Muizenberg and Kalk Bay – Beach Towns in the Western Cape South Africa

We stayed in Muizenberg for most of our trip to South Africa as we were doing the IVHQ surfing volunteer program (see our IVHQ post for more info on the surfing program) . Muizenberg is about 20-30 minutes south of Cape Town and it is known for its surfing. It is a small beach town with a few surf shops and restaurants. The beach is always packed with people surfing at all times of the day. Along the beach there is a long line of colorful beach huts which are iconic to the town.

Muizenberg has a great, relaxed beach town feel to it. People are always walking into the shops and restaurants right off the beach in wet suits, swim suits and flip flops. You can see the Muizenberg mountains from the beach and from pretty much wherever you are in the town. Since you are on the coast the weather is much cooler in Muizenberg than in Cape Town and there is always a pretty strong breeze. Although it is a bit of a drive outside of Cape Town it is a nice place to stay for a few days, especially if you are looking to surf.

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Surfing in Muizenberg

We surfed twice per day while we were volunteering with IVHQ, but if you are just there for a visit you can rent boards just across the street from the beach. Multiple surf shops in the town rent for pretty reasonable rates (wetsuits and boards). One thing to note is that there are Great White sharks in the bay and while sightings in the surfing area is rare it can happen. There is an organization called Shark Spotters: https://sharkspotters.org.za that keep a look out from the mountains and there is a flag and siren warning system to communicate conditions to the surfers/swimmers. There were no warnings the whole week we were there and honestly once you’re in the water you kind of forget about it.

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Places to Eat & Drink in Muizenberg:

  • Live Bait for a nice seafood dinner and a view of the beach. This restaurant is on the second story of a building along the beach so it offers great views from the large windows in the dining room.
  • Tiger’s milk for sit down burgers/pub food
  • Easy Tiger for more fast food/quick burgers on the go
  • Bootlegger Coffee Company for the best espresso in the mornings. We walked here every morning and then sat on the beach to watch the waves while drinking our coffee.
  • Lagerchinos – inexpensive drinks and pub food. Nice outdoor seating for a beer after a day on the waves
  • The Striped Horse – Bar with good live music
  • Rolling Wood Surf & Skate – This is a place that was introduced to us by another volunteer the first day. It is a little surf shop that sells really cool boards but also has coffee and some of the best carrot cake we’ve ever had – don’t miss it!
  • Blue Bird Garage & Food Market- we headed to this market with some of the other volunteers on the first day we arrived. It is full of people selling crafts and food/drink venders selling some amazing food! The market is open every Sunday.

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About 10-15 minutes from Muizenberg is Kalk Bay. This is a small beach town with more shops and restaurants- more of a vacation town feel than Muizenberg with a lot more shopping if that’s what your looking for. The streets are lined with small shops selling clothing, crafts, furniture and antiques.

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Places to Eat & Drink in Kalk Bay:

  • Olympia Cafe- great coffee and great food. We recommend trying the mussels. They were some of the largest mussels we have ever had!
  • The Brass Bell- this place has a wonderful beach view and a small walled off tidal “pool” area where you can swim in the ocean. This is surrounded by large boulders that you can walk out on when the tide is low. We ate here twice just for the view and the food was also great. On Wednesday nights this restaurant turns into a huge Karaoke bar. We did go to Karaoke night with the other volunteers one night at the Brass Bell (the IVHQ volunteers go every week). Be prepared for a crazy, college bar night experience if you go on Wednesday night.

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Links to our other South Africa posts:

-TFWY

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IVHQ Surf Outreach: Volunteer Program in Muizenberg South Africa

We were first drawn to Cape Town because we had friends who were living there at the time and wanted to visit before they moved back to the U.S. After doing some research we found a surf outreach volunteer program in the Cape Town area through IVHQ.  As a volunteer your time is spent teaching and supervising kids as they are participating in an after school surf program. We decided to volunteer for a week and then give ourselves a few days after our volunteer program to visit our friends, explore more of Cape Town and to of course do some wine tasting.

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IVHQ/Dreams to Reality Surf Program

The surf program is based in Muizenberg which is about 20-30 minutes south of Cape Town. Muizenberg is a small beach town known for its surfing. The local organization in the Cape Town area is called Dreams to Reality. There are several volunteer programs offered in the Cape Town area; other programs included childcare, teaching, and sports development. We thought Dreams to Reality was a very well run organization that did a good job focusing on the relationships between the kids and volunteers. When we arrived we were picked up at the airport by another volunteer and taken to the house we would be staying at. There are several bedrooms in the volunteer house, each with 4-5 beds. We had people from several of the other volunteer programs in our house. There are several volunteer houses in Muizenberg, all within walking distance of each other so you get a chance to meet a lot of the other volunteers. The other volunteers are awesome. This program was a great way to meet a bunch of people from around the world some of whom we still stay in touch with.

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The first full day we were provided a walking tour of Muizenberg to help familiarize us with the area. We were also given a walking tour of Cape Town and offered several tours through a local tour company- CapeXtreme. We did not book any tours with them so cannot recommend or not recommend them. They did do a nice job of showing us around Cape Town for the afternoon. The tour was more of a brief overview of the city, nothing very in-depth.  We chose to stay after the tour was over and explore more on our own. You can read our Cape Town Essentials post for more details on what to do in the City.

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Before this trip Erika had never surfed and Ryan had done one lesson. You do not have to know how to surf to join this program but you do need to know how to swim. Both of us swam in college so we figured this program would be a good fit for us. The first day you are given a quick surfing lesson by the instructor and given time to work on your surfing. Each day consists of two sessions, one AM session where you get to surf with the other volunteers. The afternoon session is when the kids come and they get to surf. Most of the kids in the program while we were there were already very good at surfing. As a volunteer your job is to help the kids get their wet suits on and walk to the beach. Once everyone is at the beach your job is to help keep an eye on all the kids and help out wherever needed. That may mean you get to help push the kids into the bigger waves, help some of the younger kids learn to surf or just play in the water. After surfing everyone walks back to the surf shop and the kids get a meal. Some of the volunteers will be helping kids clean and hang up the wet suits, others will be serving up a simple meal. After the kids eat the volunteers clean up and the kids are picked up and brought home. The program is working to give kids from a local township a good activity to do after school, to learn social skills and responsibility. The leader of the Surf program did a really nice job of relating to the kids and served as a great role model for the program.

When the kids aren’t in school (during holiday break for example) the times the kids come in may change and on some days they may go to a local park and play basketball or play beach games pending weather conditions and the conditions of the waves.

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Check out the IVHQ website for the most up to date lists of programs they offer as they are always adding new opportunities. We would strongly recommend if you do a volunteer trip that you volunteer for more than one week. We are lucky that one week was the minimum requirement needed so that we could do this trip since our time off was limited but it is really difficult to really get to know the kids when you only volunteer for one week. The first day of the week you do spend all day in an orientation so you actually only get to volunteer 4 days if you are there for a week. At the bare minimum two weeks would be our recommendation so you can do orientation, get your bearings and also have some time to actually connect with the kids you are there to help.

Link to the IVHQ website: https://www.volunteerhq.org/volunteer-in-south-africa/

Here is the link to our other South Africa posts

-TFWY