Sailing Cape Town

The Mother City sprawls across much of an Atlantic Ocean peninsula and with so much open ocean on our doorsteps, boating travel and tours have become an exhilarating alternative way to explore the Cape. And options are incredibly varied, so whether you’re looking for thrifty, thrilling adventure on the open seas or a leisurely and luxurious sunset cruise, you’re guaranteed to find the right vessel at the right budget.

Drumbeat Charters, Hout Bay Harbour 

Visit Hout Bay’s Seal Island

A short boat ride outside the glittering Atlantic Ocean harbour of Hout Bay you’ll find a small outcrop of Peninsula rocks carpeted and cramped with Cape fur seals. Drumbeat Charters runs multiple daily boat cruises of approximately 40 minutes each. These depart from Hout Bay Harbour and take explorers to Duiker Island, where you can watch the seals lying like fat logs on the rocks, frolicking in the surf, and interacting with each other. You might also spot dolphins or whales on your way out to sea, as well as many different species of marine birds.

Cost: R110 for adults | R60 for children | free for tots under two years

Chapman’s Peak Cruises

Add a little world-famous scenery to your boat trip with Drumbeat Charters’ harbour cruise of Duiker Island and Chapman’s Peak, a dramatic mountain range that’s home to one of the world’s most scenic (and, at times, hair-raising) drives. The cruise departs from Hout Bay Harbour, takes in Duiker Island, and then returns along the steep, cave-dotted cliffs of Chapman’s Peak. The entire trip takes approximately one hour.

Cost: R110 for adults | R60 for kids | free for tots under two years old

Sunken Shipwreck Cruise

The third cruise in Drumbeat Charter’s offering is a one-hour trip to the Cape fur seals at Duiker Island, followed by the Atlantic border of Kabonkelberg to Moari Bay, which is a notorious graveyard for unlucky, storm-tossed ships!

Cost: R110 for adults | R60 for kids | free for tots under two years old

Drumbeat Charters

Waterfront Adventures 

Sail around Table Bay on a 39-ft sailing Catamaran

Embark upon a thrilling, yet comfortable sailing experience along the Atlantic seaboard, showcasing the iconic views of Table Mountain and the Mother City. Escape Cat, A 39-ft catamaran, accommodates up to 40 passengers on her foredeck and trampolines, or, if the weather is iffy, in the aft undercover with the captain. Guests will receive a welcome glass of sparkling wine when their sailing experience begins. Non-alcoholic beverages can be purchased on board but if you want more than one glass of bubbly, you’re welcomed to bring your own booze.

Cost: R210 for adults | R110 for kids aged 3 – 11 | free for tots 0 – 2

The Spirit of Victoria

The Spirit of Victoria is a traditionally designed 58-ft Gaff Rigged Schooner, easily identified in the bay by her red brick brown sails. Built to seat 45 passengers, the Spirit of Victoria offers regular sailing trips from the historic Victoria & Alfred Waterfront to Table Bay: an authentic, laid-back experience to remember! Each guest gets two glasses of bubbly, although there is an onboard cash bar selling other beverages. In total, the trip takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Cost: R210 for adults | R110 for kids aged 3 – 11 | free for tots 0 – 2 

Waterfront Adventures also run longer sunset and champagne cruises and shorter harbour tours on both their Escape Cat and the Spirit of Victoria (see website for costing and further details).

Wild Horizons Waterfront Adventures
Wild Horizons Waterfront Adventures

Robben Island Tours

As the place of imprisonment of beloved South African icon, Nelson Mandela, Robben Island hardly needs an introduction. The island, which no longer serves as a prison, has been preserved as a historical site and an important conservation area and breeding ground for several marine bird species. The Robben Island ferry departs from Quay 4 at the V&A Waterfront every day, weather depending. Whilst on the island, guests will be taken of a tour of its famous historical sites, including the very prison cell where Nelson Mandela languished for 27 years. The entire tour takes about 3 hours 30 minutes.

Cost: R380 for South African adults | R220 for kids under 18 | R550 for non-South Africans adults | R300 for kids under 18 

Robben Island Tours
Robben Island Tours

Luxury Yacht Charters

For those with a taste for opulence, Luxury Yacht Charters offer a staggering array of private boating experiences, from day trips of anything between one and seven hours to full day, sunset, and even overnight and seven-day charters. They maintain a gorgeous fleet of high-end vessels outfitted with all the luxury amenities you could want and need to enjoy an hour, several hours, or even several days cruising around the peninsula. For more information on pricing and packages, check out the website.

Of particular note for those looking for an epic spoil are the overnight tours on the Princess Emma…

Overnight on the Princess Emma

Power cruise the Cape Town waters from fabulous Clifton Beach to the Langebaan lagoon in world class elegance, while being entertained by the irresistible charm and cuisine offered on the Princess Emma. With four luxurious en-suite cabins, all independently air-conditioned, this gorgeous vessel can accommodate eight overnight guests. The rosewood and cherry finishes throughout combine with the soft furnishings to create an atmosphere of timeless elegance and unrivalled comfort. The wide aft deck offers alfresco dining for eight and the swimming platform provides easy access to the water. Sun beds adorn the spacious fly bridge and fore deck.

Cost: For one to two nights for a maximum of eight passengers, R81,000 per night | for three to six nights, R65,000 per night | for seven nights, R55,000 per night

Luxury Yacht Charters - The Princess Emma
Luxury Yacht Charters – The Princess Emma

The Jolly Roger Pirate Ship

This is one for the kids (and the young at heart!) The Jolly Roger is the only pirate boat in South Africa and offers swashbuckling adventure to those who ride aboard her! Not surprisingly, it’s particularly popular as a party boat for themed year-end functions, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and for families with young children. The Jolly Roger Pirate Boat comes complete with a private lounge, dancing pole, bar area, and DJ (on request).

Cost: R200 per adult for morning, lunchtime, and afternoon cruises | R360 for sunset (includes complimentary sparkling wine) | R100 for kids aged 0 to 12 | R180 for sunset | R80 for school kids [prices according to website].

The Jolly Roger Pirate Ship
The Jolly Roger Pirate Ship

Sport Motor Yachts 

Princess Skye Motor Yacht Private Cruise Charter

The Princess Skye is much more than just a boat cruise! This 45-ft luxury yacht, which docks behind the Cape Grace Hotel at the V&A Waterfront, has been designed to deliver a magnificent experience, whether you’re after a romantic, ocean-faring adventure or are a group of friends celebrating a special occasion. Expect a five-star cruise with a hostess to take care of all your needs: bringing you blankets when you’re warm and keeping your champagne glass topped up.

Cost: Various, depending on details of private charter

Sun and Sea Safari

Embark upon an adventurous two-hour cruise from the V&A Waterfront marina in search of marine wildlife and the ocean’s “Big Five”: whales, dolphins, seals, sunfish, and penguins. This cruise with Sport Motor Yacht includes complimentary drinks and snacks (local beers, wines, sparkling wines, and soft drinks) and can accommodates a maximum of 12 guests.

Cost: R19,800 for up to 12 guests

Sport Motor Yachts
Sport Motor Yachts