Being a tourist in my own city Part 1: Seal Snorkeling

I was ecstatic when I heard the news that my high school best friend was coming back to Cape Town for a holiday. She had immigrated to England in 10th grade, and we hadn’t seen each other in 9 years. Facebook helps with the distance, but nothing quite beats having the person, in the flesh, on a fun filled holiday! She had asked me if she could share my place for the 2 weeks, and I jumped at the chance. I had one request though…a ridiculous amount of Galaxy chocolate!


Fully geared up.

I spent time planning an itinerary, and managed to wrangle some leave from work. There is something magical about being a tourist in your own city. It is refreshing – like seeing the place for the first time through someone else’s eyes. Since she was in high school when she left, there were so many things she could now experience for the first time. First up on the list was seal snorkeling!The price was R600 per person, which included a very thick wetsuit, gloves and all necessary gear. We decided to pay the additional R150 to rent a GoPro to capture the experience.

We departed Hout Bay harbor in a rubber duck boat, and headed out to Seal Island. It is not an actual island, but rather very large boulder coming out of the sea where thousands of seals spend their time. The water is overloaded with pirouetting seals. the rocks make a circular area, with a large sea gap in the center. The boat was slowly guided into this opening, and we were given the thumbs up to hop in the ridiculously cold water. Thankfully our 5mm suits, booties, gloves and hoodies were sufficient enough in keeping us alive.



Seals swimming all around us.

The moment I put my head under the water, I was in awe. I couldn’t believe I lived in Cape Town and had not tried this amazing experience before! We were lucky enough to enjoy this trip at the right time of year – Around March, when the water is full of pups. We snorkeled around the cove-style area for about an hour. The visibility wasn’t too bad, and the swell was quite high, which made for a wonderful floating feeling.


vlcsnap-2014-03-28-16h11m10s142An interesting fact we learnt was that a seal’s eyes go extremely large underwater. It gives the seals an almost cartoon-like appearance. The older seals swam around, minding their own business, but the pups were full of fun and overly inquisitive. They were doing spirals around us, and blowing bubbles in our faces. Their curiosity was very entertaining.

This was an experience of a lifetime, and I highly recommend to anybody coming to Cape Town, google this activity!


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