The chokka capital
Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay may be only 7km apart but they occupy two different worlds. The Bay, unlike the Cape – yes, that’s what they’re called by the locals – is a thoroughly glamorous town that boasts swanky shopping centres, two golf courses and upmarket eateries. And the developments have an attractive, uniform charm thanks to the building regulations requiring nearly all buildings to be white with thatched roofs.
“People from the Cape call us yuppies, and we call them hippies,” says Louis Fouché of Delish Fine Foods, situated in the town’s scenic harbour. “But we’re only kidding around. In the end it comes down to the lifestyle you choose.”
These days, St Francis Bay is regarded as a second Knysna, and it’s growing rapidly. “The town has expanded fast over the past five years,” says Louis. “But it actually remains a small community. Most of the grand houses stand empty all year.”
Despite its excellent services and location, St Francis Bay is a holiday town at heart. The population of 5 000 easily triples during the holiday season. Europeans and Gautengers (and whoever else can afford it) make up the greatest number of visitors – every year they arrive to kick off their shoes at Marina Glades, Santareme and Port St Francis, the town’s fanciest suburbs.
“We locals love it here, because it’s peaceful and safe,” says Louis. “And during the holidays we tolerate the crowds. We may not have the beaches that the Cape has, but have you ever visited the canals at Marina Glades? They are all man-made – really incredible when you think about it. It’s a different kind of beauty.”
“Our town is beautiful,” agrees Michelle Aylesbury, owner of Rambling Rose restaurant. “We have more of a village feel than Cape St Francis does, but we have the same beautiful environment. And everyone knows everyone else. And once a month we organise a lovely market.”
She acknowledges that holiday times can get crazy around here, but she’s not complaining. “It’s important for our businesses; many of the shops open their doors earlier and close later. But there’s also enough to keep us going throughout the year. June has become a busy month thanks to the J-Bay >
“People from the Cape call us yuppies, and we call them hippies. But we’re only kidding around. Ultimately it comes down to the lifestyle you choose.”