Naturally, seeing the cute little Boulders Beach penguins was on the top of my list of things to do in South Africa, but between volunteering at school all day and joining in on the other volunteers’ activities, I found myself penguin-less on my last day in Muizenberg. Oh, by the way, there are penguins in South Africa!
I had just gotten back from my most perfect morning in Camps Bay with Mr. TDH when it dawned on me that I was on a severe time crunch. “Take the cab, he’ll take you to Boulders Beach and back,” he instructed after negotiating a flat fee of 300 Rand ($30 USD) with the driver who had brought us back from Cape Town. Boulders Beach is the only beach where the penguins live and is about 30 minutes south of Muizenberg. You can take the train for free but I had heard it was a 45 minute walk from the station to the beach and cabs were scarce.
“You can come help with surfing when you get back,” he added, noticing the sad puppy face I must have been making at the thought of not seeing the kids before I left (and maybe also not seeing him). I ran inside to get my GBF and party boy, except party boy had been making plans of his own.
“Ok so let’s take the cab to Boulders Beach then down to the Peninsula.” He announced without asking anyone besides my cab driver. The Peninsula was supposed to be a beautiful view and the southern most tip of Africa, but it was an additional 2 hours to get there and back which I was planning to spend at the surf program with the kids and Mr. TDH for my last day. “Well, I wanted to do surf program so I’ll need to come back after Boulders.” I said. “Well you can take the train back then.” He said nonchalantly, completely disregarding the fact that the train is extremely dangerous in the evening, especially alone and if you’re a small girl.
I ran to go tell Mr. TDH about the ignorant idea, and considered skipping my penguins altogether. He was not happy about party boy’s train suggestion so came up with a solution. Since he had been there for three weeks he was close with some of the volunteers, and asked one of the guys from the UK if he would go with us so I wouldn’t have to ride home alone. My hero.
The cab driver was great, most of them are and are more than willing to give you any information about the area. If you get a good one, make sure to get their phone number because they’ll come and get you any time you call (the volunteer houses have cab numbers posted in them too).
The drive along the coastline was beautiful and we got to drive through smaller towns on the way like Kalk Bay where we went for karaoke the Wednesday before. When we finally got to Boulders Beach we paid the entrance fee (it’s about 55 Rand, $5.50 USD, so bring cash) and started walking along the wooden boardwalk to the beach.
The little penguins were everywhere! In the bushes along the boardwalk, waddling up and over the dunes, and cuddling in the circular man-made nests that were throughout the park. There was a crowd of people at the very end so we squeezed through to see the picture perfect little beach that was dotted with the adorable little penguins! They would waddle towards the boardwalk and look at us inquisitively, then waddle away to go join the rest of the penguins who were stand-up tanning in the warm sunlight. No big deal.
The penguins get their own private beach
After watching them for a while and taking our penguin GoPro selfies, we headed back on the boardwalk, stopping whenever we would see a few of them running around in the bushes. I wanted to get a closeup so decided it would be a good idea to lower my iPhone down to penguin eye-level, but the curious little guy examined it for a few seconds then pecked at it so hard that I almost dropped it!
Penguin tried to eat my iPhone
When I caught up with everyone else, party boy was already in the cab ready to go. “He said the train station isn’t that far, only like 10 minutes, you could walk there,” he said, opposing my earlier idea to have the cab driver bring us to the station before they went down to the Peninsula. I looked at the driver who seemed to agree so turned to the UK guy for his opinion. “That’s fine I guess,” he shrugged.
Penguin Selfie with my GBF
It was not a ten minute walk. It was a 45 minute walk just like I had thought. There were no cabs to hail, and neither of our phones worked to try and call one. I was beyond irritated that party boy and the driver both knew the station was far, but let us walk anyway for the sake of not back tracking. Not to mention it was more time that I wouldn’t have with the kids in the surf program. It was starting to get dark, which was not a good sign at all. Not only is it dangerous to be out at night, but the trains stop running around 6pm.
Of course when we finally got to the station, a train had just pulled away, and the next one was going to be another 25 minutes. I felt really bad that the UK guy had to come babysit me but was extremely grateful to not be alone. When the train finally came we boarded, choosing a seat at the very front of the graffiti covered car. Despite the sketchy company and condition of the train, it was actually quite beautiful to watch the sun setting as we rumbled back along the coast.
It took almost 2 hours total to get back to Muizenberg, all because party boy had to change the plans, so by the time I got to the Dreams to Reality surf shop, I only had time to help with feeding the kids before they headed home.
Mr. TDH and I walked back to the Albertyn House together after saying goodbye to all of the kids (talk about a heartwrencher) to get ready for the Friday Market. I had been waiting for it all week and had watched out my bedroom window as they started setting up for it mid-week in the empty single-story building that took up the entire street corner next door to our house.
All of the volunteers from every house went there every Friday, like how they all went to Brass Belt in Kalk Bay for karaoke on Wednesdays. Food booths lined the walls of the large, festive area, serving everything from sushi to crepes to some famed meatball sub that this vegetarian had 0 interest in. We ate and drank and ate some more until we couldn’t fit anything else in our stomachs.
So what do you do after 10pm on a Friday when you’re staying in Muizenberg? Head to the only sketchy hole in the wall bar that’s still open. But the less than aesthetic ambiance was never an issue since we went there to hang out and drink cheap drinks anyway. Especially that last Friday night. Instead of playing pool, chit-chatting, and flirting, we were engulfing each other in goodbye hugs and trying to hold back tears from the pleas to stay longer.
But there was one person who wasn’t hug-attacking everyone and who was extremely quiet. Someone who had accidentally fallen in love with a Cali girl who he lives thousands and thousands of miles away from. Someone who wanted nothing more than to not have to say goodbye…Mr. TDH.
Alyssa is a full time solo adventure traveler who turned her love for traveling and writing into a self-made career as a travel blogger and social media influencer. She's been to 70 countries and 6 continents so far, as well as all 7 New World Wonders, and 7 Wonders of Nature. Alyssa believes she has mastered the art of chasing waterfalls, traveling solo, packing light, wine drinking, and making budget-traveling look good. Curious to know how she started this career? Check out the About section above!