Commander Leon Steyn, Officer-in-Charge SA Naval Museum

2021 has been a year of recovery for most museums around the world. The Covid-19 pandemic hit the museum industry hard during 2020, especially those so dependent on overseas tourism. Starved of visitors (and income), a number of museums were forced to close their doors temporarily and even faced permanent closure.

The SA Naval Museum is Simon’s Town was not spared from the debilitating effects of the pandemic and resulting lock-downs. Statistics showed a drastic reduction in visitor numbers during the last year. However, the museum and its staff persevered through these trying times and made the necessary adjustments, even reverting to the introduction of “virtual tours” on social media during the periods of lock-downs.

The more relaxed conditions of lock-down level one and the influx of holiday visitors to Simon’s Town in December offered much relieve to the museum industry and the SA Naval Museum in particular. Cape Town and Simon’s Town remain a popular holiday destination. The Naval Museum is conveniently situated on the tourism route and benefits from this influx of tourists, most of them making their way to the penguins at Boulders Beach or on a scenic rendezvous with Cape Point. It could have been significantly better, if not for the non-operational railway commuter service between Muizenberg and Simon’s Town, which normally draws additional casual pedestrian visitors to Simon’s Town.

During the early part of the holidays the museum saw a lot of visitors especially from the inland provinces. It was however most encouraging to also see local Capetonians visit during the last few weeks and many of our own Naval personnel with their families. The total amount of visitors that came to the SA Naval Museum during December amounted to just over 1700. The busiest day of the holidays proved to be Wednesday the 29th of December, when a total of 196 visitors came through the gate – all while still observing the necessary Covid-19 protocols which enforced the wearing of face-masks, the sanitizing of hands and the observance of social distancing.

Apart from the visitor numbers – most importantly – Google Review, TripAdvisor and the museum comments book showed that visitors really enjoyed the time and experience at the Naval Museum. Consistent positive ratings have raised the SA Naval Museum to the ‘second best thing to do in Simon’s Town’ (according to TripAdvisor). It turns out that the penguins at Boulders Beach are still more popular!

The SA Naval Museum remains open seven days a week from 09:30 – 15:30. Enquiries: 021 787 4686 or

Note on group photos: Masks removed in some cases to pose for a quick photo!