"She drove her cabriolet down the road to Camps Bay ..." (Sugardrive, South African band, late 1990's)  

Lines that pretty much capture the Camps Bay gist: a relaxed and visually marvellous strip of photogenic real estate sandwiched between the gently curving, palm edged bay and the back end of Table Mountain . Oh yes, and lots of cabriolets. And to balance out the fine looks and good location Camps Bay has a bit of schizophrenia. Street society and serene city suburb, rough rocks and smooth beach, Camps Bay is reassuringly two-faced.  

       

Sitting on the Atlantic coastline about 6km from Cape Town central and 30km from Cape Town International Airport there are two roads leading to Camps Bay, the high road or the low road.Both routes take about the same time to get you there and it is as much a matter of mood and preference as starting point as to which one you choose. Victoria Road is the low road continuing from the main road out of Cape Town , through Greenpoint and Seapoint and starting in Bantry Bay . Victoria Road bends its way along the base of the mountain rock that drops steeply into the sea. Look up the   slopes to see the high priced   glass and concrete   superhomes in the blocky and angular modern style that seems to have flourished on these rocky gradients. Drop round a steady bend and there's Camps Bay : half a mile of beachfront where the competition and collaboration of   nature and human has resulted in a lazy oppulence that will switch your inner tempo from presto to largo.  

 

Come in via Camps Bay Drive which goes from Kloof Nek, the pass that curls up from the west part of the city between Lions Head and Table Mountain , and the shyer, domesticated Camps Bay is revealed. Hibiscus and pelargonium lined avenues lead off on either side to large well cared for properties. If you are the one driving then keep your eyes on the snaking road and try not to stare at the contrast of the boulders and fynbos vegetation of the Table Mountain range and the infinite Atlantic spilling out below. Don't miss the two recently refurbished 12 pounder cannons (hauled out of the Glen, a forested valley below, in 1998) on your right as you pass over Kloof Nek to Camps Bay Drive . These were used by the French and Dutch forces to deter naughty English soldiers from attempted invasions.  

Named after von Kamptz who was either 1) a sailor for the Dutch East India Company, 2) a German-born entrepreneur with friends in high places who went to India and made then lost his fortune there. He ended up in the Cape and   acquired the estate, Ravensteyn, by marrying its owner Anna Wernich in 1778. Ravensteyn was a prosperous vegetable and dairy cattle farm comprising of land over the Kloof Nek pass. Disputes in land ownership and compensation payable between von Kamptz and the Dutch government as a result of a war of the Dutch and French with the British ensued. Von Kamptz relocated to Holland with his family and was eventually paid out for Ravensteyn by the Dutch.  

Publicity and acrimony between this feisty landowner and the bureaucrats of the day (who referred to him as "troublesome and annoying") were enough to solidify the name "de Baai van von Kamptz", into the collective consciousness and mapbooks of the region.  

Eating, Drinking and Shopping in Camps Bay 

 These essential pastimes will all be carried out on the landward side of Victoria Road.Non-stop, it would take an average human 10 minutes to walk this whimsical commercial drag. But then that average human would be missing the point: there are many reasons to stop along this little route.  

Shopfront and pavement with the two lanes of tarmac dividing these from the palm tree lined beach ( planted in the early 1900 ’ s to make it look like Brighton ) create both a stage and vantage point for the easy going crowd. The full cinemascope experience: sea, sand, palms, rocks and people can be had from virtually every seat and table in any of the establishments. And nestled against the kerbs are the higher than usual concentrations of open topped sports cars, Hummers with cryptic personalised number plates (Mervyn02 ?) and camp clusters of Harley Davidsons: yes that is one of the riders at the juice counter drinking a dairy free pomegranate smoothie with a wheatgrass shot on the side.    

The restaurants of Camps Bay  

The restaurants, sidewalk cafes and cocktail bars along Victoria Road present a dense array of choice. Sea views are standard and most establishments sprawl themselves out onto the pavements but have indoor seating should shade or shelter be needed.  

So what ’ s on the menu? To try and cram the imaginative diversity of   well crafted Camps Bay menus into a nutshell is very difficult and a bit of a sin but here goes anyway …  

Strong inclinations to the Mediterranean with Portuguese and Spanish influences very much in place. Naturally sea food is well represented in the confident Cape style and by the prolific presence of sushi counters in many of the restaurants. Africa has its say with imaginative yet accessible dishes of springbok or ostrich. There ’ s some far Eastern stuff. If pizza and pasta is your bag then you won ’ t find better Italian restaurants in Cape Town . Prices range from decent middle-of-the-road to expensive without being fear-inducing.  

Sandbar- popular, fresh and outdoor, good for lunch, sunset drinks and easy evening eating.   tel +27 (0) 214388336 email hello@sandbar.co.za  

Caprice- trendy sunken lounge and laptop crowd by day. No laptop needed at night.   tel +27 (0) 214288315

 Paranga- High end and casual dinner and drinks with dramatic d é cor.   tel +27 (0) 214380404 email info@paranga.co.za  

 Col ’ Cacchio- Huge array of fine and imaginative gourmet pizza, decent pasta.   tel +27 (0) 214382171 email campsbay@colcacchio.co.za  

Primi Piatti- Slick chain of Italian restaurants that serve consistently high quality dishes that come out promptly. Fresh ingredients, slightly out of main clutch of restaurants.   tel +27 (0) 214382923 email campsbay@primi-piatti.com  

Cape Town Fish Market (CTFM)- Upmarket family fish and sushi shop: part of a chain.   tel +27 (0) 214381866 email campsbay@ctfm.co.za  

Kauai Health Food and Juice Co- Carrot juice, wheatgrass shots, smoothies with all manner of herbal and therapeutic add-ins, healthy fast food in sandwich and wrap format.   tel +27 (0) 214384607  

Nandos- Ordinarily wouldn’t deserve a mention. Massive chicken franchise whose advertising campaigns are way more appealing than their food.   tel +27 (0) 214385600 email campsbay@nandocas.com