charter or boat cruise.
“A nice walk along the pier is a good way to start the morning, to the little lighthouse at the end,” suggests Alex. “In July or August, whales come to Kalk Bay so you can see them from the pier, and there’s always a few big, lazy seals waiting for the fishermen to return.
“After that, maybe a coffee at Olympia Café & Deli, a little coffee shop where they do their own baking, and they’ve got a stunning view across the harbour.
“Then just take a stroll up the street, to the bookshops, clothing and jewellery shops, and antique dealers. Kalk Bay Books is a favourite.” Located in a beautiful stone building, once a sailors’ pub, the bookshop is lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with new books, magazines, and newspapers. Beyond the broad bar counter, through the arched windows, is, again, a breathtaking view of the Kalk Bay harbour. “The whole street is at the base of a mountain, and behind it is a nature reserve,” says Alex. “If you’ve got the time and the energy – just get up that mountain and explore it and maybe return back down for a well-deserved lunch; there’s a very nice place called the Brass Bell situated right by the sea – it’s a great place to grab a beer and a burger and enjoy the sun.
“For culture, there’s the Kalk Bay Theatre on the main road, which is in an old church. It’s not a very big theatre at all, it holds less than 100 people.” Built in 1876, this heritage-protected building has been lovingly converted into an intimate theatre with a restaurant on the upper floor.
“To end the perfect day, Polana is a nice bar where you can go for a drink in the evening. Set right on the rocks on the edge of the harbour, they’ve got a window out onto the sea, so during storms they get a lot of water through their window – which is quite an experience!
”If you’re lucky enough to visit during the annual Kalk Bay Fish Fare (held in February each year), you’ll find locals at stalls selling fish kebabs, seafood curries, mussel chowder, and local dishes such as braaied yellowtail, and so on, with live music and events. “It’s a great cultural experience,” says Alex. “You get a good sense of the community.”
Cape Town, South Africa
Illustrator Alex Latimer lives 10 minutes from Kalk Bay, and has been exploring the eateries, shopping, and culture on its Main Road and beyond, whilst enjoying the surrounding views for the last 15 years or so. “It’s very down to earth,” he says. “The fact that there’s the mountains behind, and the vegetation, which is unique to the area; I find the beauty of the place quite inspirational.”