Hout Bay is a seaside town and bowl-shaped harbor in the Western Cape province of South Africa. The town is situated on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula 20 kilometres south of Cape Town. On the way from Cape Town to the Cape of Good in 2017, I stopped for a short cruise to Seal Island just off the entrance to Hout Bay. Seal Island is a haven for hundreds of frisky Cape Fur Seals.
Seal Island cruises depart from Hout Bay’s scenic yachting and fishing port. The cruise is very inexpensive although I don’t recall the exact price.
The island is called Seal Island but it seems about every island around the Cape boasts large Cape Fur Seal populations and are commonly referred to as Seal Island. For example Robben Island, the island in Cape Town’s Table Bay where Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner, translates as Seal Island.
Cape Fur Seals are sometimes referred to as the “dogs of the ocean” because of their curious and playful nature. Other than a boat ride, the only way to get closer to them is being in the water.
People can take a snorkeling tour and actually get in the water with the seals. I wouldn’t recommend it. At least not without a shark cage because Cape Fur Seals are a favorite meal for the Great White Sharks that frequent these waters. Adult males seals weigh up to 350 kg while females can grow to weigh 150 kg.
This is a short video from the cruise. Please take a look at the video because it brings the experience to life including a bit of the power of the waves.
The area around Hout Bay is world famous for big wave surfing. The annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa competition is held here in a spot called Dungeons. Swells as large as 47 feet (14.3 m) have been recorded there.
After the cruise, I continued towards the Cape of Good Hope along Chapman’s Peak Drive, a scenic, cliff-side road overlooking Hout Bay. Nets are installed on the mountain to protect motorists from rockfall.
In the photo below you can see waves breaking on Seal Island to my left just off the headland that forms the north side of the entrance to the bay.
Below – Hout Bay from Chapman’s Peak Drive.
The short cruise to Seal Island was a great way to safely get up close to hundreds of lively Cape Fur Seals. I highly recommend a stop in Hout Bay and the fur seal cruise if you are in the Cape Town area.