Learn more about South Africa's Cape fur seals

5 Fun Facts About Cape Fur Seals

Welcome to the fascinating world of Cape fur seals, one of the most charismatic marine creatures found in the waters around Hout Bay. As the original seal island tour operator, we’re thrilled to share five intriguing facts about these playful creatures that inhabit our iconic Seal Island and beyond. So, grab your virtual snorkel and dive into the depths of knowledge about our seals!

Cape fur seals diving around Seal Island in Hout Bay
Always showing off, Image Credit: Animal Ocean Seal Snorkeling

1. Aquatic Acrobats

Cape fur seals are renowned for their playful and acrobatic behaviour in the water. From somersaults to barrel rolls, these agile creatures never fail to impress with their underwater antics. Watching them twist and turn with grace and agility is a delightful sight on our boat tours.

2. Incredible Adaptations

Cape fur seals boast a remarkable set of adaptations that allow them to thrive in their marine environment. Their dense fur coat, composed of short, water-repellent hairs, helps keep them warm in the chilly ocean waters. Additionally, their streamlined bodies and flipper-like limbs enable them to navigate through the water with remarkable agility, making them adept hunters of fish and squid.

Cape fur seals on Duiker Island outside of Hout Bay
Visiting Hout Bay’s seal colony

3. Social Creatures

South Africa’s seals are highly social animals, often congregating in large colonies both on land and at sea. At Seal Island, you can witness the bustling energy of Hout Bay’s colony as seals playfully interact with one another, bask in the sun, and engage in spirited vocalisations. Watching these social dynamics unfold is a memorable experience for anyone lucky enough to visit.

4. Impressive Diving Abilities

Cape fur seals are renowned for their impressive diving abilities. They are capable of descending to depths of over 200 metres in search of food. Equipped with large lung capacities and efficient oxygen storage mechanisms, they can remain submerged for extended periods, gracefully navigating the underwater realm in pursuit of their next meal.

Portrait of Cape fur seal swimming in Hout Bay
Look at these whiskers!

5. Whisker Wonders

One fun fact about Cape fur seals is their unique whiskers, which are highly sensitive and play a crucial role in their hunting abilities. These long, sensitive whiskers help them detect vibrations and movements in the water, allowing them to locate prey with remarkable precision, even in murky conditions. It’s a fascinating adaptation that showcases the ingenuity of these incredible marine mammals.

See Hout Bay’s Cape Fur Seals

Ready to witness the wonder of Cape fur seals in Hout Bay? Join us for an unforgettable boat tour to Seal Island, where you’ll have the chance to observe these charismatic creatures in their natural habitat. Book your tour today and get ready to create lasting memories amidst the breathtaking beauty of Hout Bay’s marine wonders!

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Kayaking in sunny Hout Bay - Best 18 Activities in Hout Bay 2024

The Best 18 Activities in Hout Bay 2024

Hout Bay is our home and we simply cannot get enough of that coastal charm that makes our self-proclaimed republic so unique. As experts in the area, our very own seal island boating business has been running for more than 50 years, we want to share our top activities in Hout Bay with you. So, don’t forget to add Hout Bay to your Cape Town itinerary and look forward to many maritime adventures.

The best activities to do in Hout Bay in 2024
Hout Bay has something to offer for everyone

1. Seal Island Boat Trips

We usually don’t like to blow our own horn, but you should not miss out on a classic seal island boat cruise with us. The 45-min trip allows you to admire Hout Bay from the ocean and observe the adorable Cape fur seals around Duiker Island.

2. Chapman’s Peak Drive

Ever wanted to feel like you’re in a car commercial? Chapman’s Peak Drive is the epitome of coastal drives. And without doubt one of the most popular activities in Hout Bay. Feel the wind in your hair while the waves of the Atlantic ocean crash beneath you. Even if you don’t drive a convertible, the views are stunning and the lookout spots are plenty!

Chapman's Peak Drive in Hout Bay, one of the most popular activities in Hout Bay
Enjoy magnificent views on Chapman’s Peak Drive

3. Bay Harbour Market

The Bay Harbour Market opens its doors from Friday (for a fun evening) to Sunday. Expect to find handcrafted jewellery, paintings, woodwork and other gems. Treat yourself to delicious food – there are countless savoury and sweet options to choose from. One of the best activities in Hout Bay, it’s a vibe!

4. The Clay Café

A relaxed afternoon at the Clay Café is the perfect family activity in Hout Bay. Find your inner artist and paint beautiful ceramics – from vases and mugs to unicorn figurines and plates. The spacious outdoor area boosts a big playground for kids. Combine this with healthy food and you’ve got yourself the perfect outing for young and old.

5. Beach Bliss

Feel the sand between your toes and wander along Hout Bay’s beautiful sand beach. Locals love walking their dogs along the coastline and you’ll find many families with kids building sandcastles. If the conditions are great, why not rent a surfboard and catch some waves?

Kayaking activity in Hout Bay at sunset
Join us on a kayaking tour in the bay

6. Kayaking

Join Cape Town Kayaks on a group or private paddling adventure in Hout Bay. Tide permitting, you’ll start by venturing under the harbour wall, a true adventure. Look out for fish and crabs in the clear waters around the harbour. Then, you’ll continue along the beach all the way to the other side of the bay, where Chapman’s Peak Drive begins. Eventually, you’ll head back to the harbour, where you’re greeted by seals. What a fun workout on a sunny day!

7. Fish and Chips at Snoekies

Do we have to say more? Nothing tops a lekker fish n chips at Snoekies, a Hout Bay institution. The fresh sea breeze simply calls for fried fish fillets and potatoes. Plus, Snoekies is located at the other end of the harbour, just a stone’s throw away from the Hout Bay market.

8. Mariner’s Wharf

Harbour charm: Before you embark on a seal island tour with us, we highly recommend taking a stroll down to Mariner’s Wharf. Stock up on maritime décor at the souvenir shop or enjoy lunch at the restaurant. There are also various vendors selling African art, wooden figures and beaded animals.

Book your Seal Snorkelling adventure - one of the top activities in Hout Bay - with Circe Launches
Snorkel with Cape fur seals

9. Snorkelling with Seals

Animal Ocean Seal Snorkeling allows you to dive into the natural habitat of Hout Bay’s Cape fur seals. Snorkel around the kelp forest and watch the seals play in the waters. Experienced guides are always at your side to ensure a safe underwater adventure. Book your snorkelling tour today!.

10. World of Birds

More than 3,000 birds and 400 species, including mammals and reptiles, have found refuge at this sanctuary. Nestled between forest and mountains, World of Birds is one of the most popular activities in Hout Bay. You can even take the hop-on hop-off bus to get there before heading to the harbour.

11. Dinner at Chef’s Warehouse

Are you a fan of fine dining? The restaurant Chef’s Warehouse at the boutique hotel Atlantic Tintswalo serves exquisite food in a breathtaking setting. While you sip on your favourite cocktail or a glass of champagne, you can watch the sun set behind the Sentinel. Enjoy multiple courses, all perfectly curated. Make sure you book your table as soon as possible.

Views over Hout Bay and Sentinel at sunset
Hiking in Hout Bay promises great views over mountains and ocean

12. Hiking

Since Hout Bay is surrounded by mountains, it’s no surprise that hiking is also very popular. Hout Bay Corner is a moderate route, ideal for everyone who doesn’t want to commit to a full day outing. If you prefer a little bit of a challenge, the Chapman’s Peak Hike is the right choice for you. Whichever path you choose, please make sure to follow all safety precautions.

13. Horseback Riding

Why not go for a little horse ride? There are options in Hout Bay itself, but you can also drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive and explore the long sandy beach in Noordhoek on horseback. You don’t need to be an experienced rider in order to have a great time.

Noordhoek beach on the other side of Chapman's Peak Drive
Noordhoek, on the other side of Chapman’s Peak Drive

14. Urban Brewing Co.

The Urban Brewing Company is right next to the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay. If you like craft beer, you don’t want to miss out on this experience. Their creations are inspired by Bavarian beer culture and you are able to buy lager by the litre. A little bit of Oktoberfest feeling in South Africa!

15. Art Galleries

Stunning views of mountains, forest and ocean bring lots of artists to Hout Bay. Make sure to visit the family-run Hout Bay Gallery. You might even find paintings, sculptures and fine art prints for your own home. And who knows, our home might inspire you to become creative as well.

16. Imizamo Yethu Experience

A walking tour through the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement is one of the most authentic cultural activities in Hout Bay. A local resident will take you on a 40-minute walk through the township and introduce you to the people of the busy settlement.

Southern Right whales in South Africa
Whale season brings lots of visitors

17. Dolphin & Whale Watching

Southern Right Whales come to South African water between June and November every year. But technically, you can see them or Humpback Whales anytime of the year. During whale season, we are often lucky enough to spot these ocean mammals on our seal island tours. In addition, there is a mega pod of dolphins that regularly returns to our bay for a fishy meal.

18. Llandudno Beach

Cape Town has many dream beaches, but Llandudno next to Hout Bay is a firm favourite among locals and visitors. White sand, boulders and turquoise water make your sunbathing dreams come true. Parking is limited, so arrive early.

We hope you find our list of top activities in Hout Bay helpful. Make sure to visit our neighbourhood during your next stay in Cape Town. We can’t wait to welcome you in our vibrant republic.

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Private charter in Cape Town with Circe Launches in Hout Bay

Unleash the Extraordinary: Your Private Charter in Cape Town

A private charter in Cape Town? Yes, please! There’s nothing quite like going on a cruise with Circe Launches in stunning Hout Bay. Our private charter experience is not just a journey, it’s a memory that you’ll cherish forever. No matter if it’s personal or business, a private charter with us is always a good idea.

Hout Bay harbour - book your private charter in Cape Town with Circe Launches
Let’s go cruising!

Unique Venue for a Big Day

Celebrating a special occasion? Circe Launches is your canvas for creating magical moments. Whether it’s a milestone birthday or an anniversary, the backdrop of Hout Bay adds an unparalleled touch of elegance to your festivities. Without the constraints of a traditional venue, your special day becomes an open sea of possibilities (pun intended!).

For those who prefer a more relaxed vibe, picture this: a sundowner party with friends aboard a private charter. As the sun dips below the horizon, turning the sky into a canvas of warm hues, your group can revel in the joy of friendship against the tranquil backdrop of Hout Bay. It’s a sundowner soiree that goes beyond the ordinary – an exclusive gathering where laughter and connection are set against the mesmerising tapestry of a South African sunset.

Enjoy magical sunsets on your private charter in Cape Town - Hout Bay
Enjoy magical sunsets on your private boat tour

Where Business is Fun

Imagine turning your next work function into a sea-bound sensation. We offer the perfect setting for team-building, strategic discussions, and a break from the usual office grind. Picture your colleagues soaking in the fresh sea breeze as you navigate the waters together, fostering camaraderie while enjoying the breathtaking views of Chapman’s Peak Drive. It’s not just another work function, it’s a corporate escape that will leave a lasting impression.

Book Your Private Charter in Cape Town now

So, whether it’s work, celebration, or simply a sunset with friends, let us make your outing memorable. What are you waiting for? Let’s book your private charter in Cape Town with Circe Launches. We’re looking forward to welcoming you on board!

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Explore the Cape fur seal colony on Duiker Island near Hout Bay with Circe Launches

Duiker Island: Where Cape Fur Seals Steal the Show

Just outside of Hout Bay, Duiker Island – also known as Seal Island – is home to about 64,000 individual Cape fur seals. Between 5,000 and 7,000 try to find a sunny spot on the island at once. When it comes to seals in Cape Town, this rocky outpost is where our seals truly steal the show.

Discover Duiker Island with Circe Launches

It only takes you about 20 minutes to get to Duiker Island on our glass-bottom boat Calypso. As our vessel draws closer, the playful antics of these marine maestros become a performance that rivals any blockbuster. Besides Cape fur seals, the area is also known for marine birds such as common cormorants and kelp gulls. Occasionally, you might also spot a seal elephant that seeks our waters seasonally.

Duiker Island and its Cape fur seals
Seal Island and its Cape fur seals

Only 95 x 77 metres in size, Duiker Island isn’t just a destination, it’s a front-row seat to the fascinating world of Cape fur seals in South Africa. From basking in the sun to agile dives into the cool Atlantic Ocean, these creatures create a living mosaic of natural wonder.

A Haven for Cape Fur Seals

Seals in Cape Town may be a common sight, but Duiker Island takes it to the next level. As you navigate the waters surrounding the island, the air is filled with the unmistakable sounds of seals engaging in their daily symphony. And yes, you can smell them, too. That’s also part of Mother Nature. But don’t worry, the fresh sea breeze ensures that your seal island cruise is an enjoyable outing.

Playful Cape fur seal pup near Duiker Island - see them with Circe Launches
Playful seal pup near Duiker Island

Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or just seeking a unique adventure, Duiker Island promises an encounter with Cape fur seals that fascinates young and old. These charismatic creatures make every visit a dynamic and ever-changing experience, ensuring that no two trips are alike. If you want to get even closer to our marine animals, make sure to book a seal snorkelling trip.

Circe Launches Seal Island Boat Tour in Hout Bay, Cape Town
Explore Duiker Island with us

Book Your Seal Island Tour now

So, if you find yourself in Hout Bay, make sure to join us on a cruise to Duiker Island. Witness our Cape fur seals in their natural habitat and let the magic of this marine spectacle leave an indelible mark on your weekend getaway or holiday. Your rendezvous with Cape Town’s seals awaits – and Seal Island is where the curtain rises on this extraordinary wildlife performance.

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Circe Launches Seal Island Boat Tour in Hout Bay, Cape Town

A Seal Island Cruise with Circe Launches

As you venture along the Cape Peninsula, a visit to Hout Bay and Duiker Island is a must. Join us, Circe Launches, a trusted name in boat excursions for the past 50 years, on a seal island cruise. We ensure a memorable experience aboard our glass-bottom boat Calypso. Here’s what you can expect from our seal island boat trips.

Explore the Cape fur seal colony on Duiker Island near Hout Bay with Circe Launches
Get ready to see countless Cape fur seals in their natural habitat

Upon entering Hout Bay Harbour, our friendly staff is ready to greet you warmly. Our ticket kiosk is conveniently located right next to the parking area. Simply look out for our big sign.

Explore Hout Bay from the water

Our cruise commences by gliding past the Hout Bay Yacht Club Marina. As we navigate the waters, historical landmarks unfold, such as West Fort, a relic from 1781, built by the Dutch East India Company and the French. Strategically positioned, the fort’s cannons once guarded the bay’s center.

Chapman's Peak Drive in Hout Bay
Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most stunning coastal roads in the world

Further along, Chapman’s Peak Drive graces the port side, while Sentinel Mountain stands tall on the starboard side. Chapman’s Peak Drive with its many outlook points and picnic spots, a marvel completed in under eight years in 1922, is another highlight you should add to our travel list.

Approaching Duiker Island, our skipper positions the boat for an up-close encounter with the curious Cape fur seals. Calypso’s glass-bottom viewing compartment promises spectacular glimpses of kelp forests and marine life beneath the boat – get a scuba-diver’s view without the need to get wet.

Playful Cape fur seal pup in Hout Bay - see them with Circe Launches
We’re the only ones with a glass-bottom boat in Hout Bay

Seals, dolphins, whales and so much more

After spending time with the seal colony, Calypso sets course back to the bay, where dolphins and whales may grace your journey, depending on the season. We at Circe Launches ensure an immersive and educational maritime experience, leaving you with treasured memories of Hout Bay and its fascinating marine life. Let’s hop on board! Book your cruise tickets today. We look forward to welcoming you on board!

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50 years of Circe Launches in Hout Bay, photo from the 1970s

Celebrating 50 Years of Circe Launches in Hout Bay

2023 marked the golden jubilee of Circe Launches, an integral part of Hout Bay’s maritime heritage. Since its inception in 1973, the family business has played a vital role in supporting the local community and tourism industry in Hout Bay.

Hout Bay harbour - home of Circe Launches
Our home Hout Bay

50 Years of Seal Island Tours

As the original and first seal island boat trip operator in Hout Bay, we have welcomed more than 5 million passengers from all over the world. It all began with the transformation of the two old air-sea rescue vessels “Circe” and “R9”.

Since 2001, “Calypso”, the glass-bottom boat, has taken ocean lovers out to Duiker Island. The 22 metre-long vessel offers (shaded) seating outside as well as sheltered seating inside. Well-trained skippers navigate guests safely through the bay while sharing lots of interesting fun facts about the coastal town and its history.

See Cape fur seals with Circe Launches in Hout Bay
Cape fur seals are our business

Become part of the Circe Launches family

The 50th anniversary celebration serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring strength of Hout Bay’s maritime heritage and the role that Circe Launches continues to play in shaping the maritime future of this coastal gem. Cheers to 50 years of Circe Launches – a beacon of resilience, unity, and maritime excellence in Hout Bay!

Image Credit: Hout Bay Yacht Club

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