Bootlegger: Sea Point’s answer to great coffee, day or night

Cape Town’s Atlantic seaside suburb of Sea Point isn’t exactly overflowing with great coffee joints, which makes Bootlegger Coffee Company all the more worth a visit.

Whether you need a great cup of coffee at dawn or midnight, Bootlegger Coffee Company in the seaside suburb of Sea Point has you covered. Thankfully, it’s a coffee shop that blends superb coffee – with décor that’s easy on the eye.

Interior designer Olga Barrow, who works in both Cape Town and London, conceptualised the striking store that blends vintage industrial elements with a touch of quirkiness and dash of glamour. And it works, in a flash of binary-coloured tiles and cosy banquettes.

Of course the décor means nothing without good coffee, and here owner Pieter Bloem pulls no punches. Only pure Arabica beans are used, roasted in a high-end Giesen roaster. The house blend is delicious, typically a mix of beans from Guatemala, Burundi and Costa Rica. If you’re travelling on a budget you can soak up the special “red eye” deal each morning from 06h30 to 08h30, when coffee is just R14 a pop.

Happily, Bootlegger is about more than just coffee; if you’re hungry, you’re in the right place. Alongside tempting pastries they offer an extensive menu for both breakfast and lunch. Only free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and fresh artisan breads are used.

Combining stylish décor with great food and seriously good coffee, Bootlegger Coffee Company is well worth seeking out. You’ll find branches in the coastal suburb of Bantry Bay and further south, in Kenilworth, too.

Cape Town’s gay nightlife is always alive on ‘the pink strip’

Most of Cape Town’s gay clubs are clustered in Sea Point, a suburb neighbouring the city centre and a stone’s throw from De Waterkant ‘gay district’. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl who likes boys, who like boys who like girls, who like girls…expect to party till the sun comes up.

On Sea Point’s Somerset Road lies an area of clubs and bars that Cape Town affectionately refers to as “the pink strip”. Start off the night at Beefcakes Burger Bar, which offers a range of entertainment all week from spectacular drag performances to fabulous dinner theatre to choreographed male performers —  there’s something for everyone at this restaurant and bar.

The men’s-only Amsterdam Action Bar and the ever-popular Café Manhattan offer the best in cocktails, light meals and are also great places to kick off your evening.

A few metres away is the upmarket Crew Bar, which boasts many shirtless bartenders, roomy dancefloors and DJs playing the best in commercial music.

Beaulah Bar is another regular on the pink strip and is usually brimming over the weekend with ladies and men who love to boogy to the DJs’ hip-shaking tunes.

The most extravagant event on the gay calendar is the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP), which takes place in mid-December and is the biggest and oldest gay event in Africa. People come from all over the world to experience this themed event, where over-the-top costumes are the order of the day and the more revealing the better!

Explore the best of Cape Town’s nature on these 5 hiking trails

The Cape Peninsula, with Cape Town’s Table Mountain at one end and Cape Point at the other, is a wild, special place that begs to be explored on foot, says Fiona McIntosh, author of Hike Cape Town (published by Jacana), a full-colour guide with detailed descriptions of Cape Town’s best day hikes.

A network of hiking trails from Cape Town all the way to the tip of the Cape peninsula criss-crosses the peninsula’s mountainous spine, taking you through exquisite fynbos, indigenous forest and to dramatic rocky viewpoints. Easy coastal tracks lead to gold sand beaches, rock pools and whale-watching viewpoints. Much of the peninsula is protected as part of the Table Mountain National Park, an area of complex beauty and biodiversity that stretches about 60 kilometres from Signal Hill to Cape Point. It includes a significant portion of the mountain chain of the peninsula and 1 000 square kilometres of coastline and sea.

Nature lovers in Cape Town are spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring on foot. But these five iconic trails should be on your to-do list:

1. Maclear’s Beacon

The Table Mountain Cableway will whisk you high onto Table Mountain, but if you want to go to its true summit you will have to hike for about an hour each way across the flat plateau to a large pile of rocks known as Maclear’s Beacon. This beacon marks the highest point on Table Mountain, (1 086 metres above sea level) and was constructed in 1844 by the then Astronomer Royal at the Cape, Sir Thomas Maclear, as part of his efforts to measure the arc of the meridian of the earth.

The route, mostly along a natural rock track that leads through windswept vegetation, is marked with yellow footprints but it’s still easy to lose your way—this hike should only be undertaken in good visibility or with a guide. Remember also that on the top of the mountain the weather can change quickly so always take warm, waterproof clothing even if it’s a glorious sunny day. The Table Mountain Cableway is closed in high winds so don’t rely on it being open by the time you reach the top: make sure that you have the time, and energy, to walk down.

Free, guided walks from the Upper Cable Car Station around the plateau and across to Maclear’s Beacon are run by volunteers. Contact the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway for details.

2. Cape Point to Cape of Good Hope

This moderately difficult trail links two of South Africa’s most iconic landmarks  — Cape Point, with its two striking lighthouses, and the Cape of Good Hope, the south-western tip of Africa. It offers stunning views, wildlife sightings and interesting history. The route up to the now-redundant, upper lighthouse at Cape Point is easy, while that to the new lighthouse is steeper and exposed at times, so requires more effort and a head for heights. You can tour both lighthouses in a couple of hours, then hike along the spectacular cliff path from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope in another 30 minutes. Either return the way you came or arrange to be picked up at the car park at the Cape of Good Hope.

3. The Contour Path

This shady path through the forest on the eastern flanks of Table Mountain starts at Constantia Nek and goes across to the King’s Blockhouse above Rhodes Memorial (the car park closest to the King’s Blockhouse). Allow around six hours to hike the whole way or, if time is short, hike only the popular second half, from the National Botanical Gardens at Kirstenbosch to the King’s Blockhouse.

Since it is largely flat and shaded this is an easy trail for walkers of all ages and abilities and there are plenty of escape routes down into the Kirstenbosch gardens if the going gets tough. This is a good year-round trail, with the forest offering shelter from the hot sun in the summer. It’s particularly lovely in winter when the forest is lush and moist, waterfalls tumble down the ravines and colourful fungi adorn the dead branches.

4. Lion’s Head

The trail up Lion’s Head is one of Cape Town’s most popular hikes, partly because it is often in the wind shadow so makes a good outing when the southeaster, Cape Town’s dominant wind, is howling. Although clearly marked, it involves scrambling up some steep rocky sections, often with the aid of ladders and metal staples in the rock, so it is for confident and adventurous hikers only. The seasonal wildflowers are a particular treat and the views of Table Mountain, the World Cup stadium and Robben Island from the top of the peak are breathtaking. Allow two hours to return.

5. Sea Point Promenade

The Sea Point promenade stretches south along Cape Town’s Atlantic coastline from the Green Point lighthouse, a Cape Town landmark, to Queen’s Beach at the southerly end of Sea Point. It’s a wonderfully bracing child- and dog-friendly walk that can be hiked one way if you have two cars (or have a pre-loaded myconnect card for use on Cape Town’s MyCiTi bus), or as an out-and-back walk from either end.

In addition to refreshment stalls, jungle gyms and playgrounds there are several beaches along the way, as well as two tidal pools. The pool at Milton Beach is close to the sand and is protected from the crashing waves beyond so is ideal for families, while Graaff’s pool is a stunning, but more exposed gully nestled between jagged rocks.

As with all good promenades there are benches along the way where you can relax and watch the world go by. The Sea Point promenade has a great vibe, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon when walkers, joggers and rollerbladers head out for a little fresh air. Allow an hour each way.

Where to party in Sea Point

Sea Point, Green Point and the surrounding areas are well known for their popularity amongst visitors to Cape Town. Accommodation is of a high standard and appeals to a range of budgets. Add to this the fact that you don’t have to travel into the city centre in order to go clubbing, and your choice of destination could not be more ideal.

On the main road of Sea Point a brightly lit doorway welcomes you to the underground dance club DecoDance. If you’re looking for a diverse crowd of all age groups dancing and singing along to hits from the ‘60s, ’70s and ’80s, then this is the place for you. The venue, which often hosts bachelorette and birthday parties as well, has both a smoking and non-smoking dancefloor.

Nestled above Mano’s restaurant on Green Point’s Main Road, Jade Champagne Bar & Lounge is an upmarket, more discerning club with a strict age restriction of 23. There is no cover charge, but there is a semi-formal dress code and access is at the discretion of the door staff. The music on offer is an array of r’n’b, hip-hop, nu disco, house and funk, depending on the night.

On the outskirts of the city in the De Waterkant district, the gay community reigns supreme. Whether you are straight or gay, Crew Bar, Beaulah Bar and a whole host of other venues will offer you a night of decadence, good-looking shirtless barmen and a playlist of commercial electronic dance music, house and disco.

Where to surf in Cape Town: Hout Bay to Sea Point

North of Kommetjie is Noordhoek beach, home to a long series of beach break waves that ends in the rocky northern corner known as The Hoek. All these waves can be excellent in moderate southeast winds. The road then takes you to Hout Bay along the spectacular Chapmans Peak drive, where sheer cliffs plunge into the ocean.

Hout Bay itself has very marginal surf, but at the western tip of the bay lies Dungeons, the world-famous reef that is capable of producing some of the biggest waves on the planet.

Heading north over the mountain pass from Hout Bay is Llandudno, a hollow beach break that serves up good barrels, but competition for waves can be fierce. Regardless, it’s a beautiful beach to spend the day on and enjoy a sundowner, the other favourite Llandudno activity aside from surfing. The road then continues north. Once you hit the trendy Camps Bay strip with its bars and clubs, you are in close proximity to the city centre, which lies just over the mountain pass called Kloof Nek. Camps Bay itself has marginal surf but Glen Beach, in the northern corner, can be good but has protective locals.

If you continue following the coastal road you will pass Bantry Bay and Clifton’s First to Fourth Beach, which are all stunning but better suited for suntanning than surfing. Once you hit Sea Point the waves begin again and this stretch of coast is characterised by powerful lefts breaking over jagged rock. There are a number of good quality waves in Sea Point that can handle strong southeast winds but need a relatively large swell to get going. The environment is more urban here, made up of tall apartment buildings and the Sea Point promenade, which runs all the way to Green Point, where you will find the mythical wave of Thermopylae. The wave takes its name from the hull of the sunken ship that sticks out above the take-off zone. When it works, “Thermos” produces a long ride that seems to go on forever, but it is very rare and requires a gigantic swell.