Spectacular sun-drenched Cape Town is more than just sharks

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JAWS wide open, a 15ft Great White shark bears its teeth just inches from me.

At least that’s what I’m hoping for on my holiday in South Africa.

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Camps Bay in Cape Town is a spectacular setting for a seaside mealCredit: Shutterstock

But as my wife and I discover, these notorious man-eaters have largely disappeared from one of their favourite hangouts.

No one is quite sure why and where they’ve gone — although one popular theory is they’ve been scared off after a series of attacks by killer whales.

So rather than tick off a lifelong ambition to get into the water with a Great White, we spend five long hours sitting on a boat getting sunburnt.

We spot some seals and a lot of seagulls in the waters off the coast of Gansbaai, two hours south of Cape Town.

But they are hardly a substitute for the most fearsome predator on the planet.

As we prepare to make the three-hour return trip — having started the day at 4am — the shark dive company does at least offer us a free cage dive if we return.

Fortunately, there is more to Cape Town than sharks.

The area is also famous for its wine, with Franschhoek and Stellenbosch the stand out regions within easy distance of the city.

We use the brilliant hop-on-hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram to explore the breathtaking valley.

We visit four in a sun-drenched afternoon, tasting everything from sparkling rosé to rich reds and crisp whites.

The highlight is Holden Manz, where we pick up a hamper full of tasty treats and a bottle of wine.

We then carry it through the scorching vineyard to an idyllic shady spot under some trees on the bank of a small river for the most romantic picnic imaginable.

Mouth-watering food and wine is also easy to find back in Cape Town. The metropolis boasts an incred-ible array of international cuisine to rival any city in the world.

A meal at Codfather in Camps Bay is a must. Amid its bustling atmosphere, a waiter guides us to the seafood counter before talking us through the huge array of freshly caught produce.

Oysters, octopus, lobster, scallops, crab — it’s like a pick ’n’ mix for seafood lovers.

We’re told to select as much or as little of anything — and take full advantage of the unique experience.

Try to catch sunset a short stroll away on the Camps Bay strip. This exclusive part of town, much loved by celebrities from Prince Harry to Leonardo DiCaprio, is packed with bars oozing a glamorous clientele.

Sipping a cocktail while watching the sky turn from blue to pink to purple over the ocean is magical.

Groups of kids on the opposite side of the road sing traditional African songs for those enjoying a drink, hoping to earn some money.

This is a popular form of begging in a city with an unwelcome reputation for problems with crime.

Our experience is totally trouble free, and not only do we feel safe, but are blown away by the warmth and hospitality we receive.

Cape Town, easily navigated by hire car, is surrounded by stunning beaches. But beware the icy cold waters.

While not ideal for swimming, they’re perfect for African penguins.

Watching the adorable animals happily hopping around at Boulders Beach in blazing sunshine is as delightful as it is bizarre.

Another popular attraction is Robben Island, “home” to former president Nelson Mandela for 18 years while he was a political prisoner.

It’s a fascinating insight into the country’s recent history and the tour, on which we see Mandela’s tiny cell, is conducted by former inmates, offering a real perspective on life in incarceration.

The boat trip to and from the island proves very much part of the experience.

As well as wonderful views of the city and Table Mountain, we are joined by a playful school of dolphins.

Whether on the water or sipping wine in the valleys, the beautiful nature and stunning views of Cape Town are inescapable.

Now borders are finally open again, I can’t wait to return. I just hope the sharks have come back too.

Camps Bay is also a popular haunt for celebs

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Camps Bay is also a popular haunt for celebsCredit: Shutterstock
Hop on and off the Franschhoek Wine Tram

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Hop on and off the Franschhoek Wine TramCredit: Shutterstock
You may see African penguins even if sharks are more unpredictable

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You may see African penguins even if sharks are more unpredictable
Cape Town is known for it's sharks, but their sightings have become more infrequent

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Cape Town is known for it’s sharks, but their sightings have become more infrequentCredit: Barcroft Media
Stunning video shows battered great white shark covered in scars and bite marks after years of battles

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