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Exploring the Shipwreck Trails of the Cape

Often described as “the Cape of Storms”, the waters off the shores of South Africa’s Western Cape were once notorious for wrecking ships. Today many of these ship wrecks can be explored on foot by traversing some of the Cape’s most beautiful and remote beaches. Here are three of our favourite shipwreck trails – all within easy reach of POD Boutique Hotel.

The Olifantsbos Shipwreck Trail

Probably the most photographed wreck in the Cape, the SS Thomas T. Tucker has lain marooned on a power-white beach in a remote corner of the Cape Point National Park since 1942. Built by the Americans to carry troops and weapons, the ship was wrecked on the rocks at Cape Point after sailing too close to the coastline, in an attempt to avoid detection by German U-boats.

This wreck can be explored on an easy 3km walk along the coastline in the Cape Point Nature. Reserve. To do so park at the Olifantsbos parking lot and follow the markers through the fynbos, across the rock pools and down to the beach. From here you will follow the coastline, walking across pristine and isolated beaches towards the SS Thomas T. Tucker wreck.

The Wreck of the Kakapo

The 7km Long Beach that stretches from Chapman’s Peak all the way to Kommetjie is one of Cape Town’s most pristine beaches and a popular stretch of coastline to cross by foot or on horseback. It also offers the highlight of a shipwreck sighting in a remote area of the beach.

Start the trail at the Noordhoek beach parking lot and follow the coastline in the direction of Kommetjie passing the inland lagoon. The wreck can be found about 5km along the beach, where it has been marooned close to the sand dunes since 1900. The Kakapo was a British steamer that was wrecked in a gale on her maiden voyage from Swansea in Wales to Sydney in Australia. Today all that is left of the ship are its boilers and the remains of her hull poking up through the sand. The wreck can also be seen in the distance from Chapman’s Peak drive as one rounds the corner that overlooks Long Beach.

The Bos 400 Shipwreck near Sandy Bay

The Boss 400 was a French crane barge that ran aground during a storm in 1994. It was wrecked after the rope that was towing it broke loose, sending it onto the rocks off the cliffs near Hout Bay where it was abandoned, due to its inaccessible location. The trail to the wreck is not well sign posted and involves some scrambling and moderate-level hiking. We’d recommend downloading the map from the Alltrails.com app to ensure that one does not get lost. Stop in for a swim at Sandy Bay enroute if you dare – this is a famous Cape Town nudist beach.