Everyone loves Cape Town, but in the summer the blue skies and sunny skies beckon both visitors on holiday in Cape Town and locals to enjoy planning a romantic picnic for two, or an outing for the whole family. Cape Town’s stunning scenery presents many opportunities for a relaxing outdoor meal to be enjoyed in the most pleasant surroundings. Here is a list of 10 beautiful picnic spots where one can enjoy a picnic or a barbecue known to all in South Africa as a “braai”, and best of all, within a short drive from our Noordhoek self-catering accommodation. If you are willing to pay for a gourmet picnic, there are many more choices on the wine farms both in Constantia or further afield. We have, however, chosen these spots because they allow you to pack your own picnic basket and cooler box economically with your favourite eats and drinks.
Silvermine Nature Reserve
The Silvermine reserve is part of the Table Mountain National park, and is just a few minutes’ drive from our Noordhoek self-catering Cape Town accommodation. At the top of the mountain road is a clearly marked National Parks sign denoting the entrance to the Silvermine reservoir trail. There is a nominal entrance fee, but toilet facilities are provided at the parking area. A pleasant and easy walk to the Silvermine reservoir will be sure to enjoyed by the whole family, along a trail that winds through indigenous flora and even a small forest, alongside a bubbling stream with boardwalks to cross the stream, until the trail circles the wall of the pretty dam, where the cool, clean blue waters may entice you to enjoy a swim on a warm day. Along the walk up to the dam you will enjoy spectacular views across False Bay.There are a number picnic benches and tables made out of stone set in shady glades where one can picnic or make use of the braai (bbq) pits.
Tokai Forest Picnic Area
Situated on the edge of the Tokai forest is a spacious picnic site shaded by pine trees, set in the beautiful Constantia valley. There is ample space for families and for kids to run and play; as well as walking trails through the forest. Tokai forest is a close forest of tall pine trees, and, indigenous forest, as well as Cape Fynbos; an ideal spot for weekend family picnics. There is a nominal entrance fee payable. Thoughtfully provided are concrete picnic tables and stools offering lovely shaded Al Fresco dining enjoyment as well as bbq (braai) pits, and a convenient ablution block. Just a little further up Tokai Rd as you leave the picnic area, you will find the beautiful Tokai Manor House, with its unusual rectangular pediment dating back to about 1795; and which now houses the national parks board in Cape Town.
The Tokai Forest reserve also contains hiking and biking trails which are accessed through Orpen Rd that runs through the forest to Constantia, but the picnic area is accessed from the top of Tokai road; pass through the traffic circle and you will find the entrance on your right
Chapman’s Peak Drive
A short drive down the road from our Noordhoek accommodation is Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is undoubtedly Cape Town’s most spectacular coastal scenic drive. It presents many opportunities for great photography, with the road skirting the rocky coastline of the Atlantic Ocean far below, while hugging the slopes of the mountain. Chapman’s Peak drive hugs the rocky coastline to Hout Bay and offers magnificent views from the white sand beach of Noordhoek to the sheltered bay nestling under the imposing Karbonkelberg, which is Hout Bay. Along the drive you will find a number of designated picnic spots, on either side of the road; each equipped with concrete tables and benches, and some with braai (bbq) pits.
Some will be tucked under sheltering trees and some open to the sun looking across the bay, but most of are situated on spectacular view spots, and at least one next to a bubbling waterfall. These are lovely secluded spots to enjoy your picnic and, if you plan it for the late afternoon, you will be rewarded with one of the spectacular sunsets enjoyed almost every evening on this western side of the peninsula as the sun sinks into the sea.
Perdekloof Picnic Site and Wildschutsbrand
Travelling from Noordhoek south along the Peninsula through Kommetjie to Cape Point, are 2 large shaded picnic spots located in a sheltered growth of pine trees at the foot of the mountain, just after the beach village of Scarborough. Wildschutsbrand is the larger and is open all year round whilst Perdekloof is closed during the winter months. There are numerous concrete tables and benches; well spaced out to avoid crowding and well maintained braai (barbeque) facilities at both. Perdekloof offers a great opportunity to enjoy that “away from it all” feeling, whilst being easily accessible. Right opposite the picnic area is the mountain road to Simonstown which offers spectacular views of False bay, and an open air showroom with great opportunities to purchase stone African carvings from the local people. Entrance to these picnic sites is free.
Cape Point Nature reserve
In the Cape Point Park are picnic spots at both Buffels Bay and Bordjiesdrif on the Atlantic side, with clean white sand beaches, tidal pools, and lovely grassed picnic and braai spots which make it ideal for a family outing. Buffels Bay is often preferred for swimming because it enjoys the warmer waters of False Bay. Cape Point nature reserve presents an opportunity to view the mighty meeting of the oceans at Cape point, the high cliffs above the sea, and a variety of wild animals including baboons, Cape Mountain Zebra and various antelope. There are many other bird and animal species and some 1,100 species of ‘fynbos’ (Cape indigenous flora) The reserve is open between 6am to 6 pm in the summer months, but be warned on 2 counts: The entrance fees are steep by any standard and you are may have to share have your picnic with the baboons.
Seaforth beach is an ideal venue for a family picnic; it has sloping green lawns that overlook the sheltered bathing beach, enabling parents to keep an eye on the little ones at play. The beach is sheltered from waves by massive rocks and offers safe swimming for kids. Entrance to the beach is free. There is a good restaurant at Seaforth Beach, with lovely views from their deck.
Boulders Beach, a little further on, was recently voted the best family beach in the world by a leading UK journal. Here, too, is a safe sheltered beach, nestled amongst the massive boulders for which the beach is named. The whole family will enjoy strolling along the boardwalk past the penguin colony where the cute black and white birds waddle along the beach or swim in the waves. This is a pay beach to limit the numbers. Further on the road to Cape Point one will find a delightful small beach at Froggy Pond ; situated right next to the road opposite the Fresh Air camp, where green lawns invite one to unpack a picnic and enjoy the sound of the waves and the fresh air, or drive further towards Cape Point and picnic in solitude at one of the concrete picnic tables and benches provided at the side of the road.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Gardens are renowned for the diverse floral kingdom and displays of indigenous Proteas and fynbos, with a magnificent setting against the majestic eastern slopes of Table Mountain. This is an ideal spot for a family picnic with rolling lawns offering plenty of space for the kids to play. In summer there are open-air concerts presented on Sunday evenings, so bring along a blanket, a picnic basket and some Cape wine to enjoy the gardens or the concerts. The Silvertree Deli and Restaurant offers a selection of picnic baskets if you want to take the easy way out. An entrance fee has to be paid to the Gardens.
This beautiful park was established as far back as the 1890’s, and is very popular with locals over the weekends, although usually quiet during the week. It is far and away the most beautiful of Cape Town’s parks, and is worth a visit at any time of the year. The photograph that has been included was taken on a sunny day in the middle of winter, showing just how beautiful the days can be in Cape Town’s “secret season”. Features of the park include the spring giving rise to the “Krakeelwater” river; a magnificent conifer garden, water features and a truly beautiful
duckpond, Lovely grassy areas provide an ideal setting for a family picnic while those of a more carnivorous nature are catered for by the provision of braai or bbq areas, with concrete benches and tables. There is also a range of playground equipment to keep the children amused. It is a truly lovely park to enjoy some quiet relaxation. The park is entered from the Trovato Link when leaving Wynberg to approach the M3 highway to Cape Town.
The Deer Park aka Rockland park in Vredehoek, Cape Town, seems to have been kept a secret by those who live under the shadow of Table Mountain; this may be not only because is it almost under the Table Mountain cableway but is not easy to find on your first visit and certainly would not be accessible to the casual passerby. It is certainly worth a visit for its spectacular views over the city to Table Bay on the one hand and impressive views of the slopes of Table Mountain where you are likely to sight one of the cable cars ferrying people to and from the top. There are lush lawns, verdant trees and indigenous plants, a softly flowing river and abundant birdlife. Picnickers are catered for by the provision of concrete tables and benches and there is a convenient ablution facility. High up on the slopes of table mountain the air seems wonderfully clean and fresh. There are paths for walking or running and mountain trails that can be negotiated even with young children; exciting paths for mountain bikers looking for an unusual test of skill, and well maintained playground equipment for little ones. The best way to find this Park if you are coming along the M3 De Waal drive is to take the Mill Street offramp, then turn left into Upper Buitenkant St where, after a short distance, it will fork left to become Highlands Avenue, and then take a right into Rocklands Avenue which will bring you to the entrance of the park.
De Waal Park
De Waal park is a community park situated in the heart of the City Bowl of Cape Town. I have included it primarily because free concerts are often held here during the summer months, and it does offer beautiful views of the slopes of Table Mountain as well as of the city. Looking at the clustered Victorian semi’s close by and even the closely nestled Villas which don’t ever seem to get much sunlight, one can imagine how the Victorians would have loved to escape their dark dwellings in winter for a walk in the lush greenery of the park with its many European trees or escape the heat in summer to this cool retreat. It seems less well maintained than any of the other parks, but is perfectly safe and fully fenced. There are no tables or chairs, so you will need to bring a picnic basket although there are a number of benches thoughtfully provided under the shade of the trees. The best way to find De Waal Park when approaching it from the M3 is to take the Mill Street exit; turn left into Upper Orange Street, where you will find the entrance to the park on the corner of Upper Orange and Belvedere St, Oranjezicht.