Cape Town Loves a Good Shark Dive: Passport!

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Cape Town is famous for so many things, from sushi to crocodile steak and seafood, that there’s a dilemma of Thierry Henry vs. Taye Diggs proportions emerging here. Translation, identifying the best of South Africa’s jewel city is a killer choice, ladies.

As the world’s only country to voluntarily abandon their nuclear weapons program, Cape Town makes up for the missing drama with local food wars, making it a food lover’s dream and a diet’s arch nemesis. If the biltong doesn’t get you, the wine list will. Political turbulence aside, the spirit of optimism which has taken on shades of grey in some parts of the country still burn there and as a South African proverb says “When you have a lot to do, start with a meal.” Let’s eat!

Here are a few places to munch, stay, people watch and drink in the Rainbow City:

Stay: South African relatives are always mercilessly teasing us Brits for our “interesting” weather so their understanding of multi-weather planning is pretty restricted (‘But it’s summer I won’t need an umbrella, right?’ How adorable.) and they are equally perplexed by the sea of black outfits about during the London morning commute. South Africans are a rainbow nation reflected in their love for colour so the Daddy Long Legs Hotel (134 & 263 Long Street, Cape Town, South Africa, +27 (21) 422 3074) is naturally vibrant and each room is decorated by a local artist. We all love a tune in the shower but if it’s a love so deep it needs equipment, ask for the Karaoke-themed bedroom complete with in-shower microphone and get your Beyoncé on.

Check out: South Africa’s black population is embracing opportunities that were unimaginable in the past including breaking into South Africa’s prized wine industry and developing a growing niche. The Stellekaya Winery (Bosmans Crossing, Stellenbosch +27 (0)21 883 3873 ) is presided over by Zulu Ntsiki Biyela whose passion for spreading her love for the grape is as infectious as her million dollar smile and enthusiasm for the wine she promotes.

Experience: Do you have a bucket list that includes brushes with death and the Jaws theme song as your soundtrack? Well, Cape Town is famous — and infamous — for the shark dive, putting the brave up close and personal with one of the earth’s most dangerous animals. It’s so dangerous in fact, a debate surrounding the ethics of shark diving continues to swirl because some feel that cage + diver + bait can program sharks to see humans as lunch. Still, if it’s your bag be careful, it goes without saying that safety is more important than a Facebook photo album. Alternatively visit Marine Dynamics (P.O. Box 78 Gansbaai, Western Cape, South Africa, +27(0)28 384 1005) for a whale watching tour on dry decks, without the risk of losing your life.

Bear in mind: The South African government doesn’t require citizens to report their residential addresses so many just list PO Box numbers. If you need directions, call!

People Watch and Drink: Don’t glance at the check and run from the Groot Constantia Vineyard (Constantia, 7848, South Africa +27 21 794-5128) tasting rooms. That really is the (crazy good) price for a bottle of sunshine masquerading as Pinot and with less of the French superiority complex. No Côtes du Rhône here, only the “Goats do Roam” wine company. Elsewhere, the sundeck at the 12 Apostles (The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Victoria Road, Camps Bay Tel: +27 (0) 21 437 9000) in Camps Bay makes for outstanding views across the Atlantic amongst Cape Town’s pre party crowd. The crashing Atlantic is a reminder of the awesome seafood available in the city.

Eat: The Mount Nelson (Mount Nelson Hotel, 76 Orange Street, Cape Town, Republic of South Africa, 8001 Tel: +27 21 483 1000) jazz brunch is a great introduction into the city but, like most places, requires stretchy pants to accommodate the spread that’s both the selection and your waistline. Hit Baia Restaurant (upstairs at the Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town • Tel: 021 421-0935/6/7) for the local Portuguese diaspora’s take on South African favourites and Cape Fusion food, drawing from all the influences of the city. Then decamp to Long Street where local musicians range from traditional Zulu drum performances to stripped back versions of Rihanna sung by youth groups.

image: Goin Off Safaris