Photo by @wherethelight_is
Smitswinkel Bay is a secluded bay situated on the scenic coastal drive between Simon’s Town and the entrance to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. It lies at the bottom of a steep cliff and is hidden beneath the curve of the road that leads to the reserve. Smits, as it is fondly known by the locals, is the last bay on the False Bay side of the Cape, about 20 minutes outside of Simon’s Town.
Smitswinkel means Smith’s shop in Afrikaans (as in blacksmith). The name dates back to 1744, but its origin or relevance is unknown.
Accordingly, Smits was first called Patience after the tiny stream which flows down a small valley into the bay as mariners who want to fill their water casks had to be very patient because of the slow trickle of water. Back then, Smits could only be reached by boat.
How to Reach Smitswinkel Bay Beach
Drive through Simon’s Town toward Cape Point via the M44 and stop at a parking space just before the Cape Point Nature Reserve. Smits is relatively inaccessible. You can only reach it by foot down a very steep incline. It will take about 15 to 20 minutes walk down the steep 120-meter zig-zag footpath to the beach. The path is clear and easy to follow with little signposts indicating which path to take to reach the beach, making the descent much easier. The strenuous walk to the beach is worthwhile because you will be rewarded with ocean and mountain views along the way.
See the Beauty and Feel the Simplicity
There is no electricity nor cellphone reception in Smitswinkel bay. Most of the low-key wooden and stone homes of the Smits make use of paraffin lamps and gas stoves. Some shacks also installed solar panels on their roofs and use solar water heaters. There are also no roads and street lights, or shops to buy from in the area. So you need to arrive prepared and carry everything needed for a day on the beach.
Although the Smitswinkel beach is not as popular as the other beautiful beaches in Cape Town because of the fact that it is difficult to access, this picturesque beach makes for a perfect picnic destination. The beach, overlooked from the south by Judas Peak and protected from the prevailing south-easterly wind, offers powdery soft pristine white sand, calm and crystal clear waters, granite boulders scattered along the shoreline and a panoramic view of False Bay. Also note that there are no amenities or lifeguards on the beach.
Related: Best Secret Beaches in the Cape
Things to do
Smitswinkel beach is not really a swimming beach but you can still take a dip in the rock pools. What this beach is famous for is scuba diving. There are 5 wrecks in the bay, namely the SAS Good Hope, the SAS Transvaal, the Princess Elizabeth, the Oratavia and a diamond dredge called the Rockeater. The Navy sunk these ships deliberately in the 1970’s and they now form an artificial reef teeming with a variety of fish, starfish and marine life. The reef is accessible by boat and offers a deep multi-level dive averaging 30 to 36 metres.
Snorkelling, free diving, fishing, spearfishing, and trek netting are also popular activities at Smitswinkel Bay. It is also perfect for playing beach bats and Frisbee. You can explore the boulders, rock pools, caves and grottos at the south side of the beach during low tide.
With its secluded beach, breathtaking views of the ocean and mountains, the interesting activities and its close proximity to the Cape Point Nature Reserve — Smitswinkel is an ideal place to spend a day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.