In the glittery world of commercial tourism, St James is a closely guarded secret, a unique 200 metre strip of land between Kalk Bay (recently voted one of the trendiest seaside villages in the world) and the wider shores of Muizenberg.
It lies within an amphitheater of sea and mountain and it is not by mistake that many old Cape families chose it as a place to live, encouraged by its lack of wind. St James is a class act combining colonial houses designed by Sir Herbert Baker and brightly coloured Victorian bathing boxes, with one of the oldest working fishing harbours. Although it started off as a surfing destination it is now known for the natural rock pools, lit with anemones and marine life that give the place a trademark quality in an environmentally endangered world.
The great thing about St James is, that unlike many seaside retreats, it is really part of greater Cape Town and within easy reach of Constantia and even Stellenbosch vineyards. Its restaurants, ranging from the famously affordable Kalky’s with fried fish straight from the sea, to fine dining Harbour House are world class. However, it also provides for a tranquil aloofness from the hoi polloi. A friend who lives on Jacob’s Ladder says, “I can just dip into any activity I want. There are great art galleries in Kalk Bay, lots of antique shops to browse in and unique rock pools. But the best is, I can then retire to peace and reclusion at home.”
Whale Bay lies at the top of the stairway which, with its biblical name of Jacob’s Ladder, really are steps from earth to heaven. The house with its 360 degree view over False Bay, lies above terraced gardens and on any afternoon you might see the stirrings of Southern Right Whales breaching and lob tailing.
The architecture is super styled for aesthetics and comfort, lofty and perfectly appointed, with a lot of scope for individual taste. It provides a cool contemporary haven with a lush repository of comfortable beds and sofas, and is illuminated with some stirring pieces of art (the owner is an artist). Even in the middle of the season on a starlit night with only the trademark croak of the Western Leopard Toad and the soft-breeze rustle of leaves, you might be in the middle of nowhere.
What we love!
- Fresh bread and pastries from Olympia Cafe
- Fish at the fish market, cleaned in front of you
- Walking the mountain trail to the Boomslang cave
- Quagga rare books and art, where you can also find ancient curiosities like the tongue of a mammoth
- Cape Point with two beautiful rock pools is an easy drive away
- All the rock pools, Dalebrook, Wooleys, St.James, the Brass Bell pools now open to the public, Miller’s Point
- The walk to Fish Hoek to visit one of the last remaining department stores, AP Jones
- Visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach
- Sunday night jazz at the Olympia café
What you need to know…
- If you walk down to the beach there are 120 steps on the way back!
- There is a bedroom on the top level which has access to a guest loo only
- The house is on three levels with quite open stairs that may not be suitable for very little kids
- The rim flow pool is not fenced and has a steep drop on the sea view side
- The house comes with a double garage leading directly into the house – a rare thing in this part of the world!