V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Just walk in the streets - enjoy the bazars - pubs and restaurants - look at the people enjoying life. But the locals told me to be back at the hotel before dark - because than it CAN become dangerous for tourists !
Tip : take a local taxi or shuttle - for free and safe !
There are a variety of companies offering different cruises and tours. They are generally expensive by local standards, but then are primarily aimed toward tourists. I have given the name of one below.
You can do a variety of cruises:
- whale watching cruise
- sunset cruise
- Robben Island cruise
- eco cruises
- seal cruises
- cruise and dine cruises
- harbour cruises
- champagne cruises
- fishing trips
It is well worth a visit to this waterfront area. Not only is it where you must catch a boat for the infamous Robben Island, but you can also catch live music in the outdoor ampitheatre and a good lunch or dinner.
There are plenty of great rainy day activities here too, like shopping, Imax or visiting the aquarium. There was a handicraft market that I picked up some unique souveniers at.
The waterfront is new and bustling. From here you can get boats to robben island, ssunset cruises, sailing boats of any kind of trip invloving water!
It is safe 24 hours a day but the only bad point is that it is catered to tourists only and therefore everything is overpriced!
The restaurants are good value for an englishman though! there are a lot of street performers and a small amphitheatre. it sems to be the centre of everything for tourism, we went there virtually every day!
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in the historic heart of Cape Town's working harbour is South Africa's most-visited destination.
Situated between Robben Island and Table Mountain and set against a backdrop of sea and mountain views, it offers a variety of shopping and entertainment options to visitors, intermingled with office locations, hotels such as the historical Breakwater Lodge once a 19th century prison and luxury apartments in the residential marina.
It houses the Nelson Mandela Gateway which offers boat trips to Robben Island, as well as the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Prince Alfred, second son of Queen Victoria, began construction of the harbour in 1860. The first basin was named after himself, the second after his mother, hence the name.
Having been dropped off at the V & A Waterfront at about 3pm, there is enough stores/cafes/bars to keep you busy the remainder of the day. There are several cafes with outdoor seating, including Quay 4, to enjoy a quick snack while overlooking the harbor. The mall inside has great shopping and a fantastic wine shop. After a few hours of shopping, there are several good restaurants for a nice dinner and then into one of several bars in the area.
One of Cape Town's biggest tourist attractions, the Waterfront evokes images of the early activities of the harbour. Much of its charm lies in the fact that this busy commercial harbour is set in the midst of a huge entertainment venue with pubs, restaurants, specialty shops, craft markets, theatres and movies
I don't know whether I love or hate this, but it's certainly an eye catching addition to the landscape of the V& Waterfront.
Apparently the crates symbolise the saving in plastic usage resulting from some of Coca Cola's environmental initiatives, which has to be a good thing. Whether this is best expressed by constructing a 20m high red robot made out of crates is a matter for debate ...
Our daughter had booked this cruise to end a lovely day of wine touring! We got back to our hotel and got dressed up to hit the V&A Waterfront to chill out on our boat trip and have a nice dinner afterwards on the waterfront.
What we had in mind and what actually happened are two different things!
We got onto our boat and after about ten mins we started to move out of the harbour. Remembering I'm petrified of water, I can't swim but love boat trips as long as they are calm! As soon as we came out of the harbour the boat started to bob about quite a bit and I noticed the sea was not exactly calm. The further we sailed out the worse it got, and it got to the point that we were all hanging on for dear life and the boat was almost capsizing. Everyone started to laugh about it at first, especially when the waves were coming over and getting us soaked to the skin. I have to say this boat trip was the most frightening experince of my life. I really thought we were going to fall into the sea at some point. My husband who found it quite amusing at first started to get a bit worried, and told the guys to turn the boat around as it was getting too dangerous. The thing was, we had no life jackets on, nothing to hold onto only each other. We were given waterproof ponchos when it started to get really rough but by then we were soaked anyway.
I was given the impression by the leaflet and by the look of the boat we'd just sail out for a while and just cruise along, watching the sunset, drinking a glass of champagne. Instead I started fearing for us all. The guys would not take the boat back to the harbour but just brought it in a bit so it wasn't so dangerous. We had a good twenty mins or so being chucked around the boat, which was very frightening.
I wanted to complain when we eventually got off the boat, to the people that you book it with on the waterfront. As we were the last boat to sail that evening they had shut up for the night. I did complain to the guys that ran the boat, but they just laughed at me.
We all came off the boat all looking like drowned rats and we had to sit in wet clothes having our evening meal. The restuarant that we were in gave us blankets and let us sit under a patio heater to get warm again.
I wouldn't have minded so much if we had been pre warned before we set sail, that it would be very choppy. To me a champagne sunset cruise is just that, a cruise where you can chill out be relaxed and watch the sun set. We didn't do any of that but clung onto what ever you could to save yourself from being tipped overboard.
So my advice to you if you want to use this boat, be prepared, make sure you have a life jacket on, and don't dress up!
This is a very popular tourist attraction besides being a working port. You can sense the vibrancy of the area as soon as you get there. There just seems to be a lightness of mood as people wander around the stores and look at the attractions.
There is a giant ferris wheel which is particularly impressive with the blue sky as a backdrop.
It is called The Wheel of Excellence and was built for the World Soccer in 2010. I was not on it but understand it affords an amazing view of Table Mountain, the city and harbor. A panoramic view of Cape Town.
From the waterfront you can get a boat to Robben Island where Mandela was held prisoner for so many years. Or you can get on a harbor tour which gives the tourist a wonderful view of the surrounding mountains.
The shopping mall is quite large and boasts a variety of stores. Some high end stores and some for the rest of us. There are great places to buy African souvenirs.
We ate at a very nice restaurant and sat outside. The service was efficient and the food good.
At the V&A Waterfront, you’ll find Nobel Square, where the four south african Nobel Peace Price winners are honoured. These are Albert Lutuli, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk. The bronze figures of the four laureates are popular photo motives, so feel free to take your pictures with them. However, please be respectful with them and don’t touch the heads. The figures enjoy a high status and South africa is very proud of its Nobel Prize winners. On the same square, a modern sculpture remembering the victims of the Apartheid years was placed, also showing Mandela and de Klerk.
Most of the time, I tend to dismiss the V&A Waterfront as a bit of a tourist trap, but that attitude never seems to persist once I actually get there, as it undoubtedly offers a huge amount to keep the tourist occupied.
Apart from the staple offerings of the brilliant Two Oceans aquarium and the Robben Island ferry terminal, it's easy to overlook the fact that the Waterfront is still a working port, with dry docks and other related infrastructure. Watching the crews work on the ships can be a magnet for technically minded - particularly small (and not so small) boys - and what's even better is that it's free!
At one point I was going to put this into Tourist Traps but that would have been cynical, wouldn't it? The Waterfront is one of the most popular tourist places in South Africa but it didn't do a huge amount for me. I have seen similar places in Toronto, San Francisco, London and other places. All of these places are pretty much the same - they have shops and restaurants catering for tourists, are very safe and very twee ... and quite boring. While in Africa I wanted to feel like I was in Africa, and not to be somewhere that resembled Fisherman's Wharf or St Katherine Dock.
It's still worth visiting and some people will absolutely love it. Others, who are a bit jaded and cynical like me, may have a few reservations.
This bustling waterfront has become more and more the centre of activities in Cape Town. Many shops, theatres, museums and restaurants can be found here with ample secure parking around it. Its location beeing in the shadow of Table Mountain is quiet stunning.
Waterfront is an active center of commercial activity day and night. It is also a spot favoured by marimba ensembles and folk choirs vying for the tourist buck. Fierce competition aside, they are easy and valuable introduction to the musical fibre of the South African society and offer glimpses of where some of the best Michael Jackson moves have come from. Locals join spontaneously into the performance, singing, dancing or both, thus adding patina of truthfulness to the whole exercise.