And the livin’ is easy …

Melkbosstrand, West Coast
With seven kilometers of beaches, a fresh ocean breeze and commanding views of Table Mountain, Melkbosstrand is a place with perks.

Just north of the buzzy Bloubergstrand, Melkbosstrand offers many of the same vacation amenities with the added benefit of fewer crowds. Developed in 1924 with a few houses, post office and café, this spot, which has grown tremendously, is quintessentially laid-back. And interestingly, it was only incorporated into the Cape Town metropolitan municipality in 1994.

This then was the site of the famous 1806 Battle of Blaauwberg when the occupying French-Batavian troops skedaddled and the Cape became British. An old cannon on the foreshore is the lone reminder of this event.

Unfortunately, few examples of the Colonial Dutch vernacular architecture remain. One is the sad-looking Melkbosch farmhouse. The other is the 18th-century fisherman house, Die Damhuis, now a culinary hotspot and National Monument.

Previously known as Losperd’s Bay, its current name derives from the milkwood, Sideroxylon inerme, according to Peter Raper in the SA Place Names dictionary and botanical expert Dr Peet van der Walt.

The big drawcard is that Melkbos is protected from urban development thanks to the expansive Blaauwberg Nature Conservation zone to the south and the security buffer zones of Koeberg nuclear power station to the north.

But more about the beaches. Main Beach is demarcated by Slabbert se Klippe and further north lies Kapteinsbaai which leads to Van Riebeeckstrand. These beaches tout many oceanic pursuits. However, the great thing is, you’ll find coffee shops and eateries within spitting distance, so when hunger strikes, you won’t have to wander far.

With mysterious misty weather turning to sunny a regular occurrence, there’s a breadth of life to be found in Melkbosstrand. And although it’s officially a big-city suburb, somehow it still maintains its small town roots.