In the Skin of a Sailor

Hout Bay is known for its harbour, which welcomes sailors and fishermen from all around the world. For years, the sea has been the protector of the residents of the bay. It has brought food and opened the bay to the entire world by developing the fishing trade with many countries, from Asia to America. It first started with the San and the Khoi who used to catch hake and cray fish in the bay. Their descendants, the Coloured people, never stopped to perpetuate this tradition. The fishing and the sea became an entire part of their culture. Until today, lots of people from the Hangberg community keep working on sea…

But to see them, you will have to wake up early, when the sun is about to come up. As everyone is asleep at the Backpacker, you can easily make a cup of tea, or coffee, and seat in our veranda. Until the sunrise, you can let yourself be lulled by the waves, listening the sound of the breeze through the windows. As you are watching the wind blowing outside, you will see them appearing. Boats… One, two, three… They are all leaving the harbour, making their way to the sea. Some are going fishing, some on vacation, and some are navigating until Duiker Island, which is located just behind the Sentinel Mountain, where the Hangberg community is.

Hout Bay Backpacker’s veranda. Picture: Naomi Rio.

As a dreamer, you decide to take a walk to the harbour to finds out more about this Duiker Island. The habour is less than 5 minutes from HoutBayBackpackers. If it is still early the morning when you get there, everyone will be active: boats on departure, few shops opening and sellers starting to prepare the fish caught during the night… You are definitely in the perfect place your dreams to come true.

A sailing ship leaving Hout Bay harbour. Picture: Naomi Rio.

Talking a walk along the habour leads you to where you can book your Seal Island Tour. There are three boat companies in the harbour which go to Duiker Island. It is a 45 minute boat ride, and the first trip leaves at 08:45. Lucky you, it is almost 8:45 and the engines are just starting up! You are just in time to quickly get on board before the skipper leaves the harbour.

On board, there are no regrets. The sea is shiny, and the view is gorgeous, you can see the whole of Hout Bay and Chapman’s peak drive. If you are lucky, you might come across some dolphins or whales! But if you don’t, it is not a problem at all, because once you get to the Island, you will find the cutest treasure ever. The Duiker Island is actually not a pirate’s den, but it is inhabited by a colony of Fur Seals. And they are… a lot! You will have plenty of time to take pictures.

Duiker Island. Picture: Naomi Rio.

On your way back, you will have a new chance to admire the view. If you are feeling a bit hungry after your boat ride, check out a few stalls for some fish and chips (you won’t regret this). Visit a few more stalls for some souvenirs and if the wind starts to blow make your way back to Hout Bay Backpackers.

After the storm, a rainbow on Duiker Island. Picture: Naomi Rio.