Why is it that 60% of all property sales in Hout Bay are made to people already living in Hout Bay? We decided to poll Hout Bayers for the reasons they love Hout Bay- here are the results!
No 1. Its all about the community: Hout Bay is a self contained valley with only three access roads- the residents enjoy a real sense of belonging and pride to belong to the "Republic of Hout Bay." One English client related how he has lived in the same UK village for forty years, after a few years of visiting he has already made more friends here than back home. Another friend relates how the simple task of buying croissants and the Sunday paper can take up to an hour as everyone wants to say hello.
Even the dogs love to socialise on the beach and most summer evenings finds hundreds of Hout Bayers walking the "Hout Bay Mile" on our beach.
No 2. Naturally Beautiful Our sheltered bay, the world famous scenic route Chapmans Peak Drive meets our working harbour and mountain ranges that form a green valley with mountain streams and rivers, ancient trees and rural ambience. Where else in the world do you find an area which is literally surrounded by more than 1000 square kilometres of National Parks- most of which are World Heritage sites.
There are three white sandy beaches (Llandudno, Sandy Bay and Hout Bay within 5 minutes drive)
Even the 20minute drive to the City Centre is an awesome and invigourating drive.
3. Its closer than you think! Despite the fact that Hout Bay is contained and seems somewhat isolated as a result- it is only 20 minutes to the City Centre, 30 minutes to 5 of Cape Town Tourism's Big 6 (Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Point, Table Mountain, Robben Island and the Waterfront) The Cape Winelands take about 45 minutes, but if you prefer the Constantia Winelands are on our doorstep. (Uitsig, Groot/Klein Constantia, Steenberg)
While everything you need can be got from our local shopping centres there are so many larger malls less than 30 minutes away that we are spoilt for choice (Cavendish, Longbeach, Waterfront, Canal Walk etc)
It is true however that Capetonians all think Hout Bay is much further away than it really is- a perception we don't hurry to change!
No: 4: Active lifestyle: There is so much to do in Hout Bay, that tourists can be forgiven for spending their entire stay here. With a seperate yacht and boat clubhouses and marinas, regular kayaking- (a group of about 150 go out every Tuesday evening in summer) running clubs, mountain biking and cycling, horseriding farms and trails, several walks and not to mention the surfing- including Africa's biggest wave event. Several sporting events pass through Hout Bay- especially the world's largest timed cycle race the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour and the Two Oceans marathon
For those less inclined to exertion there are plenty of picnic spots from awe-inspiring viewpoints- especially popular in late spring when we are visited by the Atlantic Southern Right whales on their way to and from Hermanus.
Sunbathers particularly enjoy our beaches, Hout Bay and Llandudno being great for familes- teenagers particularly enjoying the trendsetters at Llandundo- and if you are looking for that all over tan then Sandy Bay is the beach for you. While adults tend to stay out of the water, kids seem to enjoy frolicking in the sub zero temperatures.
No 5: Hout Bay Harbour: Legend has it that 50 years ago the entire seafloor of the bay was covered with crayfish. Crayfish is still plentiful, as are just about any variety of seafood you can think off. Mariners Wharf, situated at the beginning of the harbour (and the end of the beach) has been rated the 9th most visited tourist attraction in Cape Town. A popular weekend past time is to buy your fish and chips and take a walk down the pier, watching fisherman offload their catches. Mariners Wharf also includes a highly acclaimed restuarant stuffed with naval artifacts, a jewelry shop, curio shop and Hout Bay's only licquor store open 7 days a week.
The harbour is visited every day by scores of busses bringing tourists from all over the world. A popular attraction is a ferry ride on the glass bottomed boats to Seal Island- boats leave every twenty minutes and offer an experience of a lifetime.
Houtbayers in the know often purchase their fish from the restuarant wholesalers in the harbour- prawns, crayfish, tuna- if it were any fresher it would still be in the sea.
Fish on the Rocks is a little secret find- a proper fish and chip take away with a car park level to the sea- very good value for money- follow the harbour road past the industrial area all the way to the end. This is a great place for whale watching.
Plans have been mooted for the eventual redevelopment of the harbour, with the possibility of a large hotel and even a ferry to the Waterfront in Cape Town.
No 6 Hout Bay Heritage: Described by the original Dutch settler Jan van Rieebeck as having "the most beautiful forests seen in the world" Hout Bay was named for its wood- which helped to build Cape Town.
For many years Hout Bay remained farmland with two farmhouses: Kronendal and Moddergat. Kronendal has recently been restored to its former glory as a very successful restuarant Kitimas, and serves as one of the best examples of early Cape Dutch architecture.
Oak trees planted hundreds of years ago can be found all over Hout Bay.
Considered of high strategic importance there are two forts that protect the bay- East Fort and West Fort. East Fort is situated near the beginning of Chapmans Peak Drive and includes several orginal cannons that are fired on special occaisions.
Hout Bay has its own fascinating Museum in Andrews Road, next to the Tourism Information office .
No 7. Best place to bring up a family: One of the biggest attractions to the area is the positive environment in which to bring up children. There are several excellent daycare centres such as Best Buddies, Busy Bees as well as several pre primary schools such as Valley Pre-Primary and a couple of popular Montessori schools. The government schools of Kronendal Primary and Llandudno Primary offer excellent facilities, the Ambleside School offers a Christian based teaching and the private Hout Bay International school offers the GCSE curriculum.
The International school has recently secured land to build a state of the art primary and high school- which is going to considerably increase values in the area. There are several other schools in the area including the Dominican Grimley, Moravian, Hangberg, Sentinel and Hout Bay Hoerskool.
There are also several schools within a 20 minute drive to Hout Bay and each of them enjoy patronage by several Hout Bay families. (Bishops, St Cyprians,Reddam, Herschel, Herzlia, Rustenberg, Wynberg, Camps Bay to name but a few)
8. Proudly South African: During the apartheid years- Hout Bay was known as the Republic of Hout Bay. We had our own passport, our own flag and even our own anthem. Charity organisation would stop cars at the entrances and demand a passport or visa to travel here. It was all done in good fun and there was an element of the area poking fun at the then apartheid government- consistently liberal oppostion parties were elected to represent us. Recently the Consulate of the Republic of Hout Bay was reopened to great fanfare by self appointed Consul Andre Jacobs.
With the new dispensation ushered in 1994 there began a greater migration of rural folk to urban areas, searching for better jobs and schooling.The government has been unable to cope with the demand for housing which in the meantime translates to shanty towns with often undesirable conditions. A recent report indicates that South Africa's population will shift from 60% rural to 70% urban by 2020. In the short term this means more settlements intergrating exisiting areas.
Hout Bay's squatter population grew from about 2000 people until it was declared an informal settlement, and steps have been made to formalise the township. A govenment census puts the population at just under 10 000, but realisitically that number is at least double that amount.
Several years ago the conditions in the Imizamo Yethu townships were greatly improved thanks to an Irish benefactor Niall Mellon. He organised grants from the Irish government together with his own funding and built several hundred houses. Irish builders and volunteers were specially flown in for the task.
Government have further committed to provide further infrastructure in the way of housing, business and amenities. Recent consultations are nearing an end and a massive budget is allocated to completely formalise the settlement.
Despite predictions to the contrary Hout Bay prices for the most part did not suffer and consistently continue to rise at a level higher than that of national averages.
It would appear that Hout Bay prices absorbed the shock of an intergrated area but as a result still offers property at comparably excellent values especially when compared to areas like Llandudno, Camps Bay and Constantia.
With the current formalisation there will be a need to relocate people not just from Hout Bay but from several other locations- government have already said that there preference is for intergrated areas between the rich and poor (ala Europe) almost all areas have goverment owned land that will be suitable for this purpose- and will eventually need to absorb the impact on their property prices.
Unlike other areas in Cape Town, there is no further land available in Hout Bay. Hout Bay now enjoys the benefits of intergration including easy access to the job pool especially for domestic services, as well as the opportunity to learn and intergrate with a broader spectrum of South Africans.
9: World famous restuarants: Every possible cuisine is represented here- obviously Seafood is most popular- the Seafood Capital of Cape Town but there are also many bistro's, coffee shops, watering holes and steakhouses.
10. Neighbourhood Watch: When we started the NW in 2004 one of the most difficult decisions we had to make was to actively publicise the problems with crime in our area. Even today the police will not release crime stats for most areas. The decision to educate the Hout Bay public paid off- because by creating awareness the population created pressure on the police and paid private security companies to protect them.
The downside is that misinformed people from other areas think that Hout Bay has a crime problem simply because we were the only area collating results and lobbying for change. Unscrupulous estate agents from other areas are particularly fond of bringing up the so called Hout Bay crime problem even when their area has similar if not worse problems.
In the first year the Watch was able to cut down opportunistic crime such as burglaries by as much as 67%. Regular patrols using hand held radios cut down the response time to alarm activations by less than 3 minutes. It is not unusual for the response to include more than four vehicles in under five minutes.
Hout Bay was divided into 30 sectors and in the poorer areas the problem was addressed by street committees. The time freed up for the police meant they were able to spend more time addressing crime issues.
Primarily the success has been crime prevention- with a constant hgh visibility. In 2006 the South African Police service opened an R8million police station at the entrance to Imizamo Yethu significantly decreasing crime in the immediate area.
Most of the crime now occurs within the poorer areas, and are often drink or drug related. Remove those stats and actually Hout Bay becomes one of the safer areas within the Cape Metropole. When there is crime it is reported quickly and the information sent to the 3000 members of the Watch. Perhaps because of the fact that it is very simple to close off the three roads leading into Hout Bay, crimes like hijackings are almost non-existent.
Some areas have been able to report very low incidents of crime, almost non existent, while others have crime far lower than in comparison to areas like Constantia, Rondebosch, Claremont, Camps Bay etc.
Its one of the reasons we love Hout Bay- we have tackled the crime problem head on by being proactive and avoiding complacency!
Thats our list......and oh could we go on and on!