Difference between revisions of "Fish Hoek"
Revision as of 10:00, 29 October 2009
Fish Hoek is renowned for its friendly hospitality, proximity to all sorts of tourist attractions and activities besides boasting one of the best swimming beaches in the Cape. There is also a good suburban railway  link with Cape Town to the north and Simon's Town to the south. As a coastal suburb of Cape Town, Fish Hoek is popular as a residence for commuters and holidaymakers alike. The traditional industries of 'trek' fishing and angling co-exist with the leisure pursuits of surfing, kayaking, sailing and sunbathing.
Fish Hoek or Vissers Baay or Visch Hoek appears on the earliest maps of the Cape. The arrival of European settlers in 1652 forced the indigenous population to leave the area, and during the 1700s farmers appeared in the Noordhoek area. Fish Hoek beach was used on an informal basis for whaling and fishing, but it was not until 1918 that it was laid out as a township.
The first grant of Crown Land in Fish Hoek was granted to Andreas Bruins in 1818. The land was sold several times before being bought by Hester Sophia de Kock in 1883. She was then a spinster of 51 years old. In 1901, late in life, she married a local farmer, one Jacob Isaac de Villiers who came to live with her on the farm.
Although she farmed wheat and vegetables she started providing accommodation for people who wanted to stay in Fish Hoek, and so became the first local tourist entrepreneur. Fish Hoek has remained, with its situation and views, a beacon of extra-ordinary accommodation ever since. Having realized that Fish Hoek was becoming popular she left instructions in her will that the farm was to be surveyed and the land sold as building plots, after the deaths of Hester and Jacob, the land was sold off, the first sale taking place in 1918.
This was the beginning of the town of Fish Hoek. Initially people built holiday cottages but as there was a good train service to Cape Town a more permanent community soon arose. By 1940 it was big enough to be declared a municipality and was administered by the Town Council until 1994. It is now part of the City of Cape Town.
Hester and Issac de Villiers, with other members of their family are buried in the small graveyard next to the NG Kerk (Dutch Reformed Curch) in Kommetjie Road.
The farmhouse on the site of the present Homestead Naval Mess near the railway crossing became an hotel. The original building subsequently burned down in 1947.
Open boat whaling took place in Fish Hoek from 1817 to 1868 where Southern Right and Humpback whales were targeted. The whalers would attack female whales who had arrived to calve, and their newborn. Eventually all the whaling operations were closed down, and nowadays the whales know that it is safe return, and come to False Bay to calve. Whales can be seen from about August to the end of November, however sometimes they arrive as early as June.
In the early days of European settlement False Bay was teeming with fish. Trek fishing has taken place ever since. Harders and yellowtail are the fish most frequently caught but nowadays in greatly reduced numbers. "Trek" is dutch for pull and refers to the pulling in of the net.
The original barn of the Fish Hoek Farm now called Mountain View can be seen in Cottage Lane. It has been converted into two cottages and is not open to the public.
There are 3 main routes to Fish Hoek :
From the north : Via the Main Road (M4) along the east coast of the peninsula. From Cape Town you will pass through Cape Town's southern suburbs before reaching Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Clovelly followed by Fish Hoek.
From the west : Via Kommetjie Road (M65), which leads from Kommetjie, Noordhoek, Sun Valley and Tokai. Note that the road round the west coast of the peninsula from Hout Bay, Camps Bay and Clifton to Noordhoek (Chapman's Peak Drive, the M6) is closed due to rockfalls. It is scheduled to re-open sometime in 2009.
MetroRail  operates frequent and reliable trains from Cape Town to Fish Hoek ; the route goes through the southern suburbs then via Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Clovelly to Fish Hoek. From Fish Hoek the train goes on to Glencairn and Simon's Town. The section from Muizenberg to Simon's Town is right next to the sea and is very scenic. The station is on the corner of Beach and Station roads, one block from the Main Road and a 3 minute walk from the beach itself. Scheduled train times for this route can be found here (look for the "Cape Town-Wynberg-Simon's Town" link).
Golden Arrow  operates frequent buses to Fish Hoek along the Main Road (M4) from Muizenberg to the north and Simon's Town to the south. Buses also ply the route from Kommetjie and Sun Valley (via Kommetjie Road, the M65), Noordhoek (via Noordhoek Main Road, the M6) and Tokai (via Ou Kaapse Weg, the M64). Buses arrive at and depart from the train station (see above).
Fish Hoek "town centre" (the area around the beach, Main Road and train station) is small enough that it can all be covered on foot very easily.
Valyland Shopping Centre is about 15 minutes walk from the beach up Recreation Road.
Longbeach Mall (a large, relatively new shopping centre) is just over 4 km from the beach, westwards on Kommetjie Road (M65). Frequent buses and taxis ply this route ; both leave from and arrive at the train station.
Fish Hoek is rated as a great place for whale-watching and is only a few minutes drive from a colony of penguins at Boulders Beach. From Simon's Town which is about a 15 minute drive there is and shark-diving and a boat trips to see the seals. There are loads of excellent restaurants in Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Simon's Town, Noordhoek, Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, all of which are within 15 minutes drive of Fish Hoek.
The Solole (Khoi San for Buffalo) Game Reserve with its freely roaming game is near Longbeach Mall on Kommetjie Road (M65), as is Imhoff's Farm, which has monkeys, birds, camel rides and a snake park. Unfortunately Solole Game Reserve was liquidated late in 2006 ; a restaurant still operates on the premises but the fate of the reserve and the animals within is unclear.
Next to the beach is the famous catwalk from which you can explore the rock pools and get great views across the bay. Unfortunately a severe storm in 2008 caused a lot of damage to the catwalk and since then parts of it have been (and still are) closed to the public. The catwalk is slated for repair but until this happens there are sections without handrails - potentially dangerous for children or the elderly.
Fish Hoek beach is rated as one of the most beautiful and family friendly beaches in the Western Cape ; along with Boulders Beach near Simon's Town it is probably the best and safest swimming beach in and around Cape Town.
The beach has restaurants and shopping close by, and has changing rooms, showers and an excellent group of lifeguards.
Fish Hoek valley boasts three principle shopping nodes, namely, Longbeach Mall and Sun Valley Mall in the west, the Fish Hoek Shopping District in the east, adjacent to the beach, and Valyland which lies between the two.
There is an excellent selection of dining opportunities available within the Valley, with multiple coffee shops, restaurants, snack bars and take-aways providing a wide variety of choice which should satisfy everyone's tastes.
Some of the better-known places to eat in Fish Hoek include :
Fish Hoek is a "dry" town, which means that there are no bottle stores selling alcohol. You can however order beers, wine and other spirits when in a restaurant or pub.
The reason for this lies in the Deed of Grant when the land was granted to Andreas Bruins, it contained a clause that there should be no wine house on the property. This old law was introduced at the time when wagon deliveries to Simon's Town were common and it served to prevent the drivers from stopping off for a drink (or two or three) and arriving in an intoxicated state in Simon’s Town.
The residents of Fish Hoek were determined to keep bottle stores out of the town. In 1956, after having opposed many license applications they formed an association called The Defenders of Fish Hoek. They succeded in getting the Liquor Act amended so that no further applications would be allowed. Under our new Constitution the Act fell away and after consultation with the local Magistrate residents voted for restaurant and bar licenses only.
A wide variety of accommodation types are available in Fish Hoek, from self catering, to guest houses and hotels.
Kalk Bay a small picturesque fishing village is just around the corner. It has a whole row of quaint little shops and a couple of great eateries, situated right on the sea, where we can drink the great Cape Wines, eat fresh seafood and watch the fishing boats coming in. St James is really great for the littlies, with a safe tidal pool and little changing boxes! Muizenberg has a magnificent beach that goes on for miles, with surfing and good swimming.
Towards Cape Point is the historical village of Simon's Town, a South African Naval base, which is great fun to visit. There is a statue of Just Nuisance, a Teddy Bear Museum and a Gemstone Factory.
A little further on is Boulders Beach, which has a resident Jackass penguin colony. The penguins come right up onto the beach and among the resident's gardens, where they nest. Then on to Cape Point, where two oceans meet there are baboons and lots of wild flowers and animals in the Game and Nature Reserve. Curios are available from the African Arts and Crafts village. Kommetjie is famous for surfing (large waves), crayfishing and bird life.