The last village on the edge of the world
Each year thousands of tourists pass through this tiny village as they flock to Cape Point along the Atlantic Ocean; little do they know that beyond the main road lies one of the most beautiful beaches of the Cape Peninsula.
This charming sea-side village lends its name from the small English fishing port, North of Yorkshire. I once read that the word ‘Scarborough’ means ‘the last village on the edge of the world’. Searching for the reference for this article I was unable to verify this, but true or not true – it’s a wonderful, poetic way to describe this idyllic village. Scarborough is the last village on the tip of the South Peninsula, just before Cape Point, bordering the Cape of Good Hope Nature reserve. It also happens to be the most south-western village of the entire African Continent.
Metaphorically speaking, Scarborough is the last remaining remote, civilized village in the western developed world; a place where residents are in tune with nature and live a healthy, spiritual, community-based lifestyle in a dreamy setting. Here, the weather and the waves dictate the day and the sense of time is simply lost.
Sure, there are many villages in South Africa of similar nature. However, it’s the inspiring people in the village, their stories and philosophies on life, which makes this quaint village truly unique. The close proximity to Cape Town (a mere 50 minute drive) and all the essential amenities at hand in the equally enchanting neighbouring villages makes it more feasible for locals to sustain the easy-going lifestyle the setting provokes.
Scarborough is officially a Conservation Village and one of the few places left in the Cape where nature is consciously preserved by its residents, who care so much for their environment that they have successfully prevented any commercial developments. There is only one restaurant in the village – which has been there for some thirty years. The down-to-earth interior and laid back vibe makes one feel that it is unchanged since then. Otherwise there is one tiny tuck shop, called Mickey’s Mouse trap, providing essential supplies. Doris, the 82 year old shop attendant, despite her age, is still agile enough to jump over the counter to chase away baboons, which form an integral part of life in Scarborough.
Due to the small size of the village, all residents or holiday makers can easily walk to the beach from any house in the village. There are around one thousand plots in Scarborough and only half of the homes are occupied permanently. Most streets are dirt roads winding up the hill with quaint houses and rustic holiday shacks, which seem randomly scattered around and about. There are no street lights, in order to admire the starry nights to the fullest extent. The houses have astonishing views in every direction and lush green indigenous gardens, in which many locals grow their own organic produce with vegetable and herb gardens.
The azure blue ocean provides wonderful fish and crayfish, which in season, locals catch daily themselves (by boat, rod or the ‘good ole’ spear). They often share their catch of the day among neighbouring friends at a social gathering in form of a braai, under the shades of moonlight and stars. As the evening sets, one can enjoy the incredible sunsets and watch the hawks catch their prey as the moon rises above the mountain.
Scarborough offers the perfect scene for an incomparable healthy outdoor lifestyle.
Scarborough attracts young, educated, self-employed families seeking to be away from the hustle and bustle of the popular Cape coastline and the city madness. A place where their children can grow up as mother earth intended. A free-spirited life, close to nature, healthy fresh sea-air, in a peaceful and secure haven, surrounded by mountains and unspoilt beaches.
The residents each have their own intriguing life story, some still soul searching for the meaning of life whereas others have found it right there. The locals are an interesting mix – from big wave surfers, dreadlock families, artists and writers – to retired sea captains and mountaineers. One of the residents was part of the Mount Everest expedition in 1996 which turned into a disaster where eight climbers were killed by a storm. Several novels were published about this horrific incident, one of which was adapted into a TV movie.
A great example is a couple who live their ultimate dream in Scarborough: Pierre and Osnat. Pierre loves waves and can ride them all – no matter the size. He has been shaping surfboards for a living for thirty years and has built an incredible reputation in the surfer’s world, his customers respect his lifestyle and are prepared to wait for their board if the swell is good… His wife Osnat is a wonderful artist, her artwork is inspired by nature and her beautiful surroundings. What makes their story truly romantic is that she paints the most stunning art on his surfboards. What a unique way to live your life.
Left: surfboard ‘Susie’ was a commissioned wedding gift. right: Osnat and her artwork.
The most fascinating home in the area is undoubtedly the well-kitted cave above the village, where currently a gentleman resides, whom locals affectionately refer to as ‘the Scarborough sage’. The cave was previously occupied by the legendary ‘Mountain Mike’, who led an unimaginable reclusive life for years in this euphoric setting, with views to die for, over valleys and mountain tops.
Scarborough may be small, but don’t be fooled, there’s plenty to keep a visitor busy. The beach is perfectly suited for romantic sunset walks, body boarding, surfing, wind- and kite surfing and reef spots galore to throw out a fishing line.
During peak holiday times the village comes alive with visitors and locals stay home too, as they agree there is simply nowhere better to go. Filled with a wonderful energy, Scarborough is great for anybody who loves the outdoors, the beach and mountain walks. There are ample stunning picnic spots and gorgeous hikes up the mountain or in the reserve. As the village boarders a nature reserve, there are often sightings of buck, ostriches, birds and other wild life.
During whale season, the Southern Right Whale can be spotted and and occasionally dolphins too.
From the village there is a path up the mountain, a fair hike passing exquisite scenery of blooming fynbos and magical landscapes, taking you to the ‘Klein Plaas Dam’ on top of the mountain. This reservoir is a wonderland in its own right, where the white washed boulders and unusual rock formations could easily let you believe you have just landed on another planet. Or in heaven…
Either way, the same sentiment goes for the village, which is very close to our heart.
We’d like share the most profound poem with you, in memory of the famous songwriter and music publisher Hal Shaper, who owned a holiday house in Scarborough. Hal passed away at the age of 72 in 2004 and is fondly remembered by the locals.
Not only did he get the village, he also made sense of what life should be about and he knew how to express it into words… which would inspire anyone to re-think their own life.
At Scarborough they do not keep the time
By clock or watch or any measurement we know
At Scarborough they do not keep the time at all
They let it go
And there they measure out the drift of days
In moments that become the aftertaste of memories…
Of children and the sound of dogs
And tidal pools
And every year the sight of whales
And sky and wind and waves that whisper tales
Of Southern ice…and endless space
And worlds of freezing isolation.
At Scarborough they measure time
By warmth of heart, by kites and surf
And by the shells that in themselves
Could tell a million stories…
We saw an otter once… my son and I…
That pushed its whiskered face up from the sea
And stared… then went in search of crabs.
We saw a sight that you, who do not measure time
The way they do at Scarborough, may never see…
It made a memory for Jack and me.
And while the clocks and watches tick this world away
No time or tide will ever wash away that day…
At Scarborough they do not keep the time
They… let it go…
And there’s a lesson there
For all of us, who measure time by clock or watch…
Walk along the beach and search…
Search for Genies…deep asleep in bottles green
Sealed in, with markings of ten thousand years of stifled dreams
And set that Genie free
And then what wishes will you make?
For power? Or wealth? Or something more immense…?
If you have half a grain of sense
You’ll wish for sand and sea and sky
And kites and children and the sight of whales…
And laughter… and the gift of friends…
And stories of an otter’s whiskered face
That left you richer than you ever were before…
You’ll wish for someone’s hand to hold
When you are old…
And for remembrance of your walks along the shore
Where time stands… meaningless…
Where clocks and watches are… another world
And all the talk of you and me
Is overwhelmed… by sky and sea.
| HAL SHAPER
No wonder Hal was invited to write lyrics for celebrities; he tailored his work for stars such as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Barbra Streisand and also produced hits for no-one less than the Beatles. He fostered the careers of performers like the Moody Blues and David Bowie.
His first hit that made it big was ‘Softly, As I Leave You’, sung by Shirley Bassey and many performers followed to take the song up, including Atomic Kitten, recently. Many of his songs were inspired by his love for the ocean, such as Petula Clarks’ song: ‘My Friend The Sea’.
Thank you Hal, for touching our hearts with your beautiful words. The end.
Practical information of distances from Scarborough to nearby restaurants, activities and amenities:
- Long beach shopping mall (12 km)
- Kommetjie village with convenience store, post bank, deli and restaurants (8km)
- Klein Slangkop lighthouse (7km)
- Horse riding (3km)
- Cape Point (15 km)
- Cape Farm House restaurant and bar (4 km)
- Good Hope Nursery with quaint tea garden (10km)
- Cape Point Ostrich farm (15 km)
- Imhoff farm with wonderful restaurants, cheese factory, deli, chocolate shop, camel rides, snake park, touch farm and craft shops (8km)
- Noordhoek farm village with excellent restaurants, deli, shops, beauty salon and sport bar (16km) – see our beautiful Noordhoek blog.
- Cape Point Vineyards (3km but wine tasting at their vineyards in Noordhoek-16km)
- Simon’s Town harbour and penguins at boulders beach (18 km)
- Fish Hoek and Clovelly golf course (25 km)
- Kalk Bay Fishermen village (30km)
- The Scratch Patch gemstone factory (10km)
- Diving, sailing, sand boarding, kayaking, surfing lessons and an more extreme sports such as abseiling, sky diving, kite boarding – all is possible in close vicinity – contact us
- A selection of our recommended Self-catering Accommodation options in Scarborough, contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org :
Seagull Cottage: 3 bedrooms. Sleeps upto 9. Great family holiday house with plunge pool and beautiful sea views with incredible sunsets. Just a short stroll to the beach! Rate indication: R1800 – R3500 per night for the villa.
Scarborough Beach House: Modern, spacious and light. This lovely self-catering beach house is just a few minutes walk to the beach, with a lovely private garden and solar-heated pool. The beach house offers sea and mountain views, 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, sleeps 6. Rate indication: R2000 – R2500 per night for the villa.
Scarborough Beach Road Villa: Luxury villa in Scarborough Beach Road, this villa has it all…sparkling pool (with child safety net), excellent beach front location, a large deck with beautiful views, a hammock and sunbeds plus a games room with a table tennis table and pool table! This unpretentious beach villa is graded 4 stars and has 4 en-suite bedrooms with quality bedlinen and towels. Rate indication: R2200 – R4000 per night.
Scarborough Lodge: Self-catering and B&B options. Luxury, modern, large gardens, two large pools, for unique upmarket accommodation in Scarborough look no further! This trendy lodge offers 8 bedrooms and can be booked for exclusive use for larger groups, sleeping upto 16 people. Please enquire about rates.
map location Scarborough in South Africa