Simon’s Town Royal Naval Base and Museum in Cape Town
Originally, this historical town was named “Simon’s Vlek” after the Dutch governor, Simon van der Stel, between the years 1677 & 1699. In 1687, he declared the bay to be a safe winter harbour, and it was eventually proclaimed as such in 1741.
Located on the shores of False Bay, on the east side of the Cape Peninsula, Simon’s Town rises above its naval harbour and up the steep mountain sides. Simon’s Town grew rapidly after becoming a Royal Naval Base and home to the South Atlantic Squadron in 1806. The squadron was responsible for the care of Napoleon Bonaparte while he lived in exile on St. Helena Island – 1200 miles from shore, in the South Atlantic Ocean. Also said to have stepped ashore from his ship in the late 1770’s, a certain Admiral Lord Nelson was allegedly nursed through an illness on his first visit to the Cape (long before it was occupied by the British). During the Second World War, over 300 ships were repaired here and the modern Selborne dry-dock as well as Simon’s Town Harbour was completed by 1910.
Come see the statue of Able Seaman Just Nuisance, the only dog to ever be enlisted in the Royal Navy, in Jubilee Square. The famous Great Dane was a favourite of sailors’ in the town, and so they requested the British parliament to have the dog enlisted in the Navy. The dog was taken to the Recruiting Officer after permission was granted and the officer inquired: “Name?” The sailor replied, “Nuisance, Sir”. “First name?” asked the officer. “Just Nuisance, Sir,” stated the sailor; giving birth to this legendary animal.
Author/playwright Edgar Wallace served at the Dutch East India Company Hospital as an orderly in the late 1890’s. The town boasts several museums: Simon’s Town Museum features historical events in the Simon’s Town development through the centuries; the South African Naval Museum, situated in the Mast House next to the Simon’s Town Museum, consists of ship models & related maritime happenings; the Heritage Museum located in Amlay House, features many Muslim aspects; while nearby stands a stunning Mosque.
Boulders Beach, situated a few kilometres south of Simon’s Town, is recognised as one of the Cape’s best beaches; its renowned the world over as the home of one of the 3 South African penguin colonies – the African (Jackass) Penguins.
Simons Town boasts the ultimate in Cape Town accommodation including B&B’s, Self Catering, Hotels, Backpackers and Camping. With stunning views of the most beautiful landscape, Simon’s Town is within easy driving distance of Cape Town International Airport. The village is rich in history, character, atmosphere and warmth. Its neighbours are whales, penguins and seals with world heritage status bird life, fishing and the beauty of Table Mountain and Cape Point.
Simon’s Town and all that it holds, is a must-see for Cape Town Visitors.
Bertha’s Restaurant boasts amazing views across the harbour and False Bay; fronting the old Town Pier, it is located on the absolute water- edge position, in Simons Town’s very heart.
How to get to Simon’s Town from the Airport: (+ – 45/50 mins)
Take the N2 highway in the direction of Cape Town.