All About Hout Bay

cph-abouthoutbay-1

As a coastal suburb of South Africa’s beautiful Cape Town, Hout Bay is around 20 km away from the “mother city”, and like the property in Cape Town, Hout Bay is as sought after as Sun City accommodation is. Its history began in the 1690s when the need for wood and lumber brought the Dutch to this coastal area. This is why when translated from Afrikaans, “hout” means “wood.”

When the search for wood began for the building of Cape Town, there were just 2 farms, namely Kronendal and Moddergat. As the demand for wood grew, a town began to form and the land was subdivided. Today, it still is considered a small town with 28 communities and a population of less than 50 000.

Where is Hout Bay?

Hout Bay contains some of the most sought after Cape Town property and is completely surrounded by mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Towards the north of Hout Bay is the famous Table Mountain National Park; the Oranjekloof is on the North West; the Sentinel, Kaptein’s Peak, and Little Lion’s Head is to the West; and Chapman’s Peak is on the East. To the South of Hout Bay is the ocean with its glorious white sand beaches, a yacht club, marina, and a busy fishing harbour. Much of Western Cape’s seafood, like snoek, tuna, and crayfish, come from this area.

One can only reach Hout Bay through 3 mountain roads. The most controversial of all 3 mountain roads today is the Chapman’s Peak Drive. It was opened in 2004 and a toll booth was established to charge for road usage much to the dismay and anger of many Hout Bay residents.

Dungeons and Surfing

Surfers’ fond name for Hout Bay is “The Dungeons.” This aptly refers to the huge waves in the popular bay which has been categorized as one of the 16 top surfing spots in the world. The swells in the area have been known to measure up to 14m and can be extremely dangerous for amateur surfers. Every year, the Red Bull Big Wave Africa tournament is held in Hout Bay and attracts hundreds of surfers from around the globe between the months of May and August.

Hout Bay earned its pseudonym, The Dungeons, from the fact that before the age of jet-skis, the only way to get to surfing territory was to pass through a dark channel.

The Microcosm of South Africa

Hout Bay has been called the microcosm or an apt representation of South Africa as diversity thrives here. In Hout Bay, the diversity is seen in the social fabric as poor and rich live in relative harmony.

The reality is that it isn’t the regular locals who are causing dissent among poor and rich. It’s more the informal settlers who came in the 1990s and now live in poor conditions with highly limited access to basic services (if any at all). These settlers are found in the Imizamo Yethu area or Mandela Park. Initially the settlers were a few thousand, but this number swelled to over 20 000 in 2010. Unfortunately, the river Disa beside this area has been declared the most polluted river in South Africa.

This situation has compelled the citizens to put up a neighbourhood watch and it has served Hout Bay in more ways than one. The people have come together to support common causes and events. Aside from crime, it has been able to encourage local tourism, promote business, and sustain livelihood in the area.