1. Two Oceans Aquarium
Visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, especially on a rainy day when you can’t be outdoors, will keep your children busy for 2 – 3 hours. It will help your children to be in touch with nature, appreciative of life under the sea and be in awe of the interesting creatures in our 2 oceans.
The Two Oceans Aquarium opened in 1995 and is made up of exhibition galleries with large viewing windows showing the plants and animals found in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans of South Africa. The aquarium is located at the V&A Waterfront near the One and Only Hotel.
Things to do:
Visit the Touch Pool for a hands-on opportunity to feel anemones, star fish, kelp and moreGo to Zoom In at the microscopes to be introduced to what the eye can’t see such as delicate tentacles, tubular feet of star fish and octopus suckers.
Have a cup of coffee at Shoreline Cafe while your children play in the play centre. One can also have personal encounters with the penguins and dive with the sharks at an extra cost.
During the school holidays there are ‘Behind the scenes tours’ – learn what takes place at the aquarium every day.
Penguins 11:30, Rockhoppers 11:45 and 14:30 African penguin., Predators tanks 15:00
Ticket office prices:
R185 / adult
R140 / child 14 – 17 years
R90 / child 4 – 13 years
Free / child under 4 years
R140 / pensioner and SA student
Opening hours: 09:30 – 18:00
2. Scratch Patch – Mineral World
This is another must for rainy days and keeping children occupied whilst enjoying the treasures of nature.
Southern Africa is often considered the “gemstone capital of the world” as almost half of the world’s gemstones are found in this part of the world. For this reason, experiencing the amazing beauty and variety of gemstones is an absolute “must” for all.
Visit The Scratch Patch and Mineral World outlets at Simon’s Town(on the right just before the station) and the V&A Waterfront (opposite the aquarium).
The Scratch Patch was originally started in Simon’s Town in 1970 were you could have fun ‘scratching around’ for your favourite gemstones.
The gift shop offers an amazing variety of jewellery, gemstone carvings, gem trees, gem gifts and souvenirs and rough natural looking stones to polished gems.
Cost: from R25 for a small plastic bag to R130 for a large container
Opening times: 09:00 – 17:30 daily
3. Rondevlei Bird Sanctuary
Introduce your children to birding at a place where you are guaranteed to see birds. Purchase a simple booklet showing the birds found there and the treasure hunt is on to see who can spot the most birds. It’ll keep your children busy for hours. Afterwards there is a secluded picnic area to enjoy a packed picnic and some family time.
Rondevlei was established in 1952. It is surrounded by coastal dunes and a large vlei which is an important wetland for birds and a few hippos. There are 6 bird hides and 2 look-out towers. From large pelicans, herons, egrets, spoonbills to ducks, geese, coots and moorhens to kingfishers, prinias, sunbirds and so much more.
The Leonard Gill Museum offers a huge selection of stuffed birds to examine in case there is a species you haven’t seen that day. There is also cages with snakes and an aquarium showing the indigenous fish found in the vlei.
What to bring:
A warm top/windproof jacket as the wind off the water can be cold, beanie and scarf, walking shoes, field guide bird book (optional), binoculars, packed picnic, pencils to mark off birds seen
Rondevlei is in Zeekoeivlei. Head south along the M5, turn left at the Zeekoeivlei traffic lights and just before
entering Zeekoeivlei turn right into Fisherman’s Walk. There are signs along the way.
R30 / adult and R15 / child
R10 for an educational bird booklet.
Opening hours: 07:30 – 17:00 during the week and to 19:00 weekends (Dec – Feb)
4. Boulders Beach
Boulders is ideal for children as immense granite boulders shelter it from wind, waves and strong currents. It is also home to the endangered African penguin. This colony is one of only 2 land-based colonies in South Africa and unique as it is the only place in the world where people and penguins swim alongside each other.
The Boulders section of Table Mountain National Park consists of 3 pristine beaches, 1 penguin viewing area and 3 boardwalks.The boardwalks were built as a measure to allow for viewing of these fascinating birds, whilst keeping them , safe from poking fingers.Please warn your children not to touch or feed the penguins – they may look cute and cuddly but their beaks are as sharp as razors and if they feel threatened they have no qualms about nipping the odd finger or nose.
The Boulders Penguin Colony was established in 1983 and their numbers increased to 3 900 birds in 2005. Since then there has been a decrease as a result of their habitat been destroyed, oil spills and other water pollution and global warming affecting the amount of fish in False Bay. The 2011 figures sit at around 2 100 birds at Boulders Penguin Colony.
3 beaches, penguin viewing area and boardwalks, 2 sets of ablutions, souvenir shop, parking
Free if you have a Wild Card
Adults R40 Conservation Fee
Children R20 Conservation fee
Head south along the Main Road to Simon’s Town. Go through Simon’s Town and look out for the brown information signs on the left.
Winter : 08:00 – 17:00
Summer: 07:00 – 19:30
5. Cape Town City Sightseeing Bus
Get to know your city, the history, important buildings, landmarks and tourist destinations whilst travelling on a bright red topless double-decker bus. Each person is given a set of earphones so that you can listen to a commentary about the places you see as well as the history and the music of the different cultures that make up Cape Town.
This activity is suitable for foul and pleasant weather. There are 18 bus stops around the city in a circular route including Table Mountain. A non-stop tour takes about 2 hours, but if you hop off at some scenic sights, the tour can last the whole day. You can hop off and hop on as many times as you want in the day. There are buses at each stop every 20 minutes. There are specials during school holidays and public holidays so that the whole family can afford the experience. At the moment for every 1 paying adult on the Red Tour, 2 children under 18 are free. Tickets can be bought online, or at the Two Oceans Aquarium or when you hop on the bus.
Tickets: Online / Offline
R245 / adult
R130 / child
Under 5 are free
3 for the price of 1 : for every 1 paying adult you get 2 children under 18 tickets free
Outside Two Oceans Aquarium, Dock Road, Cape Town
09:00 – 18:30
6. Company Gardens
The Company Gardens at the top of Adderley Street in Cape Town offers a few hours of peace and tranquillity for the whole family. From having a picnic on the lawns, to feeding the squirrels and pigeons, to strolling along the numerous paved walkways, learning to tell the time with the sundial, having an ice cream or tea and scones at the Garden Tea Room to looking at the birds in the aviaries.
The Company Gardens was started by Jan van Riebeeck and his gardener, Hendrick Boom, in 1652. The original garden was much bigger than the present garden. Here grew mainly fruit and vegetables using channelled water from streams off Table Mountain. The work in the gardens was done by the slaves at the Cape. The exotic trees were added gradually when they were sent as gifts from all over the trade routes. The saffron pear tree in the garden today is probably the oldest cultivated tree in South Africa dating back to the days of Jan van Riebeeck.
Besides spending time with your children in the garden, visit some of the other buildings attached to the garden. There is the Iziko Museum with great displays of the indigenous people who lived at the Cape, and their rock art. Also visit the Whale Well, Fossils for Africa and Shark World. Attached to this museum is a Planetarium with a domed auditorium giving shows that display the night sky and the wonders of the solar system. The National Art Gallery near the Iziko Museum is also fascinating and the Slave Lodgeat the bottom of the garden off Adderley Street, has a wonderful collection of old toys from the early days at the Cape.All in all the Company Garden and surrounds offers a host of activities to keep your children busy whilst learning and having fun.
Free entrance to the Company Gardens
Museums : R30 / adults and R15 child
Planetarium: R60 / adult and R30 / child
Free entrance to the gardens during the day
Museums daily from 10:00 – 17:00
Planetarium 10:00 – 17:00 but closed on Mondays