Tourism in Cape Town
Cape Town is a popular tourist destination, offering the visitor a wide variety of activities such as water sports (including diving, surfing and sailing), angling, wine-tasting, shopping, scenic drives, mountaineering, hiking, kite-flying, hang-gliding and parasailing, and bird- and whale-watching. Cruises around the Cape of Good Hope are also popular among tourists.
The most popular time for visitors is the summer from October to March, though some visitors from more temperate climates might find the height of summer (December and January) uncomfortably hot. The city also becomes very crowded then as the local holidaymaker's descend on the city for their summer school holidays. The most popular tourist attractions are, in order of popularity: The Victoria & Alfred waterfront, a popular shopping venue with thousands of shops, fine hotels, a world-class marina and an aquarium; Table Mountain, which can be accessed either by walking or a cable car; Signal Hill with the Noon gun, Cape Point; and Boulders Beach, home to a colony of penguins. The Cape Peninsula and the region around Cape Town offer wonderful walking and hiking opportunities from right in the middle of the city where the mountains can be accessed very easily (such as Lion's Head and Devil's Peak) to further a field in the surrounding mountain ranges.
Boat trips can be undertaken from the Victoria & Alfred marina to visit Robben Island . It is a well known spot for windsurfers/kite surfing, mainly in the summer seasons (September to February).
Other boat trips can be undertaken from Simonstown (the main South African naval base) on the False Bay coast to Seal Island and Cape Point and from Hout Bay, a fishing harbor on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, to Duiker Island which has a population of 6000 seals in breeding season dropping to 1500 seals in the off season.
One of the world's largest populations of Southern Right Whales occurs in the breeding season (August to November) and can be found off the coast of the Cape Peninsula and the surrounding coast of the Western Cape . Many local observation points allow sightings from close by. Hermanus is the most famous and whales often come within 100yds of the shore there but they can be seen in False Bay , as can Bryde's Whale, which occur all year. Heaviside's Dolphin is endemic to the area and can be seen from the coast north of Cape Town , especially from Lambert's Bay where boat trips run to view them. Dusky Dolphin can be seen along the same stretch of coast but is more active with a swept back dorsal fin which is distinctly two-toned. This species may be seen from the ferry to Robben Island .
Local wineries offer tasting's and informative tours are available. August and September are the best time to visit the west coast, because the desert comes to life after the winter rains and the wild flowers bloom in profusion.
A cable car system takes visitors to the top of Table Mountain , though it only operates in good weather as gale-force winds can make it dangerous or clouds can obscure the view from the summit. The operating status (open or closed) of the cable car is posted on a signboard at Kloof Nek.