1. Whale Watching in Hermanus
Recommended for kids aged 3 years and older. Seasonal activity from July to November.
The perfect outing for a family road trip to spend a day on the outskirts of Cape Town, taking the Whale Route through Gordon’s Bay, Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay to reach Hermanus.
Hermanus, once a small fishing village, is today considered to be the best land-based whale watching spot in the world. Curious Brydes whales, Humpback whales, Southern Right whales, Orca and dolphins can all be seen in Walker Bay from the many vantage points along the coast.
Spotting these magnificence creatures in their natural habitat and pointing them out to your kids is a rewarding experience…especially if they come right up to the coast line. Seeing an animal that can get up to 1.5 tonnes that close is well worth the drive!
For more information on whale watching, read The Ultimate Guide for Whale Watching in Hermanus
2. Visit Fairview and Play with the Goats
Recommended for kids aged 3 years and older.
Fairview is the perfect family-friendly wine farm & cheesery that boasts South Africa’s first goat milk cheese. Fairview Wine Estate, located in Paarl, offers exquisite wine tasting expertly paired with a selection of 6 Fairview cow and goat’s milk cheeses, while the little ones can enjoy a cheese and juice tasting. Everything at Fairview is guided by their philosophy that fresh and homemade is always better.
The absolute main attraction for kids at Fairview is the goats’ tower. The animals climbing up the tower stairway captures the imagination of children and provides hours of entertainment. There is also a large, safely covered pond with enormous koi fish that is a delight for kids and adults alike.
You can find plenty more places to enjoy wine tasting for adults and entertaining activities for youngsters in our 11 best Wine Farms for Families blog post.
3. Horse Riding in the Winelands
Recommended for adventurous kids aged 3 years and older.
Start your day with an adventure by horseback in the Franschhoek valley. There are a number of great trail rides that will highlight the natural and breathtaking beauty of Franschhoek. Ponys are selected for youngsters based on size and experience and a guide will be with you throughout the whole experience.
There is a distinctly French feeling about the Franschhoek Valley. You’ll soon find out why the French Huguenots settled in this fertile region all those years ago. Stop off for lunch at one of the many fantastic restaurants with plenty of outside seating. Visit some of the renowned wine estates and get to know why food connoisseurs and gourmands flock to this region. Maison, in particular, has a great outside area with a lawn under the trees for the kids to play on.
4. Kayak with Penguins at Boulders Beach
Recommended for kids aged 10 years and older (younger children are allowed if accompanied by an adult and conditions are correct).
A family activity to go off the beaten track and watch penguins in their natural environment. Hop aboard a sea kayak in Simon’s Town and paddle past the historic naval harbour where you will be met by a lively colony of African penguins. Away from the crowded shore, you will observe them in their natural habitat. In the event that the ocean is calm, you can possibly stop on a beach for a swim and get even closer to the penguins standing on the rocks nearby.
Your specialist guide and his knowledge about the African penguins get you in total immersion within their environment, mixing adventure and education perfectly for the whole family.
5. Zipline in Elgin
Recommended for kids aged 5 years and older.
A mere hour and a half drive from Cape Town, within the Hottentots Holland nature reserve, get your heart racing on this adrenaline-filled adventure. Previously inaccessible, the site can now be explored thanks to the 13 platforms and the 320m of slides. Zip from platform to platform, passing the breathtakingly beautiful waterfall and valley views, enjoying all that mother nature has to offer.
To accompany your family, two specialist guides will make this adventure accessible for the youngest and their knowledge about this place will give an educational aspect to this experience. Once your heartbeat has slowed back to normal, you can enjoy some wine tastings in the boutique wineries around the area of Elgin, well known for its cool climate wines.
Getting to the departure of the zipline involves a short walk along a mountain trail so don’t forget to bring comfortable walking shoes. In addition, even in the sunniest days, the climate can get chilly at the peaks of the mountains so warm clothes are highly recommended.
6. Seal Snorkeling on the Cape Peninsula
Recommended for kids aged 8 and older.
Observe marine animals in their natural habitat during this exceptional and immersive adventure. After a short boat ride from the coast, the Captain will drop anchor and you’ll be ready to dive into the swell with your goggles, snorkels and flippers securely fastened.
Seals are curious creatures and the connection you get with them while you are in the ocean is difficult to describe. The seals will swim up to you and have a good look, much the same way you are looking at them. They hang upside down in front of you with their tail flippers just above the surface of the water, scrutinising you with their big eyes.
For more information: Seal Snorkeling in Cape Town
7. Learn to Surf in Muizenberg
Recommended for kids aged 10 years and older.
For everything there is a starting point. If you think you do not have the experience to begin to surf, convince your family to join you in the discovery of this surface water sport. Struggling alone is not as funny as trying to take a wave with the whole family watching. This will guarantee you unforgettable moments from your funniest fall to your first wave.
The best spot is situated 30 minutes from the city center in Muizenberg. Considered to be the birthplace of surfing in South Africa, this place where the shore of Cape Peninsula curves round to the east on the False bay coast offers almost every day good surfing conditions. The gentle waves make Muizenberg the perfect place to start your surfing journey.
A family debriefing around an ice-cream or drinks in one of the many coffee shops, bars and restaurants will end this hard and immersive day of work within the local surf culture.
8. Shark Cage Diving
Recommended for big thrill-seeking teenagers aged 10+. Youngest from 6+ can watch sharks from the boat
Experience the excitement of South Africa while you encounter the ultimate underwater predator, the great white shark. This shark cage diving family adventure is both safe and exciting as you come face to fin with the shark in its natural habitat.
Slip into the shark cage for an adrenaline-fuelled brush with a great white shark. The experienced crew will share their vast knowledge of the water world and will be able to answer the trickiest questions from the kids. This marine wonderland is the closest place in the world where you can safely see these apex predators in their natural environment. Not only will you come back with incredible memories but you will also come away knowing a lot more about sharks and what is being done to aid their conservation.
Spend your afternoon at Beaumont Wines Estate. We can affirm that a wine tasting and a family picnic under the fabulous trees of this winery is the miracle cure to recover from your morning rush.
9. Paragliding Lion’s Head
Recommended for teenagers aged age 15 years and older
Paragliding is one of the activities most suited for the mountain landscape of Cape Town, being on the opposite side of the classic way to discover the mountains. This adrenaline and immersive adventure will get you a unique perspective of Cape Town’s skyline. Each person is in tandem with an instructor and can totally enjoy the show that Cape Town offers while your instructor is trying to extend the spectacle as long as possible.
The eagerness of the instructors to share this adventure makes this a long-lasting, adrenaline-high experience for the whole family and, as a rare treat, one that disabled members of your family can enjoy too.
10. Jet Ski around Cape Town’s Table Bay
Recommended for teenagers aged 16 years and older
Get adrenaline-fueled views of Cape Town’s iconic skyline with an uninterrupted panorama of Table Mountain. If you’re lucky, you might have the chance to see dolphins, penguins or the occasional sunfish darting around you in the ocean below.
This is a fantastic way to beat the heat and see a unique side of Cape Town that is fun for kids of any age as well as adults. In case you have a need for speed, these high octane aquatic vehicles are sure to delight even the most adventurous families.
11. Cape Town Scenic Sailing Adventure
Sailing in Table Bay is easily one of the best ways to get a truly unbelievable Cape Town experience. There’s really nothing quite like making your way towards historic Robben Island by boat and looking back onto majestic Table Mountain and Cape Town city bowl in all their magnificent glory. The view you get from the bay is the same iconic imagery you see on almost every postcard and documentary. This is most definitely the perfect place to get the ultimate holiday snapshot.
People often come to South Africa to experience the extraordinary land-based “Big 5” but even a short sailing trip around the Cape can reveal a thriving community of aquatic wildlife. Surprise your littles ones by spotting the magnificent Humpback and Southern Right whales. They can be seen in Cape Town during September and October when they migrate from their breeding grounds in the tropics to the southern oceans, via False Bay.
More importantly, while your kids are spotting the next big whale, you can take a time out and appreciate some delicious local wines and Methode Cap Classique (MCC), the local bubbly.
For more information: Cape Town scenic sailing adventure
12. Family Time at Spier Wine Estate
Spier Wine Estate wins the family-friendly award – there are a variety of activities on the farm no matter what age your kids are. The little ones can taste alongside you with a juice tasting and a colouring/activity sheet which illustrates the role that insects play in vineyards. For animal lovers, the on-premise bird sanctuary, Eagle Encounters, allows kids to see rare birds up close. This is one of the largest raptor rehabilitation centers in South Africa. For the older kids, take them on a Segway tour of the vineyards where they’ll learn about how the vines are grown and cultivated.
13. Table Mountain 4×4 Safari
There’s no question why Cape Town’s Table Mountain was named one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in the world. This topographic masterpiece is nothing short of awe-inspiring. An anchor smack-dab in the middle of Cape Town, you will undoubtedly find yourself simply gobsmacked by its sheer size and beauty. A trip to the top is a bucket list item for any family trip to the Mother City.
Your knowledgeable guide will take you via 4×4 around the circumference of Table Mountain where you’ll learn about the diverse vegetation types that form part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas. There are an estimated 2,285 species of plants found on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula, many of which are endemic to the area and can be found nowhere else in the world.
After a short walk around the historic area, you’ll return to a picnic style lunch with ample cheese, charcuterie and spreads perfectly paired with a wide array of local South African wines from Durbanville Hills. Enjoy your glass of wine while your kids are stuck in front of this wonderful landscape.
Read more about this incredible experience: Table Mountain 4×4 Wine Safari
14. Plant a Garden in the Khayelitsha Township
Here is your opportunity to discover Cape Town authentically. Meet inspiring local residents and artists that are making incredible things across the township. Assist the local residents in an existing sustainability program by planting gardens out of recycled materials. The township tour will end with a traditional “township style” lunch at a local hotpost.
If you are wanting to discover Cape Town as a true insider, continue your day by visiting Woodstock. It is the home of many of Cape Town’s artists and creative types and serves as an open canvas for an array of colourful artworks. Your guide will take you on a journey by foot through the streets and tell you the often inspirational meanings behind the murals posted by both local and international artists. You may even get to meet one or two of the artists in their studios.
15. Abseiling off the Top of Table Montain
Recommended for kids aged 10 years and older.
For truly daring adventurers, abseil off the highest commercial abseiling point in the world, Table Mountain. 100 meter long ropes embedded into the rock will assist you as you rappel down the mountain at 1,000 meters above sea level. This is a superb way to experience 360-degree views of Cape Town that will be sure to make a lasting impression, as long as you’re not afraid of heights.
Descending down the side of a sheer cliff you will have Camps Bay, the Atlantic Seaboard and the deep blue ocean at your feet with the Twelve Apostles at your side. The Table Mountain Abseil is guaranteed to get your heart racing.
16. Butterfly World in Paarl
Recommended for kids aged 3 years and older.
When you step into Butterfly World, you understand that it isn’t only a butterfly zoo, but indeed a sanctuary for exotic animals, where birds and reptiles get extra special care and attention and butterflies fly freely. Discover with your children an exotic world and species that you may have never seen before. Face your fears and handle snakes and spiders with specialised guides.
The passion of the people working at Butterfly World is almost palpable. Besides their remarkable efforts to re-establish the natural environment of the fauna, their willingness to take care of rescued animals is outstanding.
Add Butterly World as a stop-off on a trip out to the winelands, the kids are guaranteed to love it!
17. Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium
Dive deep into the aquarium offering and experience the diverse marine and plant life that can be found off the coast of Cape Town and the Western Cape. Split into two oceans, the South African coast has a variety of marine life, plant life and eco-systems that deserve exploring. Penguins, turtles, sting rays, crabs and sharks are just a few of the types of mammals, as well as birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians that can be found at the Cape Town Two Oceans aquarium. On a visit to the Aquarium, you will quickly learn why South Africa is not only known for its open savanna and land-based wildlife.
There are five exhibits on offer that showcase this exceptional diversity of life: The I&J Ocean Exhibit, the Indian Ocean Gallery, the Atlantic Ocean Gallery, the Penguin Exhibit and the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit. Each one is either a showcase of breath-taking animals, a comparison of different existing sea life environments or an educational experience relating to the conservation of the wonderful life above and below the surface of the ocean.
Additional activities that make for great highlights for any child (or adult) include diving with sting rays and turtles, the environmental education experience or the penguin encounter.
Get clued up and closer to marine life by spending amazing moments with these diverse animals.