A brief history of The V & A Waterfront

The V & A Waterfront lies on the shores of Table Bay and has a dramatic physical setting, located between two of the world's greatest urban icons - Table Mountain and Robben Island.

In 1654, a young man by the name of Jan van Riebeeck built the first small jetty that remained in use until well into the 19th century. This was part of his task commissioned by the Dutch East India Company to establish a refreshment station at The Cape of Good Hope for merchant ships travelling from Europe to the East Indies. The station was the foundation of the V & A Waterfront and also the beginning of the city of Cape Town.

In June 1858, winter storms wrecked over 30 vessels and Lloyd's of London refused to cover ships wintering in Table Bay. The V & A Waterfront derives its name from the two harbour basins around which it is developed. Construction began in 1860 when Midshipman HRH Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's second son, tipped the first load of stone to start construction of the breakwater for Cape Town's first harbour. With the discovery of gold and diamonds, the Alfred Basin was almost immediately too small and a second basin, the Victoria Basin, was completed.

In November 1988, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront was established to redevelop the historic docklands around the Victoria and Alfred basins as a mixed use-area with a focus on retail, tourism, residential development, with the continued operation of a working harbour.

Tourist operators provide visitors with many opportunities to enjoy the Waterfront. You can experience beautiful views of Table Mountain, Cape Town city bowl, Robben Island and the V & A Waterfront from a boat whilst cruising the rich Atlantic waters.

Waterfront boat cruises