Our first of several spontaneous stops was at St. James Beach, because "Colors! Stop! Now!" as we rounded a corner and this neat little row of rainbow-colored cottages came into view. It was a cold, stormy day so the beach was mostly deserted but there is a manmade swimming pool built on the shore that looks like it would be pretty nice on a hot summer day. Since it was low-tide while we were there, we were able to explore the tide pools and collect a handful of sea glass and a few abalone shells along the beach.
Our next stop was in Kalk's Bay, an adorable, colorful, artsy town along the Western Cape. Dan was already pulling the car over before we even spotted the row of vintage shops, cafes, restaurants, and antique stores. I teared up a little. One hour there was not long enough, as I could have easily spent a whole day, and a small fortune, in each, and every, store. I mean, just look at the loot in these photos alone! I wanted one of everything. Seriously all the good stuff.
ZOOOINNGGG! I was completely flipping out at this point.
By noon we made it to Boulders Beach, famous for its colony of African Penguins! PENGUINS!!! On. The. Beach! I still can't get over it. To get to the beach, you take a long wooden path surrounded by dense bushes with amazing views of the coast. Just a few steps in, I glanced down and saw a sweet mama penguin keeping her three babies warm, sleeping happily next to the fence. The penguins are totally comfortable making their nests right along the walkway, and under the steps! I feel like penguins and people could live in harmony back home in San Clemente too. I think I will take this up with the Mayor, or President, or Disneyland, because let's just be honest about who will make this dream come true.
In addition to penguins, we met a few other local critters including the pretty polka-dotted tarentaal and these mischievous-looking fur balls called "hyrax" that are closely related to...wait for it... elephants, manatees, and hippos! Whaaaat? Nature is crazy.
Look at the fluff! Baby penguins pretty much have one job for the first few months of their lives: sleep, eat, and grow... a lot like us, actually. Sadly, these sweet little guys are endangered as they are super vulnerable to changes in the environment, illness, commercial fishing, oil spills, and hunting (Right? People can be the worst), but there are a lot of conservation efforts being made to protect them, including penguin condos where mamas can lay their eggs.
When we finally had to say goodbye to the penguins, we hopped back in the car and headed to the second-southern-most tip (it's more impressive in person) of the African continent... Cape Point! Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope have a long, harrowing history of epic shipwrecks as ancient vessels tried to round the tip of Africa. Though I'm often tempted by the pirate life, I recommend visiting them from the comfort of your own personal Mini Cooper.
We trekked to the top of the lighthouse for a panoramic view of the surrounding Bay. The stormy weather had stirred up 15' waves down below but the water was the most beautiful shades of blue. Does anyone else immediately think of Listerine while looking at the ocean? I'm always comparing the color of the water to a flavor of mouthwash. It's how I make sense of the world.
The Cape is also famous for it's large population of baboons! There are signs all along the road warning to avoid them, but we kept our eyes out for them the whole time without spotting any. And then, as we were about to get back into our car, there were two mamas in the parking lot, a few yards from our car, peacefully nursing their babies. I stopped where I was and knelt down about 10 feet from them (there was a ranger nearby) and they let me take a few photos before heading home for the night. On the drive back, we put the top down for about 20 minutes as the sun was setting, because... convertible, duh!
By the time we got back to our B&B we decided to stay in out of the storm and ended up eating mac and cheese and drinking wine in the lobby while talking with other guests which was absolutely perfect. The only drawback on our trip to Cape Town was that our shark-dive trip was cancelled due to rough weather, but in hindsight, we would not have been able to do everything we did had it not been. It's still on our bucket list, which is just another reason to go back! We wish we could have had more time to explore more areas of the city, but we were excited to start our next adventure... Safari!