In the 1800s the road from Muizenberg to Kalk Bay was in reasonable state, and good were transported there by ox-wagon and taken by sea to Simons’ Town. At the same time the lime kilns were developed, and the fishing industry was established.
By 1795 Kalk Bay was a flourishing village. Before long, whaling was added to the many activities. This lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1883 the railway arrived in Kalk Bay, and in 1913 the much needed breakwater project started. It was completed in 1919.
Kalk Bay lies between the ocean and sharply rising mountainous heights that are buttressed by crags of grey sandstone. A literal translation from the Dutch/Afrikaans name “Kalkbaai” is “Lime Bay”. Many of the surrounding caves were formed below the water table, where water chemically weakened the structure of the sandstone and streams bore the loosened grain of sand away.
Many famous caves (with names such as ‘Ronan’s Well’, after the Walter Scott novel St. Ronan’s Well, and ‘Free Drinks Saloon’) are located in the mountains above the village. They are of importance to spaeleologists because they have formed in sandstone. Large cave systems are not often found in this type of chemically unreactive rock.
Kalk Bay is also home to the famous surf spot named “Kalk Bay Reef”. This is renowned for heavy barrels and the associated shallow reef. It is best surfed on a big south-easterly swell or a north west wind. In smaller swells low tide makes for better barrels.