The Cape is a mountainous region surrounded by the ocean so it’s no surprise that we have some stunning coastal roads winding their way around mountains, linking suburbs and towns, and giving users magnificent views around every curve. These four beautiful coastal roads are among the favourites – dramatic mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Drivers have difficulty paying attention to the road with such beauty to look at but you’re in luck because we do the driving and you do the viewing. We promise to stop as often as possible for photographs.
The first three of our four beautiful coastal roads are part of our Cape Point and Table Mountain day tours and the last road is part of our Overberg Tour but it’s close enough to Cape Town to do after doing our Winelands tour.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Considered by many travellers as one of the most beautiful roads in the world, this is an exhilarating 9km and 114 curves of one breathtaking view after another between Hout Bay and Noordhoek.
The peak in the centre is a mandatory stop and walking a few steps up to the look-out point is an absolute must to get a bird’s eye view of the road and Hout Bay in the distance.
It took 7 years to build, using prison convicts (and not POWs as is often incorrectly thought). It was a tough job with many rock falls, unruly labour and crude machinery but was finally opened in 1922. The drive was closed for several years in early 2000, after many rock fall accidents, while the road was repaired an special measures taken to prevent falling rocks from hitting the road, with giant nets and a tunnel in one especially difficult section.
The narrow winding road and sheer drops to the ocean make this a road to take in at a leisurely pace and there are several perfect places to pull over and enjoy the view.
A few kilometres after Pringle Bay, just when you think you’ve left the coast behind, suddenly the road dips and if you’re not expecting it you will be stunned at the abrupt sight of the ocean as you enter the tiny village of Rooi Els. You have started the magnificent 20 km journey known as Clarence Drive.
With panoramic views of the Table Mountain range across False Bay all the way to Cape Point, this undulating drive has many spots along the way to pull over and enjoy the view or have a swim and a picnic. Sunsets viewed from here are a photographer’s delight, not only for the sun and the sky but the way the light changes the colour of the mountains behind you.
M65, Main Road between Kommetjie and Scarborough
In the ‘deep south’ of the Cape peninsula, close to Cape Point and far from almost anywhere else is this 9km drive known only as the M65 or Main Road – but it’s worthy of a special name. Perhaps the locals should think about that. The sea is almost always a deep turquoise so maybe it could be named along those lines.
This lovely mountain-hugging coastal road starts in Kommetjie, past Soetwater and Witsands, through the tiny hamlet of Misty Cliffs, so named because waves crashing against the cliffs cause sea spray which appears like mist from a distance and is almost always present. Then on to Scarborough with its gorgeous fynbos gardens and famous camel-shaped rock. Both Misty Cliffs and Scarborough are conservation villages with restricted development so we can expect this pristine area to remain that way for a long time.
This drive is a perfect precursor to what awaits the visitor at the end of the road – the Cape Point Nature Reserve with its majestic peaks and cliffs and beautiful beaches.
Less than 10 minutes from the city centre is the grand old Victoria Drive. This is an easy, wide, lovely curving road linking Camps Bay with the village of Hout Bay. There are several lovely stops along the way for picnics and a swim if you can brave the cold waters, and the 12 Apostles Hotel is the perfect place to have a sundowner.
Victoria Drive is of special interest to locals as it was the very last project of the genius road builder Thomas Bain who created some of the most spectacular and difficult mountain passes in the Western Cape.