Top 10 Family-Friendly Activities in Cape Town, South Africa

May 22, 2024

Nestled between the majestic Table Mountain and the azure waters of the Atlantic, Cape Town beckons with its diverse culture  and breath-taking landscapes. Explore the heart of South Africa, where every moment is an adventure. Cape Town is a treasure for active families of all ages who are looking for adventure, education, and comfortable accommodations all with sustainable travel practices in mind.

1. Exploring Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens 

Right at the foot of Table Mountain is the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens captivating visitors for it’s 528 hectares of indigenous flora. The views up of the eastern side of Table Mountain are breathtaking from the gardens, a unique vantage point loved by many.

Thirty-six hectares of the garden is a cultivated area, while the remaining is a protected area that supports natural and indigenous forest and fynbos. It is also home to many birds, reptiles and invertebrates. Keep your eyes peeled for butterflies, frogs, the Cape Porcupine, and Angulate Tortoises! 

Families with children of all ages can sign up for guided tours during the week. These tours are an educational and immersive way to explore the gardens. Guides offer many different tours through trails that range from young children and easy pace, to more difficult trails for adventurous families. 

The Tree Canopy Walk was inspired by the skeleton of a snake, which winds above the trees of the Arboretum. This steel and timber bridge is 130 meters long and is 12 meters high. Enjoy views of the gardens, Table Mountain, and Cape Flats from the canopy. 

2. Snorkeling with Seals

For families with teenagers who want a great adventure, we suggest snorkeling with the seals! Seals have a reputation for being the happiest creatures in the ocean. They’re playful, they love sharing the ocean with snorkelers, and they’re always entertaining. 

Embark on an exhilarating day trip filled with excitement, wonder, and marine discovery. After you get fitted with your gear (including your wetsuit, as the water can be chilly!) you’ll head out by boat to Duiker Island in the scenic Hout Bay. On the ride, delight in breathtaking views of rugged mountain cliffs and explore a kelp forest. Your boat will dock, and your guides will assist you in the water on your snorkeling adventure! Enjoy watching the seals play in the water. Bring your GoPro or underwater camera as this is footage you’ll want to share with others. 

The best time to snorkel with the seals is in the warmer summer months when the water is calmer - September to May. Seal pups are seen with their months from April - May. The snorkeling site is about 5 meters deep and the water visibility can be 2 to 15 meters on a calm day. Minimum age is 13 years old for this activity, and seasoned swimmers are best. On your adventure you might also see Duskey, Heaviside, and Common dolphins, Humpback and Southern Right whales, African Penguins, and Sunfish! 

3. Foraging Experiences

An excellent way to learn more about sustainable lifestyle practices, especially cooking practices, is to learn more about wild foraging! Cape Point is a promontory on the southeast corner of Cape Peninsula, a mountain landform that runs north to south on the southwestern tip of South Africa. There are ruggest rocks, sheer cliffs towering 200 meters above the ocean. This unique landscape is rich in biodiversity and a perfect place to spend the day learning about foraging in the wild. 

Founder of Veld and Sea, Roushanna Gray is a wild food artist, foodie and avid forager. She shares her passion about the edible land- scape edible through immersive educational experiences, connection and creativity. Inspired by the natural world around her, she has been work- ing with the exciting and diverse wild flavors found in the mountains, veld, and gardens for the last 15 years. The wide range of delicious and nutritious culinary offerings from the beautiful intertidal rock pools along the South African coastline also play a major role in her cooking and teaching.

Join Roushanna on a seasonal inspired, food-art experience in her Veld and Sea work space at Cape Point. The rustic wooden Kitchen Cabin and Glasshouse is located at an indigenous plant nursery in the South Peninsula opposite the Nature Reserve, deliciously situated in between the fynbos mountainside and the Atlantic Ocean.

4. Surfing Lessons at Muizenberg Beach 

Does your family love to spend time on the beach, swim, and maybe even surf? Surfing at Muizenberg Beach is great for beginners and casual surfers. With smaller, forgiving waves, surfing lessons for the whole family is a perfect way to spend a day - or a few - while in Cape Town. 

Not only is this seaside village beautiful, well maintained, and lined with the famous colorful beach huts, it’s a perfect place for first timers to learn how to surf, or for casual surfers to enjoy a nice day and get reacquainted with the sport. A surfing lesson can be a half day, allowing you to also spend the rest of the day enjoying the beach with the whole family. Surf instructors provide surf boards and wetsuits, so all you have to do is show up! Lessons include one on one coaching on the basics, helping surfers be comfortable in the water and on the board, and teaching you how to catch the best wave!  

Surfing is a great sport and hobby for those who want to keep their carbon footprint low and protect our precious oceans. Surfing is a sport with an incredibly low carbon footprint, enjoying the beach and surfing on the waves does not interrupt the ocean's ecosystems and is a way to enjoy the ocean and leave no trace. The best waves to surf are created by the sand bars and reefs under the water, so protecting these are key to keep surfing a sport for future generations.

Hobbies like surfing are great to teach younger kids - finding a hobby that you can enjoy, gets you outside, and doesn’t interfere with the earth. 

5. Sea Kayaking Adventures 

Like surfing lessons, families who love to be active and be on the water should definitely head out for a sea kayaking adventure while in Cape Town! This is not only just a fun way to explore, it’s also one of the best ways to spot dolphins, penguins, seals, and sunfish up close. During the winter, some kayakers even spot whales! Another allure is seeing the stunning Cape Town coastline from the water - a whole new vantage point. 

The most popular areas to kayak are Hout Bay, and the VA Waterfront Canal. Hout Bay is home to thousands of seals living on Duiker Island and many dolphins are spotted here. The water in the bay tends to be calmer, which can make for an easier kayak trip, especially for younger kids or more novice kayakers. A kayak trip around Hout Bay, with a guide, takes about two hours. This tour is available all year long, though some times are better than others. The water is calmer from September to May. Seal pups are seen with their months from April - May.

Kayaking is another thoughtful activity with a low carbon footprint. Since kayaks are man powered, have no motor or need no fuel, they have an incredibly low carbon footprint to use. They’re also great exercise! Kayaks don’t leave any oil or fumes behind so they are kind to our oceans. 

6. Hiking Table Mountain 

Table Mountain is often on the top of travelers lists when visiting Cape Town. Table Mountain overlooks Cape Town, and it’s an iconic landmark with a flat-top peak. The views from the top are panoramic of the entire city and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a UNESCO world heritage site full of unique and diverse flora and fauna. 

The mountain is full of wonderful hiking trails, perfect for hikers of every level and all ages. Hiking up Table Mountain is a unique way to experience this famous landmark, and keep your carbon footprint low. This is an enriching outdoor experience; take your time and stop along the way to marvel at all the beautiful, and unique, plants and flowers. 

The peak is 11,111 feet, the trails offer 650 - 4,000 feet in elevation gain. The Platteklip Gorge trail is one of the more famous routes that takes you right to the top! This is also known as one of the faster routes, though it is not the easiest. Most all the trails are for families with children old enough to hike 1.5 - 2 miles for about two hours. Along the way you’ll enjoy the gorgeous nature, and as you climb higher and higher you’ll be treated to great views of the city and the ocean. Hiking is a great way to teach children how to see and be in nature while respecting it and maintaining its natural beauty. 

For families who don’t want to hike to the top, the cable car is a great option! This aerial cableway is a five minute ride to the top of the mountain and it is wheelchair accessible.

7. Penguins at Boulders Beach 

Another famous activity in Cape Town is experiencing the fun African Penguins at Boulder Beach! Boulder Beach is located near Simon’s Town on the western side of False Bay. The ancient granite boulder cliffs protect this area from wind and large waves, which makes this a great place to swim, especially for younger kids, and play in the soft white sand. 

The African Penguins bring thousands of visitors every year, they are the only penguins found on the entire African continent. Their colonies can be found from southern Namibia all the way to the South African coast, but Boulder Beach is a specifically remarkable viewing point. 

In 1983, the penguins made their first appearance in False Bay after migrating from Dyer Island near Gansbaai. Initially, there was abundant food sources that fueled rapid colony expansion. However, the detrimental impacts of commercial fishing, and marine pollution gradually decimated the colony. It is estimated that one-and-a-half million African Penguins were there in 1910, the species faced endangerment a century later. By 1982, only two breeding pairs remained. Remarkable conservation endeavors have since bolstered the Boulders colony, witnessing a resurgence to over 3,000 birds in recent years.

Summer is the best time to visit Boulders and you’ll see the most penguins when they are most active, though you can see them year round. Between September and October they spend most of their time out at sea feeding, so there are less on the beach. In January, the baby birds are molting. Molting is when penguins replace worn feathers with new ones and without these feathers they are not waterproof and stay on shore. This is a great time for viewing.

While seeing these adorable and fun animals is enticing, it’s also important to be thoughtful on how you visit them. Do not get too close to these animals, and do not attempt to touch of feed them. Be careful on the beach around the rocks and plants, this is their home! 

Seeing cute and fun wildlife up close is always fun and exciting for children, and is a great opportunity to teach them how to protect and care for animals and how to view them responsibly. 

8. Cycling Tours around the City 

One of the best ways to see a new city is by bike! Cape Town specifically is a cyclists paradise. The city has prioritized bike lanes throughout the main roads, the mountain biking trails are also maintained and a-plenty. Cape Town has created wonderful cycling paths and trails to make visiting the sights easy, and safe, by bike. 

The city is full of fantastic bike rental centers for road bikes, cruisers, e-bikes and mountain bikes. You can opt for a guided cycling tour or perhaps you like to explore yourself. For those who want a guided tour, there are many routes and options for families with kids of all ages. You can ride through the VA waterfront and explore the city shoreline or perhaps bike through Camps Bay beach and the Atlantic seaboard and head down to the False Bay coastline towards Boulder’s Beach to see the African Penguins. 

9. Relax & Play at Camps Bay Beach 

Camps Bay Beach is a major attraction located on the west coast of the Cape Peninsula. The golden sand beach is wide and lined with lush palm trees. This beach offers views of stunning sunsets and is lined with great shops, hotels, and restaurants. This is one of the most accessible beaches close to the city center, which makes for the perfect place to hang out during the day, or grab dinner at night and enjoy a sunset. 

While this beach is beautiful and a great place to picnic and lounge, the cold water doesn’t make it a perfect swimming beach. Consider an afternoon picnic, a long walk down the shoreline, or perhaps an afternoon to grab lunch and an ice cream cone! 

10. Take a Whale Watching Trip to Hermanus 

Whales are one of the most mysterious, beautiful, and interesting creatures in the ocean. Many people spend their lives traveling hundreds of miles to spot these gentle creatures. 

Hermanus is a seaside town on the Western Cape known for its great whale watching. Hermanus is often considered the official home of the Southern Right Whale, in fact they host the Whale Festival every year in September, which brings over 150,000 people. The Southern Right Whales arrive in large groups to breed, birth, and play in the sea. 

A boat trip is the best way to visit and view these animals up close and a perfect half-day trip for families with children of all ages. Other species of whales you will see are Humpbacks and Brydes. You’ll also see many birds and hopefully dolphins! The best time to go whale watching is June through November, as they are usually closest to the coastline. 


Cape Town is a vibrant city full of active, outdoor activities for families of all sizes and kids of all ages. Many activities allow families to see wildlife, be in nature, and learn about this city’s unique ecosystem. Explore the heart of South Africa, where every moment is an adventure. Cape Town is a treasure for active families of all ages who are looking for adventure, education, and comfortable accommodations all with sustainable travel practices in mind.