A Review of the Simon’s Town’s Scratch Patch

by - April 19, 2021

Title page: A review of the Simon's Town Scratch Patch

I don’t know why I am writing this post. I am quite embarrassed. But it’s true, despite taking a knock financially and despite my efforts to declutter, I recently ended up at a scratch patch and spent money on actual rocks. 

What is a scratch patch, you may ask?
It is a place where they cover the ground in polished gemstones and you can literally go scratching through them and buy your favourites. What could you possibly use these stones for? I do not know. And yet, somehow this is a business model that works! Humans are interesting.

I had been snorkelling that morning with friends. One of them had studied geology and is now a jewellery designer. She wanted to go shopping for some precious stones for some jewellery pieces that she was working on and asked if we could swing past the Scratch Patch on the way home. That made sense to me. 

Some of her friends joined us for snorkelling that morning. They have occupations that in no way relate to rocks but they are, for some reason, super passionate about gemstones and crystals. They jumped at the chance to tag along. That made less sense to me and I secretly judged them in my mind for being so excited to spend money on something so pointless. 

Now, I’m not saying you should go to the scratch patch. If you are a childless adult who doesn’t have a jewellery design business there really is no good reason to go there, but if you were to go to a scratch patch, here are some things that you might like about it:


11 Reasons to visit the Simon’s Town Scratch Patch: 

1. Entrance is free.
That is my first shameful confession: You don’t even have to pay to get in! They will let you wander straight in and stare at the strangely alluring but super-pointless, seriously-who-needs-rocks-in-their-lives rocks. 

2. The rocks are really pretty.
Exhibit A:

Gemstones in a hand

3. You can take off your shoes and feel the cold smooth pebbles under your feet.
It’s one of those magnificent and highly under-rated simple pleasures that people get to experience in this life. (There is also hand sanitiser at the entrance and exit if you want to sanitise your hands after handling rocks that have been exposed to peoples feet and their possible fungal foot conditions.) 

Feet on a bed of gemstones

4. You pay by bag size so you can decide on your budget upfront 
Second confession: I didn’t even buy the smallest one!

5. Kids love it!
And by this, I mean if you are a childless adult who was kinda hoping to be a parent but it doesn’t look like things are working out for you, people’s overly-excited, obnoxious children will constantly be shrieking at each other at that very specific pitch that feels like nails on a chalkboard and you will suddenly be at peace with all the decisions that you have made in your life and the fact that you have not yet frozen your eggs. 
It's a magical place!

6. There are museum exhibits. 
I’m not saying they are good museum exhibits, I’m just saying that there are some. I did like the moon rock exhibit where they show you rocks under ultra-violet light.

Simon's Town Scratch Patch museum exhibit

7. You can look down into the factory area.
Is ‘factory’ the right word? They don’t make rocks they just cut them and tumble-polish them and stuff. Apparently, the process can take weeks but it looks like they stop for the weekend. It is interesting even if it is closed and nothing’s happening. 

Gemstone factory at the Simon's Town Scratch Patch

8. There is a gift store full of rock-related items. (Mineral world)
Apart from ornaments, jewellery and rough crystals, according to their website, they also sell megalodon teeth. What? And no, I didn’t buy one. 

Mineral World shop at the Scratch Patch

9. There are public toilets. 
Always a win!

10. There is a moat to keep the riff-raff out. 
It may actually be for the purpose of rinsing your rocks if you feel you need to, but it may also be the closest you'll ever come to feeling like a princess. 

The Simon's Town Scratch Patch

11. There is a putt-putt course in a fake cave-area-thing.
There is actually another scratch patch in Cape Town close to the waterfront (a different branch of the same company). It also has ‘Cave golf’. I am not sure why these things go together but apparently, it’s a thing. 

Cape Town tends to be quite big on their putt-putt. There are a number of ocean-side courses around. I’m not sure I would choose this course specifically, but why not? Though the entrance just looks like fake rocks, apparently there's an underground waterfall and some other fun mineral displays embedded in said fake rocks.


About the company

Of the two Scratch Patches in Cape Town, this branch is the original. It opened in 1970 which means this crack-dealer-like business model of inviting people in for free to let them look at the shiny rocks only to leave a few minutes (or hours) later with only rocks in their purses has been working for over half a century! The crack dealers probably learnt it from them!

It is a place where you can have loads of fun “scratching” for your favourite tumble-polished gemstones from thousands of polished stones that quite literally cover the floor.

Scratch Patch / Mineral World exterior view


Interesting facts about these rocks

  • The rocks here are so smooth and shiny because they have been tumble-polished which means they have been rubbing up against each other in a barrel-like tumbler thing.
  • It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to tumble polish a rock (depending on the type). 
  • Water, plastic pellets, iron fillings, sawdust and other abrasives are often added to the tumblers to aid the polishing process.
  • They have about 150 varieties of stone from all around the world here.


Opening Times:

Monday - Friday :8:30am–4:45pm
Saturday - Sunday & Holidays: 9:00am - 4:30pm


Scratch Patch Ticket prices:

Free!

The stones are priced according to bag size: 
Small bag: R25 
Medium bag: R42 (pictured below)
Large bag: R130 
Cup: R85 

Medium bag of gemstones - Scratch Patch

Round of golf: R35 per player
Groups of 10: R30 per player


How to get to the Simon’s Town Scratch Patch

Address: Dido Valley Rd, Simon's Town, Cape Town, 7995
Simon’s Town is a 40 minute drive from the centre of Cape Town. 

If you have your own transport or a rental car, directions can be found here.  

Ride services like Uber or Lyft are recommended as a reliable form of transport for international tourists to Cape Town, or those without private transport. 


Moat at entrance of Simon's Town Scratch Patch

Scratch Patch COVID-19 Protocols: 

  • Masks are mandatory. (The actual scratch patch area is outdoors and therefore well-ventilated)
  • Hand sanitiser is stationed at the entrance and exit to the scratch patch area. There is also hand sanitiser and handwashing stations scattered around. 
  • Social distancing is maintained even on the putt-putt course.

The Simon's Town Scratch Patches contact info:
The Scratch Patch website can be found here.
Phone: 021 786 2020


Other things to do in Simon's Town:


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