A visit to Cape Town isn’t complete without exploring the entire Cape Peninsula. Cape Town proper has enough attractions in its own right, of course, from hiking Table Mountain, to shopping on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, to exploring up-and-coming neighborhoods like East City and sampling traditional Cape Malay cuisine in the Bo-Kaap. But there are also a myriad of day trips you can take from Cape Town. And while wine touring in Stellenbosch is a hit, there are few Cape Town-centric adventures as popular as exploring the peninsula. At the very tip of the peninsula is Cape of Good Hope—a landmark whose historical significance dates back to the 1400s, and whose natural beauty long precedes that. Here’s what you need to know when planning a day trip to the Cape of Good Hope.
Where is the Cape of Good Hope?
The question here is not so much where the Cape of Good Hope is, but where the Cape of Good Hope isn’t. Put another way, there are all too many misconceptions about the geography of the Cape of Good Hope. To set the record straight, the Cape of Good Hope is not the southernmost tip of Africa. It is also not where the Indian and Atlantic Ocean converge.
The Cape of Good Hope is the south-westernmost tip of Africa. And it’s close to where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans converge—the waves are so intense, it certainly seems like the intersection of two oceans. In reality, the point where the Indian and Atlantic meet changes with the currents and the seasons. It’s typically farther east than the Cape of Good Hope.
The Cape of Good Hope is at the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula. It’s about 35 miles and an hour and a half drive from the center of Cape Town.
Just a mile from Cape of Good Hope is Cape Point, which has two lighthouses—the old and the new. The latter still functions as a navigational aid and is one of the “most powerful lighthouses on the South African coast,” according to Thebe Tourism Group, who manages the area around Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. Visitors can hike the two-mile Cape Point Connector Trail from the Cape of Good Hope to the Cape Point Lighthouse.
The History of the Cape of Good Hope
In the South African province of Western Cape, the Cape of Good Hope was originally named the Cape of Storms by Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias in 1488. It was first referred to as the Cape of Storms because of the choppy seas that posed a challenge for ships voyaging east from Europe to India. It was later renamed the Cape of Good Hope by another Portuguese explorer because navigating around the cape allowed for safe passage from Europe to India. The Dutch East India Trading Company descended on the Cape of Good Hope in the early 1600s to ensure Portugal didn’t claim a full-blown monopoly on the eastern spice trade. In the mid-1600s, the Dutch East India Trading Company established the Cape of Good Hope as a refreshment station for ships sailing the spice trade route.
How to See the Cape of Good Hope
The best way to see the Cape of Good Hope is by taking a Cape Peninsula day tour from Cape Town. You can set up the day tour with the concierge at most high-end Cape Town hotels. (When staying at 15 on Orange, Autograph Collection, I simply asked the concierge about a peninsula day tour, and they set one up for me with a private guide. It cost me $350 excluding gratuity.) Properties like Ellerman House and One&Only Cape Town, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner, also have an excellent concierge servic to assist with booking the best local tours or curating hotel-orchestrated adventures.
On a typical peninsula tour, you’ll drive the coast of Cape Town, stopping at a few stunning lookouts and landmarks like Boulder’s Beach (to visit the penguin colony), Cape Point, the Cape of Good Hope, and Simon’s Town for lunch and shopping.
If you’d prefer not to book a tour through your hotel, you can find the tours via local booking sites like Get Your Guide. Alternately, you can work with a luxe tour company like African Travel Inc to curate a Cape Town itinerary with one day dedicated to exploring the Cape Peninsula and the Cape of Good Hope.