History of Hout Bay

Province; Western Cape
Coordinates: 34°2′S 18°21′E
Area; 28.38 km2
Municipality: City of Cape Town

When the Dutch established a colony at the cape in 1652 they needed timber for ship maintenance, building and fuel. There were no trees to speak of in Table bay, due to drier conditions and of course the wind. Fortunately, the Southern slopes of table mountain were covered in forests. Hout Bay means Wood Bay from the original Dutch name.

The fishing village was established in about 1867 when Jacob Trautman, a German immigrant began to fish and farm in the area. It also has a sheltered natural harbour and the area was briefly occupied by the French in 1788. Until the early 50s, this was mainly an agricultural area as the valley was separated from the city bowl by the mountains. Hout Bay is one of the busiest harbours in the Western Cape where there is a thriving fishing industry, yet the area was only connected to electricity in 1947.

The Hout Bay beach is flat with white sand about 50 to 100 meters wide which stretches about a kilometre from Chapman’s Peak Drive (M6) in the east to the fishing boat harbour in the west. There is loads of parking. There are lifesavers on duty at this beach where kayaking and kite flying are popular.

The Dutch were not the first to settle in Hout Bay. The San and the Khoi people had lived in the bay for hundreds of years. At this time, they were the most important population of Southern Africa. In Hout Bay, the Khoi and the San were living a pastoral life, by hunting and fishing. They were sharing the bay with lots of animals, some people even say that Hout Bay was inhabited by lions.
After the Dutch took over, Hout Bay still survived as an agricultural and fishing community. For over three hundred years, people from different parts of Europe came to live in the bay: English, Scottish… They started to construct a small fishing harbour, which was even occupied by the French in the end of the 1780s. But until 1950, despite the fishing potential of the Bay, the lands were used primarily for the forests and the mining industries.
In 1950, the government published the Group Areas Act, which allocated reserved residential areas to each racial category. This meant that in Hout Bay, the beach and the bay were reserved to the “Whites”, while the Sentinel Mountain was attributed to the “Coloureds”, which is known as the “Hangberg community”.

Courtesy Cape Town Historical Society  Jason Patrick Hanslo 

The postcodes for Hout Bay are 7806 (streets) 7872 (boxes)


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Things to do and see

  • Kronendal Estate
  • Chapmans peak drive
  • Hout Bay Common Park Outdoor Gym  Bainskloof Road, Hout Bay
  • Surf at “The dungeons”
  • Grootkop and Judaspeak trail
  • Hout Bay Grailstone
  • Suikerbossie sacred cave and equinox rocks
  • The bronze leopard of Hout Bay was sculptured by Ivan Mitford-Barberton in 1963. He,  donated it to the Hout Bay community. The sculpture is memorial to the wild animals that once freely roamed the peninsula.
  • The Grail Stone, on the Constantiaberg, is a triangular rock with a hole in it that captures the setting sun at the summer solstice. The hole is just wide enough to accommodate the movement of the Earth, termed precession, which takes place over 41 000 years
  • The 4 km Oude skip hike begins at the at top of Eustegia road, turn left and walk 2 km along the contour path. You will be able to see the wrecked ship from here. Turn round a return by the same route.
  • Hout Bay Parkrun every Saturday 8.00 am Ambleside School, 54 Milner Road, Hout Bay

Useful Numbers in Hout Bay

  • Police: 021 791 9300
  • Traffic department: Hill star 021 444 3811
  • Fire: 021 480 7700
  • Water:0860 103 089
  • Electricity:0860 103 089
  • Ambulance: 10177
  • Post office; 021 790 1740
  • Library: 021 791 7660
  • The Hangberg Advice office: 079 044 4292
  • Closest hospital; Hout Bay Family Medical Centre 021 790 3120
  • Clinic; Hout Bay Harbour Community Health Clinic 021 790 1050
  • Hout Bay recreation centre and Hout Bay civic centre:021 400 3647
  • SPCA: Animal rescue group-021 790 0283
  • Schools: Hout Bay International School 021 791 7900
    Aambleside school 021 790 4449
    Kronendal primary 021 790 2060
    Disa primary school 021 200 0790
    Hout Bay High School 021 790 4951
    Hout Bay Secondary School 021 790 4951
    Oranjekloof mor primary 021 790 3350
  • Ratepayers association:021 790 0268  info@houtbayratepayers.co.za
  • Hout Bay Recreation centre:021 790 5673 Karbonkel Road
  • Hout bay tourism :021 217910747

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