30 things to do in Gordon’s Bay

Posted by Rachel Robinson on 28 June 2017

Gordon’s Bay has certainly embraced the slow life, but there’s still plenty to see and do in this small seaside town. Plus the wind doesn’t blow very much in winter, making it an excellent time to go visit! Here are 30 things to do while you are there.

Photo by Rachel Robinson

The first thing you are likely to notice when you go to Gordon’s Bay is the giant anchor and the initials GB on the mountainside overlooking the harbour. Interestingly, these initials don’t stand for Gordon’s Bay, but rather for General Botha, which was the original name of the Naval College named after General Louis Botha who was the first premier of the Union of South Africa. And did you know that Gordon’s Bay is the only town in South Africa with two working harbours?

 

Where to eat and drink in Gordon’s Bay

1. 47 Gypsies – Book A Bed

It all happens at 47 Gypsies on the beachfront! So if you want to know what’s happening in Gordon’s Bay, then this is a good place to start. Their carrot cake is legendary. It’s a massive piece though so prepare to take some time to enjoy it, while chatting to owner, Elouise Trichardt. They like to keep things simple here, so you will only find the carrot cake and various soft drinks and hot beverages for sale. However, if you fancy watching the sun set over a glass of wine, you are welcome to bring your own (R30 corkage fee). If you are looking for a place to stay, they have a clean and charming backpacker style room (from R225 per person per night), a twin room (from R450 per night for the room) and a rather swish sea view room (from R550 per night for the room). They are also wheelchair-friendly and pet-friendly for small dogs who will be nice to Koos, their resident and rather loveable hound. On top of all that, they also offer kayak hire at R100 per hour.

Contact: Tel 0740330301, 47gypsies.co.za

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

2. Mary Ann’s Natural Emporium & Eatery

Vegetarians and vegans will be delighted to know that a lunch time feast awaits them on Mondays to Fridays. The buffet table is laden with dozens of platters and bowls filled with all sorts of colourful and tasty goodies that even carnivores would enjoy. There’s also various smoothies available, along with fruit juices, herbal teas and coffee. Their vegan cheesecake is one of the best cheesecakes I have ever had – you wouldn’t believe that it contains no dairy!

After lunch, take a walk around their vegetable garden, browse through the shop and enjoy paintings by a local artists. Mary-Ann and Mark Shearer are passionate about encouraging people to embrace a healthy lifestyle along with taking care of our planet, so not only can you expect a plate filled with food that really is good for you, you’ll also find a selection of natural health and beauty products, organic produce, vegetable seeds, sprout kits and kind-to-the-environment cleaning products. I can guarantee you will leave feeling satisfied and inspired!

Contact: Tel 0218562500, mary-anns.com

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

3. Mountain Streams Nursery

The Garden Kitchen Coffee Shop has a simple and affordable menu offering breakfasts, light meals and desserts, along with various beverages including shakes and floats. It’s a tranquil spot with tinkling fountains and chirping birds that will force you to slow down and relax while enjoying your cappuccino. On Sundays they do a roast for lunch. However, while you wait for your meal (which does take a while) you can have a wander around the charming nursery or talk to the parrots. They also have wine, beer and a few mixers, but if you want to take your own, corkage is a very reasonable R15. While you are there you can buy plants from the nursery, free range eggs from local farmers and the usual farmstall selection of rusks, jams and preserves.

Contact: Tel 0218564951, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

4. Mia Bella Pizzeria

Possibly the best pizza in Gordon’s Bay! This family-owned and run restaurant (right down to the waitresses) make their own bases and their wood-fired pizzas are large, juicy with generous toppings, and start at R60. We tried the spare rib pizza (a family favourite) which was loaded to the brim with roast pork, caramelised onions and mushrooms. If you are just feeling peckish, they also have a selection of pita breads from R25. There’s a fireplace to keep you warm, while the chandeliers, candles and photos of Italy and Cuba add to the cosiness. They don’t have a liquor licence so drinks come from Amigos Taverna next door, or you can bring your own (no corkage fee).

Contact: Tel 0713494434, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

5. Amigos Taverna

Amigos has a great Happy Hour from 17:00 – 19:00 on Mondays to Thursdays with draughts at R20, bottled beer and ciders for R15 and double whiskies, brandies and vodka for R20. At those prices, you may be advised to order a pizza from Mia Bella next door on your way in! They’re also big on braais, having a mid-month chicken braai (quarter chicken with a roll and salad) for R20 per person, a last Friday steak braai (200g sirloin with a mushroom sauce served with baby potatoes and a salad) for R30 per person. You can’t make it at home for cheaper than that! Both braai days have live music, while on Sundays you can bring-and-braai where they provide the fire, rolls and salad. They also host a pub quiz on Wednesday evenings at R10 per person with teams of four. Great value for money all round here.

Contact: Tel 0730344824 / 0828991789

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

6. Zest Restaurant

Zest has many glowing accolades on TripAdvisor and after having a meal there, I will give it one too! I had the rump steak marinated in stout and Jagermeister (of course!) and it was honestly one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. My friend had their Kadai chicken curry and also gave it a hearty thumbs up. Zest is more of a fine dining affair, but in a casual yet cosy bistro-type restaurant that serves up “a good meal with a bit of flair”, as chef and co-owner, Ruben van Berge, put it. In other words, you get a really good helping of a well-constructed dish. The menu changes weekly, and in the summer months you’ll find more Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Contact: Tel 0212002605, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

7. Talla’s Tavern & Restaurant

You won’t find fine dining at Talla’s (which is next door to Zest), but I mention it as you cannot miss it with it’s huge mural on the wall of the historical building in which it’s situated. Back in the 1880s it was a general dealer store named The Magnet Store, but today the sacks of flour and drums of paraffin have been replaced by a bar counter and beer taps. Talla’s also has an extensive menu, including daily and winter specials.

Contact: Tel 0218563513, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

8. Old Cape Café

This popular beach-front restaurant is also pet-friendly, so you can take your canine best friend to breakfast after a walk on the beach (Note: only a certain section of the beach is dog-friendly). They also do lunches and dinners and there’s a cosy bar area in the back that doubles up as the smoking section. I have eaten there on a few occasions and always found their food to be tasty with ample portions – try the mussel pot, it’s my favourite. It’s a casual, cosy and semi rustic spot to enjoy a meal while playing a board game with some mates.

Contact: Tel 0218560248 or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

9. Red Sky Brew

This could be Gordon’s Bay best-kept secret! Situated in Mansfield Industrial Park, The Hangar is the perfect spot to unwind from a busy week. There’s beer tasting (4 beers for R25), gin & tonic on tap (yes, on tap!) and a rather lethal-sounding Apple Pie Moonshine on offer, along with pints (R30), bottles (from R22) their very refreshing Ginga Ninja gingerbeer (R20) and a snack menu. On the first Friday of every month they do an American-style BBQ, which includes brisket, pulled-pork sandwiches and fried chicken waffles. Apart from the usual pale ales and amber ales, Red Sky Brew were the first to make a gluten-free beer – named Goshawk. You can enjoy that, along with a Vampire Robust Porter or a Beyerskloof Pinot Ale and a whole lot more every Friday from 16:00 (or by appointment during the week).

Contact: Tel 0795021531, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

10. The Thirsty Oyster Tavern

If you like 80’s music, live bands and calamari, this fun-loving (and on occasion, somewhat rowdy) restaurant and bar is for you. Situated on the old harbour, you can choose to eat in one of the restaurant sections, or you can have a basket of pub grub in the bar area while watching a live band (Fridays and Sundays). It’s perfectly situated for great views across the bay and watching the yachts bobbing on the water while enjoying a cold one. Plus it’s sheltered from the famous South Easter so if the wind is howling, then head here!

Contact: Tel 0218564457, www.thethirstyoyster.co.za

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

11. Berties Moorings

Berties on on Harbour Island is a great spot for a cocktail in the other working harbour, where you are very likely to be spoilt with a magnificent sunset if you go for sundowners. (You may have to ask for the cocktail menu specifically though, I almost had a beer before realising that I could have a Mai Tai or Tequila Sunrise!) Other than cocktails and the usual bar offerings, they also serve light meals, burgers, grills, pasta, pizza and seafood dishes. They have live music on Friday and Sunday evenings with some well-known South African bands.

Contact: Tel 0218563343, www.berties.co.za

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

12. Danny Cool Bar

The walls of Danny Cool have some of the funniest posters I have seen for a long time! They also have a doll called Chucky who keeps an eye on happenings in the bar, records in the bathroom and a fabulous Bob Marley mural. All that should give you a picture of what this place is about – a casual, light-hearted and fun beachfront bar that offers various specials on different days. You’ll find a fun-loving mix of friendly locals and visitors here, so don’t expect to pop in for “just one drink”!

Contact: Tel 0824682120, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

13. Rasta Rooster

Next door to Danny Cool is Rasta Rooster, a funky little restaurant that serves up free range and Halaal peri-peri and Moroccan chicken dishes that are both ridiculously affordable and delicious. Where else are you going to find a chicken burger with chips and a soft drink for R45? Or take two on Mondays for R75! On Wednesdays there’s vetkoek with chicken curry for R30 (or two for R50), Thursdays special is two chicken buns with a small chips for R40 (R20 each!) and on Friday to Sunday you can feast on chicken bunny chow for R25. Now there’s no excuse for not eating something before you have a beer next door. In fact, they deliver to the bar – but then you’d miss out on the fun chicken murals.

Contact: Tel 0822838889, or visit their Facebook page

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

14. The Dock In The Bay

When I first popped into the The Dock, I thought it was just another beachfront bar offering various drinks specials, live music (Saturday afternoons), karaoke on Fridays and a Trivia Evening on Tuesdays. But it turns out there is a rather cosy restaurant at the back that has a pianola! I had never seen one before –
but they’ve had it since 1928 and it’s worth a look. If you are lucky, there may be someone playing it too! They also serve curries, bobotie, steaks, chops, pasta dishes and there are plenty of seafood options. Or you can just sit outside under an umbrella with a cocktail and watch the world go by.

Contact: Tel 0218565556, http://dockinthebay.co.za

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

15. Car Wash Coffee Shop

“Carwash” may currently be classified as a dirty word due to our severe drought, but by the time you read this, they should’ve completed drilling for a borehole. That said, you don’t need to have a carwash, or even a car, to pop into the coffee shop for breakfast or a light meal. It’s the first time I have ever come across a coffee shop at a carwash (apparently popular in Gauteng) so I was delighted with my find just across from the Spar in Gordon’s Bay. Car washes start at R100 and while you wait, you can tuck into a full breakfast (think eggs, bacon, boerewors, mushrooms and toast) for R45, or just a cheese scone with extra cheese and jam (R30).

Contact: Tel 0794306782 or 0724384353

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

16. Locals Pub & Grill

As the name suggests, this is where you are going to find all the Gordon’s Bay locals on most nights. There are always cars outside, so you are guaranteed company! They have live music on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (from 16:00), while Thursdays is reserved for kareoke. If you are feeling peckish, they offer pizzas and a Meal Of The Day from Tuesdays to Fridays, including bangers and mash, pie with gravy and chips and a burger with chips at very affordable prices.

Contact: Tel 0212001347, www.localspubgrill.co.za

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

17. Have an ice-cream

There are a few spots along the beachfront where you can get your dairy fix, including Uncle Barry’s Ice Cream and the Pop Inn Café. Both offer soft-serve ice-cream with a selection of cones and cups along with the usual add-ons like dips, flakes and nuts. It just depends on whether you only want an ice-cream, or if you need to get a few supplies from the corner café at the same time!

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

18. Eat fish n’ chips

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to fish n’ chips in Gordon’s Bay! The most famous being Ooskus Fisheries, who also sell frozen seafood, roll mops and pickled fish. They also offer pensioners a 10% discount on Tuesdays. Trawlers on the beachfront is another good option if you want your meal with a view (they offer pensioners 10% discount on Wednesdays). However, if you are looking for a good bargain, the locals recommend Gordon’s Bay Fisheries in Mansfield Industrial Park – conveniently near Locals, so you can grab take-aways before you head home.

Photo by Rachel Robinson

Shops worth visiting in Gordon’s Bay

19. Amber Moon

If you are looking for a Bloodstone, a Mookaite or a Smokey Quartz, Amber Moon on the beachfront is the place to go. Along with a huge selection of gemstones (which are cleaned daily!) this esoteric shop has stocks moon calendars, dreamcatchers, tarot cards, incense sticks, herbal infusions, soaps, oils and wands. You can have a crystal ball reading or a Bach Flower Remedy consultation, or attend various workshops such as Holistic Lifestyle classes, Astrology and Reiki for Animals. It was a rather fascinating find and not something I thought I would stumble upon in this seaside town!

Contact: Tel 0793263651, www.ambermoon.co.za

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

20. Aladdin’s Cave

Anyone who has been to Gordon’s Bay will know all about the beachfront shop that sells Chinese-produced goods, vintage clothing and everything in between. For 30 years they have been open every day of the year selling anything from whoopee cushions to beads, flipflops to kid’s fishing nets and all manner of trinkets, ornaments and bric brac. Expect to hear much giggling as customers find something amusing, while dodging dangling shell mobiles and making sure you don’t knock a garden gnome off the shelf.

Contact: Tel 0218563297

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

21. Bikini Beach Books

Another much-loved Gordon’s Bay stalwart that’s been buying and selling books for over 25 years. Books start at 50c and whilst it may all look a bit chaotic, there is some order to the madness. They claim that it’s actually been cleverly structured to encourage book lovers to search and find! Which I promise you will – expect to leave with an armload of books! That said, fictional titles are alphabetical, while non-fiction books are grouped by genre. While they are not a library with books in categories, they generally know what is where, so just ask. Tip: The books on the floor are waiting to be fixed. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy them!

Contact: They deliberately don’t have a landline or website, but you can’t miss them on Beach Road. They are open from 08:00-21:00 every day of the week (including Christmas Day and other holidays).

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

Things to do in Gordon’s Bay

22. Try SUPing

Anneke Smit is so enthusiastic about SUP-ing and hiking in the area, you’ll probably find yourself in a wetsuit or lacing up your boots before you can order a slice of carrot cake from 47 Gypsies – which is where you’ll find this adventure-loving company. Their SUP boards available for hire (R150 per hour) are suitable for beginners and they also offer lessons in this trendy sport. They also have wetsuits for hire on request. If hiking is more your thing, they offer a guided hike to the Crystal Pools (November to April). Note: This is a fairly difficult hike that requires moderate fitness. Anneke can also organise horse-riding and an Eco Tour on a 10-seater speedboat that’ll take you to see the seals and local seabirds.

Contact: Tel 0218562246, www.capeadventurezone.com

 

23. Take a sunset cruise

Gordon’s Bay is well known for its sunsets and what better way to enjoy one than on the sea with the possibility of seeing seals, dolphins and whales! The cruise with Helderberg Sunset Cruise lasts for 90 minutes and there are various packages available, starting at R450 per person (minimum 10 people) and the best part is that they include a pick-up and drop-off service, so you can enjoy your bubbly and not worry about driving home. You can also choose whether to have snacks on board, have dinner at The Thirsty Oyster Tavern afterwards (they will collect you when you have finished dinner), or go on a fishing trip that includes braaing your catch on board.

Contact: Tel 0614794097, or visit their Facebook page

Photo from Facebook page

 

24. Hike the Gantouw Pass in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

Also known as Eland Pass (the Khoi herders used this route which they called “Gantouw”, which means eland in the Khoi language) and proclaimed a national monument in 1958, it’s here that you can see deep grooves in the sandstone rock, caused by locked wagon wheels as they slid down the dangerous slopes. There are two hiking trails in the area allowing you the opportunity to explore, but you will need a 4×4 vehicle to get to the start.

Contact: Tel 0214830000 (Cape Nature)

 

25. Take a scooter for a spin

Imagine zooting along Clarens Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Betty’s Bay with the mountains on your left, the ocean on your right and the wind in your hair! Hire a scooter (from R100 per hour) from Scoot The Route and go visit the penguins at Stoney Point, have a picnic in Kogelbay or enjoy a lunch in Betty’s Bay. Scooters are a fun and economical way explore the area!

Contact: Tel 0614794097, or visit their Facebook page

 

26. Drive to the Steenbras Lookout Point

It’s worth taking the short drive up the Steenbras Lookout Point which is literally right in front of the gates to the Steenbras Water Treatment Plant. Not only is it a beautiful drive, the views across False Bay, Gordon’s Bay and Strand are magnificent. Plus, it’s also the only pass in South Africa that has a hairpin bend in excess of 180 degrees! So take it slow and enjoy the views.

Photo by Rachel Robinson

 

27. Go for a dive

Indigo Scuba Diving Centre is in the mountainside residential area of Gordon’s Bay with a shop, a heated dive pool, a wet area to wash and hang your gear after diving and a lecture room. Not only can they teach you to dive and take you for a dive in False Bay (and beyond), they can also fill your cylinders while you enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Be sure to give them a call before visiting as they may be out diving.

Contact: Tel 0832681851, www.indigoscuba.com

 

28. Take a walk

Go for a stroll along the beachfront and include the the whale-watching trail if you fancy a slightly longer walk. Apart from dipping your toes in the sea (which is warmer and calmer than the Atlantic coast), keep an eye out for the Ingrid Jonker memorial (the famous poet spent much of her childhood in Gordon’s Bay and was happiest here) and the beautiful ceramic tile map at the post office depicting the Cape and False Bay in the 18th century.

Photo by Vivienne Kemp

 

29. Mukda Thai Spa

Unfortunately I didn’t get to personally visit the spa, but if you are looking to have a massage or spa treatment, they claim to offer an authentic Thai wellness experience, including a Traditional Thai Massage, Thai Reflexology, Thai Hot Stone Massage and a Waan Jai Gentle Body Massage to name a few, along with various packages, facials, manicures and pedicures.

Contact: Tel 0218565706, www.mukdathaispa.co.za

 

30. Gordon’s Bay Winter Wonderland Festival

Held annually at the beginning of July, this is Gordon’s Bay very own festival of lights, of which they are very proud. As mentioned, winter is generally a good time to visit this town as the wind seldom blows, but as there is a good chance it may rain, they have their Winter Wonderland over two weekends. It’s a good opportunity to visit all the places mentioned as many offer specials and activities, along with a fairground, plenty of fairy lights and fun events. I have been two years in a row and have enjoyed it every time. This year it’s being held from 30 June to 2 July and again on 7 – 9 July. Visit their website or Facebook page for updates.

Photo by Rachel Robinson 

Do you have any favourite places or things to do in Gordon’s Bay? Let us in on the secret in the comments below!

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