Saturday, October 9, 2010

V & A Waterfront and Two Oceans Aquarium

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For a break from the adventure and historical sight seeing that Cape Town has to offer the V&A Waterfront is the place to go. The waterfront is a fun indoor/outdoor area where you can find hundreds of shops, many restaurants, a large craft market, the Two Oceans Aquarium. Along the waterfront you can also catch boats going off on day cruises, shark dives, whale watching and this is also where you catch the boat to Robben Island, but I will write more about Robben Island later.

The waterfront basically has something to offer for everyone and I urge you to leave enough time to explore it. If you are looking for a good place to eat there are many great seafood restaurants all along the water where you can eat and watch the boats go by or the sunset over the water. The waterfront also has a large mall where you can pick up almost anything you need from local souvenir crafts to a sleeping bag (both of which I purchased).

The Two Oceans Aquarium is definitely worth a visit and can be done easily in under an hour if you go through at a quick pace. The aquarium has an interesting collection of local marine life from both the Atlantic and Indian oceans (ergo the name Two Oceans Aquarium). If you do not have time to visit Cape Point to see the African Penguin you will be able to see the very endangered animal here. However, if you have already done the trip it isn’t as exciting to see them in captivity once you’ve seen them frolicking on the beaches. There are not Great White Sharks at the aquarium, which people are always surprised and a bit disappointed by as that is what Cape Town is famous for, but Great White Sharks do not survive in captivity and even when handled with the up most care, they have never survived in aquariums. You do get a chance to see the endangered local abalone, which is being over fished by the Chinese and Japanese and is very protected in the wild. There are also other fun creatures to check out like the gigantic spider crabs, sea horses, frogs, and many species of fish.

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If I may pass on my experience to all of you I would suggest coming to the waterfront around 12:30pm, grab a nice lunch on the water, then head over to the aquarium at 1:30 where you can spend an hour looking around. Then catch the 3pm boat to Robben Island (for which you have to meet a 2:30) and that will get you back around 5:45pm. Spend the next hour or so walking around and doing some shopping as the sun sets and the sky turns pretty colors around you then pick a restaurant with a nice view and have dinner. Depending on the weather I would suggest skipping dessert at your restaurant and getting some ice cream from one of the stands around (or if no stands the mall’s food court) and walking around watching the various forms of entertainers that come out at night. And voila the perfect half day!

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