Just a little further on from Cape Town’s well-known Muizenberg beach (with its ubiquitous Victorian bathing boxes) is St James. Also boasting the trademark and oft-photographed bathing boxes, St James is a picturesque village and beach, which offers beachgoers respite from the westerly wind. St James is one of Cape Town’s smaller suburbs, yet it has a rich history. Thanks to a publication put together by St James historian, Michael Walker, the history of some of the original homesteads built between Muizenberg and St James in 1883 has been recorded. From St James towards Muizenberg, a number of gracious stone houses still remain as testament to a wealthy colonial past, during which the main road was commonly known as “Millionaire’s Mile”.
During the late 19th century, homes were constructed from stone, plaster and limestone, and sported thatched roofs. Some of these homes have been handed down from generation to generation and still exist today, giving visitors a glimpse of what St James looked like in its heyday. One such structure is St James Cottage, built in 1853. According to historical accounts, the owner, Abraham Auret, hid prisoners of war in the loft during the Anglo-Boer War, and helped to stage their escape across the bay. Today St James offers the visitor a relaxing spot in which to unwind and enjoy the intimate beach and rock pools along the False Bay coastline. There’s also a safe tidal pool and a tennis court for the more energetic. This beach is ideal for families as the pool is warmer than the surrounding sea.