There are many local attractions around Tamarind. The False Bay water is pleasant for swimming and sailing, as it is significantly warmer and calmer than the Atlantic Ocean just the other side of the Cape. Sea temperatures in summer are up to 20°C. The Bay is also a favoured haunt for whales and their calves, dolphins and seals, and they are all commonly sighted.
Within easy reach of Emerald Bay are many other beautiful, white sandy beaches, spectacular coastal drives and a selection of excellent restaurants.
Just 30 minutes drive away is central Cape Town, one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It is a fascinating place to visit, rich in culture and history, an eclectic mix of African and European influences. A harmonious blend of architectural styles reflect the tastes and dictates of the past and today’s more functional requirements. Between high rise office blocks, Edwardian and Victorian buildings have been well maintained, and there are many outstanding examples of Cape Dutch architecture. It is a great place to shop and eat out. Visit St. Georges Street, as it is the venue for traditional Marimba dance displays at lunchtimes and on Saturday mornings. The best way to explore the city centre is on foot.
The V&A Waterfront is one of Cape Town’s biggest tourist attractions and is an extremely successful rejuvenation of a working port. The waterfront is a huge entertainment venue with pubs, restaurants, speciality and high street shops, craft markets, theatres and movies. The Waterfront is always buzzing with buskers and street acts. It is also the departure point for all tours to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for all those years.
Cape Town is dominated by the 1000-metre high Table Mountain, host to an amazing amount of flora and fauna – more than found in the whole of the UK. The views are phenomenal and the revolving cable-way makes it easily accessible for those who prefer not to walk. See the Rock Dassies (little rodents, like marmots or groundhogs). There are some 1,470 species of plants, including more than 500 species of Erica and over 100 species of Iris. The mountain is well worth a visit so don’t forget a camera.
The world-renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, at the foot of Table Mountain, are the most beautiful gardens and a must-visit. Explore 36 landscaped hectares with over 6,000 indigenous plants. There is a Braille Trail, and some really interesting displays all year round. In the summer (December to March), outdoor concerts are held on Sunday afternoons, with a wide variety of music. It’s a great way to watch the sunset over the city, whilst enjoying a picnic.
The winelands are only a fifteen minute drive from Emerald Bay. Stellenbosch is the centre of the Cape Winelands, which also encompasses the towns of Franchhoek, Paarl and Wellington. Stellenbosch is home to a large university and has the quiet air of academia about it. The main street is the longest stretch of original Cape Dutch houses in South Africa and is very picturesque. There are over thirty vineyards around Stellenbosch, all open to the public for tours, tastings and sales.
Franschhoek is set in a beautiful valley, originally settled by the French Huguenots. Imposing mountains surrounds the picturesque village, and a sense of history emanates from the Victorian high street and the gracious Cape farmsteads. Franschhoek is well known for the excellence of its wine and restaurants. It has a reputation of being the Cape’s culinary capital, but there are also lovely antique shops and art galleries. The rich heritage and history of the valley and its inhabitants is set out at the Huguenot Commemorative Museum. There are 48 members of the Vignerons de Franschhoek, which includes many of South Africa’s most respected names in the wine industry, and these vineyards are also open to the public.
At Simonstown the Maritime Museum focuses on South Africa’s naval history whilst the Simonstown Museum highlights the town’s history, which has a number of buildings over 150 years old. The Warrior Museum has a permanent exhibition of Dinky Toys, dolls, Meccano models and other toys. Nearby the glorious, sheltered beach at Boulders is home to a colony of some 3000 African penguins. They are worth stopping for on your way to the Cape of Good Hope. Whales may also easily seen from the shore and there are whale watching trips from the quay, which also visit the seals on Seal Island and their natural predators – the Great White Shark.
Indigenous flora and fauna are preserved in the wilderness area of Cape Point. Spring sees the route to Cape Point carpeted with flowers. The reserve is home to baboons, zebra, ostrich, several species of antelope, as well as smaller birds, mammals and reptiles. Do beware of the baboons in the car park at Cape Point – they will try to steal any food you have. It can be extremely windy down here so it may be worth taking a jumper.
The seaside resort of Hermanus, famous for its champagne air, offers the best land-based whale watching in the world. The town is about an hour’s drive from Emerald Bay, and offers a wide variety of attractions. There are 14km of cliff walks and over 40km of walks in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and pristine beaches. The Southern Right whale visits the safe waters of Walker Bay from June to November to mate, calf and play. The whole town is geared to whale watching – a sonar buoy at the Old Harbour Museum transmits whale sounds, and a telescope enhances the whale watching. The town also boasts the world’s only Whale Crier, who announces the location of the whales with his unique kelp horn.