COASTEER ON THE CAPE PENINSULA
Windmill Beach, like its better-known neighbour Boulders, is well-protected from the wind that can whip across the Peninsula, but it has the additional benefit of a wider, more panoramic view across False Bay. This makes it the perfect setting for an activity known as coasteering. Developed in Wales, it’s a sort of marine kloofing – snorkelling, scrambling over rocks and jumping off them along the coast. There are often penguins here, but they must have been performing their tiny-butler duties elsewhere on our visit. For most of the morning, your job is to explore the rich Atlantic waters like a kid. First is the snorkelling: red, pink and purple urchins line the rocks like pompoms, as well as massive starfish. This water, usually fairly chilly, is perfectly friendly when wearing a wetsuit. Rounding the seaward face of one of the granite boulders, there’s a massive drop-off: you can use the sturdy necks of the kelp to jettison yourself down on one lungful of air, watching bigger fish flit about in the
depths. (Not terrifyingly big, though – great whites tend to avoid kelp beds.) Then it’s time to swap your snorkel for a helmet and life vest, and play in the gully, which feels almost like a white-water rapid when the swell churns through it. (Fighting with the current was infinitely entertaining for the teenage boys among us.) Then there is the jumping. Unlike kloofing, there isn’t a ‘route’ – so the jumps aren’t a necessary means of getting from A to B, but a glorious way to up your adrenalin for the thrill of it. After about two hours of being tugged around by the tide, and leaping eight metres into the glassy embrace of the Atlantic, I was out of breath, salty, and utterly satisfied to laze on the beach and take in some sun.
The kelp beds around this part of the coast are a playground for all kinds of creatures, both marine and terrestrial. OPPOSITE BOTTOM Spiny starfish like this, held by Andrew Kellett, are plentiful: this one was busy eating a periwinkle. BELOW On a good day, the waters around Simon’s Town are crystal clear and multiple shades of green-blue.
enturesis GravityAdv guided thefirsttooffer inSA coasteering