Surf’s up in Kommetjie. Discovering a hidden seaside escape


Downtime is a luxury for Shelly Castle. Between the demands of running a restaurant and motherhood, she has her hands full. But she finds respite in packing her surfboard in the car and heading to the coast. Castle was delighted when her son started mirroring her love of the sea at the age of two. “The day he said to me, ‘Mom, I want to be a surfer’, I knew just the place to take him,” Castle says. Their destination? Kommetjie.

Named after the Afrikaans word for ‘small bowl’, the village is just under an hour from central Cape Town, but it feels like a world away. The drive along Chapman’s Peak features views that leave Castle in awe – she never tires of seeing the sun rising on the horizon beyond the Kommetjie lighthouse. “The destination is one thing but the journey is something else,” she says. Just the sight of the ocean is enough to draw her in. Born in the Free State, Castle grew up longing for the end of the school term when her family would pack up and drive across the country to reach the coast.  “The absolute highlight was spotting that first strip of blue ocean,” she says. “It was magic.”

Castle has had a lifelong love-affair with the sea, but this particular spot holds a special place in her heart. “Kommetjie is the kind of place I’d like to live in, but reality is not like that,” she says. “Life is busy.” It hasn’t stopped her and the boys from jumping in the car on Saturday mornings and heading to their location. Castle remembers her first encounter with the Western Cape village. “It was the beginning of something I know we will do until the day I die,” she says. “It’s why I keep coming back.”  Kommetjie is one of a myriad places in South Africa waiting to be explored.