West Coast Holiday Guide

What is still an almost undiscovered treasure trove of unspoilt beaches, incredible mountain ranges, rich geographical diversity, and the most astounding carpet of wild flowers in spring, has evolved into a major holiday route out of Cape Town along Route 27.

The West Coast consists of the following major towns:

– BRITANNIA BAY – CITRUSDAL – CLANWILLIAM – DARLING – DORINGBAAI – DWARSKERSBOS – ELANDS BAY – GROTTO BAY – HERMON  – JACOBS BAY – LAWER – LAMBERT’S BAY – LANGEBAAN – MALMESBURY – MORREESBURG – PATERNOSTER – PHILADELPHIA – PORTERVILLE – RIEBEEK KASTEEL – SALDANHA – SHELLEY POINT – ST. HELENA BAY – STRANDFONTEIN – VANRHYNSDORP – VELDDRIFT – VREDENBURG – YZERFONTEIN

BRITANNIA BAY

Location:

Britannia Bay is a little town about 160 km from Cape Town, named after the British ship of the same name that was wrecked just 3 miles west of the present day Britannia Bay. The wreck, originally salvaged by local farmer Martin Melck, was re-discovered in 1998 and artefacts recovered that include valuable porcelain crockery and full bottles of wine and ale.

Description and Vibe:

The beauty of Britannia Bay is in the miles of unspoilt beaches, the quaint character of the older holiday cottages in the original village with its slow way of life and the proximity to numerous water activities that include fishing, diving, surfing, yachting, water-skiing and sail boarding. This part of the coast is notoriously tranquil, despite modern development along the coast. Seal Island is a 10 minute boat ride from Britannia Bay and is perfect for fishing and crayfishing and the shallow waters of Britannia Bay attract Southern Right and Humpback whales as well as resident pods of the rare Heaviside dolphin.

Nearby attractions:

Cederberg Wilderniss Area

Activities:

  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Whale and dolphin watching

CITRUSDAL

Location:

Known as the gateway to the Cederberg, the village of Citrusdal lies just 2 hours from Cape Town on the N7, nestled between the Koue Bokkeveld and the Swartberg Mountains. Citrusdal, synonymous with citrus farming, is set amongst green citrus orchards and fields of rooibos tea, buchu and wild flowers. Goue Vallei wines are produced from locally grown grapes.

Description and Vibe:

The Cederberg was proclaimed a wilderness area in 1973 and stretches from the Middlelberg Pass at Citrusdal to the Pakhuis Pass at Clanwilliam, including about 71 000 ha of rugged, mountainous terrain. The conservancy – custodians of the Clanwilliam Cedar tree and home to the rare Cape Leopard – runs as a voluntary agreement between local landowners. The people of Citrusdal live in peace and harmony with it’s tranquel surroundings.

Nearby attractions:

The oldest orange tree in the country, said to be more than 250 years old and declared a national monument, stands on the farm Hexrivier in the Citrusdal valley.

Activities:

The Citrusdal valley is one of the most beautiful and popular amongst hikers, mountain bikers and bird watchers alike.

Restaurants:

  • MacGregor’s Restaurant
  • Tangelo’s Restaurant
  • Die Sitrus
  • The Grapevine
  • Hebron Restaurant, Coffee Shop and Farm Stall
  • Potbelly Restaurant
  • Die Sandveldhuisie
  • Uitspan Coffee Shop

CLANWILLIAM

Location:

Clanwilliam rests at the foot of the Cederberg mountain range, 230 km from Cape Town.

Description and Vibe:

One of the only towns in the world where rooibos is planted and cultivated, Clanwilliam is also one of the ten oldest towns in South Africa. It was originally called Jan Disselsvalleij but was changed by Sir John Cradock in 1814, after his father-in-law, the Earl of Clanwilliam.

Nearby attractions:

Most of Clanwilliam falls within the Fynbos Biome, home to a number of endangered endemic fynbos, including the Clanwilliam Cedar after which the Cederberg is named. Once abundant, the cedar is now on the verge of extinction. A number of annual sporting events, including the Rooibos Half Marathon, the Rooibos Triathlon and the Big Walk make Clanwilliam a popular destination.

Activities:

Clanwilliam has a lot to offer tourists – beautiful mountains, rock art, bird watching, watersports at the Clanwilliam Dam, wild flowers in season, a local art gallery, hikes and walks, a number of historical buildings, the rooibos factory and the local veldskoen (leather shoes) factory.

Restaurants:

  • Olifantshuis Restaurant and Pub
  • Rheinhold’s Restaurant
  • Strassberger’s Hotel
  • Bianca’s Pizza
  • Clanwilliam Lodge
  • De Kelder Pub & Grill

Guesthouses:

Suttridge  Guest House

DARLING

Location:

Darling is a little village about 75 km west of Cape Town and a perfect weekend getaway town as a result. Darling lies within the Cape West Coast Biosphere reserve and is synonymous with the annual wild flowers that turn the surrounding countryside into a rich tapestry of colour during spring of every year. Darling has hosted a flower show every year since 1917.

Description and Vibe:

The streets are lined with lovingly restored Victorian homes and old trees and a number of artists have settled here. Darling has earned a place in every South African’s heart as the home of the famous Evita Bezuidenhout (Pieter Dirk Uys) – non-PC superstar, the most famous white woman in South Africa and best babotie maker to boot!

Nearby attractions:

Visiting Evita se Peron at the Darling station is an obligation when in Darling.

Activities:

Darling is in the middle of a new discovery area of modern Cape Wines and some of these have already achieved critical acclaim, including Alexanderfontein, Groote Post and Darling Cellars, which you can visit for wine tasting.

Restaurants:

  • Groote Post Restaurant
  • Lelieblom Farm
  • Bistro Seven
  • Hilda’s Kitchen at Groote Post

DORINGBAAI

Location:

Doringbaai is a scenic little town on the Cape West Coast near Strandfontein and Langebaan, about 300 km west of Cape Town. You can get to Doringbaai along the N7, after which you travel parallel to the Olifants River for a while, past towns with quaint names like Papendorp.

Description and Vibe:

The bay was originally used as an anchorage on the northward sea trading route and the original lighthouse at Doringbaai still serves as a beacon to tourists and fishermen alike. The local crayfish factory, which supports most of the town?s population, creates a wonderful photographic opportunity together with the jetty and lighthouse.

Nearby attractions:

Doringbaai has much to offer visitors: ocean views, diverse coastal vegetation and sea birds. Bird Island Nature Reserve is a must see.

Activities:

In season wild flowers are abundant in the area and Heaviside dolphins and Southern Right whales can be spotted along the coast. A popular hiking trail exists along the deserted beach between Doringbaai and Strandfontein and those seeking an adrenaline rush can view the scenery from a hangglider.

Restaurants:

  • The Cabin Seafood Restaurant
  • Kliphuis

Guesthouses:

DWARSKERSBOS

Nearby Attractions:

  • Rocherpan Nature Reserve
  • West Coast Fossil Park

Restaurants:

 

  • Dwarskersbos Hotel

ELANDS BAY

Location:

The small town of Elands Bay is situated approximately 200 kilometres to the north of Cape Town on the Atlantic Ocean coast.

Description and Vibe

The town still maintains the laid back lifestyle for which the west coast of the Western Cape has become known.

Nearby attractions:

The town is situated at the mouth of the Verlorenvlei or lost marsh, and the estuary supports some 500 species of birds including flamingoes and pelicans. Elands Bay forms part of the Whale Route, and whales and dolphins can be seen during the flower sea son in Spring. Elands Bay, with its endless beach and totally peaceful surroundings is the perfect hideaway for city dwellers wishing to get away from it all. The area was once home to Bushmen and a wealth of Bushman art and paintings can be found in caves that are accessible to visitors. Visit Bird Island Nature Reserve and Rocherpan Nature Reserve.

Activities:

The small town offers the visitor a host of outdoor activities including surfing, rock climbing, mountain biking, rowing, sailing, bird watching and whale watching.

Restaurants:

  • Elands Bay Hotel Restaurant
  • Hotel Eland Restaurant
  • Draaihoek Lodge

GROTTO BAY

Location:

The resort is just 60 kilometres from Cape Town and is a place where you will find outstanding sunsets and beauty beyond compare.

Description and Vibe

Grotto Bay, carpets of spring flowers and the sound of the ocean. This is the natural beauty that you will find at Grotto Bay, tucked away on the west coast of the Western Cape Province in the Grotto Bay private Nature Reserve. Here you can enjoy the laid back lifestyle of the region, with the Atlantic Ocean only metres from your front door.

Attractions:

Grotto Bay offers breathtaking views and an abundance of wild flowers. Here is that famous breathtaking view of the whole length of Table Mountain, one of the world’s most famous views.  The West Coast’s dry, temperate Mediterranean climate promises long sun-drenched summer days and the winters bring green veld and clear, windless days.

Activities:

From mid-August to mid-September carpets of wild flowers cover the veld with a floral splendour, Grotto Bay forms part of the Cape Whale Route and whales are often seen here.

Restaurants:

  • Grotto Bay Hotel
  • Kaijaiki Country Country Inn and Restaurant

HERMON

Location:

Hermon is a peaceful and tranquil town on the West Coast of Cape Town and only 60mins away from the Cape Town International Airport. Hermon is on 45mins away from Cape Town centre and 15mins away from the historic towns of Wellington and Tulbach. The stunning scenic towns of Paarl, Franschoek & Stellenbosch Winelands are easily accessible from Hermon.

Description and Vibe

Hermon is on the Cape West Coast with hot & dry summer months and extremely cold & wet winters with snow on the surrounding mountains.

Nearby attractions:

Limietberg nature Reserve is near Hermon where you can expect to see many different animals such as Dassie, klipspringer and Baboon. Not far from Hermon you can also view Bushman’s Paintings. While in Hermon, you can also visit the tranquil village of Riebeek Kasteel which is situated at the foot of Kasteel Mountain.

Activities:

If you are a keen fisherman and have brought your rods with, then take a trip to the Bergriver and try your hand at some trout fishing or just sit and enjoy the tranquility, you will more than likely spot the pair of Fish Eagles that live there. If you are feeling a bit more energetic then you can go canoeing or mountain biking.

Restaurants:

  • Batholomeus Klip Farmhouse
  • Hermon Hotel

JACOBS BAY

Location:

The isolated hamlet of Jacobsbaai, just north of Saldanha Bay, is less than 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town along the R27.

Description and Vibe

Locals and tourists alike call this area “Namaqualand by the Sea” and the countryside around Jacobsbaai does indeed turn into a wildflower tapestry in spring.

Nearby attractions:

Jacobsbaai might be small but it boasts 7 different bays, each with its own personality. Jacobsbaai has a sea frontage of 2km with sandy and rocky bays that are home to a variety of seafood, such as mussels, abalone and crayfish. The coastal fynbos supports a variety of wildlife including jackal, duiker, steenbok and tortoise.

Activities:

Bird watching is popular, especially during the migration season and Southern Right whales and dolphins can be spotted along the coast.

Other activities in Jacobsbaai include fishing, diving, crayfishing and hiking. A 17 km hiking trail runs between the Swartriet and Tietiesbaai bays, while Kwaaibaai is a good spot for surfing. Toothrock and Bamboesbaai are popular for diving, fishing and crayfishing.

Restaurants:

  • Weskusplek
  • Kiwi Lodge Restaurant

LAWER

Location:

The little town of Klawer lies nestled between the Matzikamma Mountains and Olifants River, less than 3 hours drive from Cape Town on the N7.

Description and Vibe

Klawer was named after the wild clover that grows wild in the area. During flower season, the peaceful but dry countryside is transformed into a colourful landscape.

Nearby attractions:

Local guides provide tours of rock art dating from early Khoi-San and Bushmen inhabitants. Klawer produces fruit and vegetables for the local and export market and one can tour one of the local farms, Kapel, to see these undertakings in action. Another attraction is the irrigation canal siphon at Kransbrug, built by Italian prisoners of war, which transfers water from the western to the eastern channel of the Olifants River.

Activities:

Popular activities in and around Klawer include hiking trails, 4×4 trails and river rafting at the nearby Doring River. Wine tasting is on offer at the Klawer winery and history lovers can visit Windhoek Farm – site of the 1902 skirmish between General Jan Smuts and the British.

Restaurants:

  • Klawer Hotel

LAMBERT’S BAY

Location:

Lambert’s Bay is a popular town with eco-tourists and locals and is just 280 km from Cape Town.

Description and Vibe

Lambert’s Bay was named after a British admiral who charted the coastline between 1826 and 1940. This is crayfish country, and Lambert’s Bay is well known for seafood delicacies such as harders, galjoen, snoek and the west coast lobster. Popular local, open-air restaurants make unforgettable traditional meals on the beach.

Nearby attractions:

Boat trips provide opportunities to spot endemic Heaviside dolphin, Dusky dolphin, and seasonal Southern Right and Humpback whale. Bird Island, dense with breeding colonies of gannets, penguins, cormorants and seals, provides bird watchers with hours of delight and wetland birds, such as flamingos, pelicans and waders, can be seen at the Jakkals River Lake.

Activities:

Popular activities include watersports, fishing, sandboarding, and golf and quad bike tours and microlight flights are also available. In spring, wildflowers decorate the surrounding land in a carpet of colour, particularly within Lambert’s Bay Nature Reserve. Unique hiking trails in Lambert’s bay take one across bare dunes and elephant-like rocks.

Restaurants:

  • Muisbosskerm Open Air Restaurant
  • Bosduifklip Restaurant
  • Plaaskombuis
  • Die Kreefhuis
  • Isabella’s Coffee Shop
  • Panorama Park
  • Villa Romano Ristorante
  • Spill the Beans Coffee Shop
  • Waves Restaurant

LANGEBAAN

Location:

Langebaan is a lagoon town, just over 100 km from Cape Town along the West Coast. The lagoon in Langebaan is home to over 360 species of birds and the town is an eco-attraction that draws visitors to windsurf, kitesurf and fish in its waters. The lagoon was zoned in 1976 as a protected area and later declared a National Park, originally to protect the birds. Recent concerns about over fishing mean that this protection can be extended to conserving stumpnose, steenjie, white steenbras and kob.

Description and Vibe

This picture perfect village is popular for its lagoon, the rich carpet of spring wild flowers in August and September and seasonal whale spotting. Langebaan’s origins can be traced back ten million years to when it was a site where leaders of the Khoi nation regularly met. Earlier this century the biggest whaling station in the southern hemisphere was operational here but with its closure Langebaan has quietened into a seasonal holiday town and was popular with pensioners until the recent property boom.

Nearby attractions:

The lagoon in Langebaan is home to over 360 species of birds and the town is an eco-attraction. The lagoon was zoned in 1976 as a protected area and later declared a National Park, originally to protect the birds. Recent concerns about over fishing mean that this protection can be extended to conserving stumpnose, steenjie, white steenbras and kob.

Activities:

The lagoon draws visitors to windsurf, kitesurf and fish in its waters.

Restaurants:

  • The Farmhouse Hotel
  • Friday Island
  • Froggy’s
  • Die Strandloper
  • Boesmanland Farm Kitchen
  • A & J Restaurant and Sushi Bar
  • Boston BBQ
  • Caffe San Marco
  • Geelbek Restaurant
  • Pancakes Galore
  • Sandwich Deli
  • Spinnakers Restaurant
  • The Oystercatcher
  • Vlakvarkgat
  • Zizi’s Restaurant & Bar

MALMESBURY

Location:

Malmesbury is the largest town in Swartland and only 45km from Cape Town centre.

Description and Vibe

Malmesbury is on the West Coast of the Western Cape with hot & dry summer months and extremely cold & wet winters with snow on the surrounding mountains. Malmesbury is known as “black land” because of its rich black soil of the land. It is mostly a farming community, such as sheep, wine, grain and poultry and has been since the 1700’s.

Nearby attractions:

Malmesbury has stunning scenery. Liemietberg Nature Reserve is near Malmesbury where you can expect to see many different animals such as Dassie, klipspringer and Baboon. While in Malmesbury you should go and visit the very popular and famous 80 seat theatre which used to be the old Darling station in Darling, home to the infamous Evita Bezuidenhout.

Activities:

There is a golf course nearby where you will enjoy the beautiful mountain views while playing 18 holes on luscious a green course. Some of the farms nearby Malmesbury offer 4×4 trails which are very enjoyable. You can also go hiking or mountain biking. The are boasts the most beautiful wine and olive farms where you can go on tours.

Restaurants:

  • Spur
  • KFC
  • Kontreispens
  • Pacino’s Pizza
  • Southern Rose Coffee Shop
  • The Manor Restaurant

MORREESBURG

Location:

The town of Moorreesburg lies in the heart of the Swartland, just 70 km from the West Coast and an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

Description and Vibe

With endless fields of wheat and the only wheat museum in South Africa – one of three in the world – Moorreesburg has agri-tourism and eco-tourism at the centre of its attraction to visitors. Moorreesburg is fast becoming a popular weekend destination for busy Capetonians wanting a break away from it all in the tranquillity of unspoilt countryside.

Nearby attractions:

One can visit local farms in Moorreesburg to experience wheat farming first-hand; the museum hosts wheat fossils that date back to the Egyptians and great effort goes into the protection of the local, unspoiled indigenous Rhenosterveld, for which the Swartland is named – when the Renosterveld is dry, it turns black.

Activities:

Activities in Moorreesburg include canoeing, swimming, fishing and hiking and the local golf course provides a good 9-hole round of golf.

Restaurants:

  • Samoa Hotel

PATERNOSTER

Location:

Paternoster – meaning “our father” – is a gorgeous, traditional fishing town, one of the last of its kind, just 150 km from Cape Town.

Description and Vibe

With little commercialisation, Paternoster is definitely one of the most attractive of the West Coast fishing villages and little has changed here over the years. Paternoster is famous for its crayfish and there are a number of tiny, white-washed fishermen’s cottages that lie along the long, white beach. Small fishing vessels leave here every morning at dawn, returning at dusk with the catch of the day.

Nearby attractions:

Paternoster lies virtually on the Columbine Nature Reserve, where displays of wild flowers in spring are unsurpassed. Just south of Paternoster is Cape Columbine’s lighthouse, the red and white stripes visible from a hill within the reserve.

Activities:

Other than seriously relax and take long walks on the beach during sunset, you can visit the local potter’s studio, visit the West Coast Fossil Park and go sea kayaking or take part in other water sports.

Restaurants:

  • Paternoster Lodge and Restaurant
  • Voorstrandt Restaurant
  • Noisy Oyster
  • Paternoster Hotel

PHILADELPHIA

Location:

Philadelphia is approximately 20km from a town called Melkbosstrand where you will be able to visit some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches on the coast.

Description and Vibe

Philadelphia is a beautiful historic little town in the Western Cape. It is on the West Coast of the Western Cape with hot & dry summer months and extremely cold & wet winters with snow on the surrounding mountains.

Nearby attractions:

Malmesbury is 25km from Philadelphia where you could visit Limiteberg Nature Reserve or undoubtably one of the most popular little theatres called Evita se Perron which is in Darling, the home of the infamous Evita Bezuidenhout. Philadelphia also has easy access to numerous wine estates.

Activities:

If you are feeling energetic and are in the mood for something different, then experience the fun and exciting game of Paint Ball either with your mates or as a team building excercise with your working colleagues.

PIKETBERG

Location:

Piketberg is about 1hr 15min from Cape Town and lies at the foot of the Piketberg mountains in the heart of the Swartland.

Description and Vibe

Piketberg is surrounded by farms of fruit and wheat. There used to be a canon ontop of the Piketberg mountain which was used to warn people of danger or to let the farmers know that the ship has arrived and then they would bring their fresh farm produce down to the harbour. Piketberg is on the West Coast of the Western Cape with hot & dry summer months and extremely cold & wet winters with snow on the surrounding mountains.

Nearby attractions:

Piketberg is about 1hr 15min from Cape Town itself where you can visit the V & A Waterfront or take the family to the popular Two Oceans Aquarium. From the top of the Piketberg mountain you can enjoy breathtaking views of the fruit and golden wheat farms. About 120km from Cape Town, you will be able to visit the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area which is known for its good conservation of Fynbos and wildlife.

Activities:

There are many activities in Piketberg and nearby towns such as horse riding, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing. Piketberg has a 9 hole golf course where you can practice your swing while on holiday or take the whole family for a fun game. There are nearby farms that offer tours and wine tasting. About 50km from Piketberg you can go paragliding or skydiving.

Restaurants:

  • Piket Steakhouse
  • Die Sinkdak Coffee Shop
  • Nederberg Hotel
  • Winkelshoek
  • Country Kitchen
  • Spur
  • Soetkysie
  • Piket-bo-Berg Nursery & Tea Garden

PORTERVILLE

Location:

The picturesque little town of Porterville lies at the feet of the Olifants River Mountains, only 140 km north of Cape Town within one of the most scenic valleys in the Cape.

Description and Vibe

Porterville was named after the Attorney General of the Cape, William Porter, in 1863 when the original farm Pomona was subdivided. Remants of early San inhabitant rock art are evident in caves amongst dramatic rock formations.

Nearby attractions:

Porterville is the gateway to the Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve with fine examples of indigenous flora and fauna, including the only naturally occuring colony of yellow Disa.

Activities:

The town is best known by locals and visitors alike as the paragliding and hanggliding capital of South Africa as the sky over Porterville produces some powerful thermals during summer. Porterville lies within the famous Swartland wine region, named for its characteristic dark foliage. Most of the vines are from dryland conditions (not irrigated) and much sought after for their excellent quality and flavour. Wine tasting at the Porterville Cellars is therefore a must.

Restaurants:

  • Gat se Lat Steakhouse
  • Pappaz Pizza & Restaurant
  • Porterville Country Hotel & Restaurant
  • Burger Palace
  • Porterville Fish & Chips Shop
  • Die Ou Stasie Restaurant and Bush Pub
  • Take a Break Diner
  • The Olive Branch
  • Villa Cho-Co-Latt Restaurant & Coffee Shop

RIEBEEK KASTEEL

Location:

Riebeek kasteel is quaint historic village at the foot of Kasteelberg mountain and is set among gorgeous olive groves and spectacular vineyards.

Description and Vibe

Riebeek Kasteel is on the West Coast of the Western Cape with hot & dry summer months and extremely cold & wet winters with snow on the surrounding high mountain peaks.

Nearby attractions:

There are various wineries which can be visited where you can experience the uniqueness of the different wines from the farms.

Activities:

Riebeek Kasteel has many attractions for the whole family which include, hiking, mountain biking and an abundant birdlife for bird lovers. You can also go on game drives or just 45mins away visit the historic towns, Paarl, Stellenbosch & Wellington. During the month of July there is a ever popular Berg River Canoe Marathon.

Restaurants:

  • Bar Bar Black Sheep
  • Café Felix
  • Café Merlot Wine & Cocktail Bar
  • The Royal Hotel
  • The Barn
  • Kasteelberg Country Inn and Bistro
  • Flamboyant

SALDANHA

Location:

The town of Saldanha lies on the coast, 140km from Cape Town, close to the seaside villages of Jacobsbaai and Paternoster.

Description and Vibe

The bay of Saldanha was discovered some 500 years ago by Portuguese explorers however, because of its geographic isolation and lack of fresh water, development has been gradual and the area remains in a largely pristine condition. Saldanha was built around one of the finest examples of a natural harbour on the African coast. The original sleepy village became fairly industrialised with the introduction of its huge iron ore quay and it plays a large role in the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore project as well as commercial fishing. Saldanha is also home to the Naval Training Base.

Nearby attractions:

The Hoedjieskoppie Nature Reserve, on a hill in the middle of Saldanha, includes gorgeous views and examples of traditional fishermen’s cottages.

Activities:

The bay in Saldanha provides plenty of action and water sports are very popular. The surrounding area provides a number of historical and eco-attractions, hiking trails, mountain bike and 4×4 trails.

Restaurants:

  • Blue Bay Lodge Restaurant
  • Duke’s on Main
  • Mussel Cracker Restaurant
  • Captain’s Cabin
  • The Slipway Waterfront Restaurant
  • Cloud 9
  • Coleen’s Coffee Shop

SHELLEY POINT

Location:

Shelley Point is about 90mins away from Cape Town itself.

Description and Vibe

Shelley Point is undoubtably one of the most exquisite villages on the waters edge of the unspoilt coastline in the Western Cape. Shelley Point is on the west coast coastline and enjoys the best Cape Mediterranean climate with hot summers and wet cool winters.

Nearby attractions:

Shelley Point has magnificent seaviews with dolphin and whale sightings almost all year round. The beaches are unspoilt with white sand stretching for miles.

Activities:

Shelley Point boasts some of the most popular surf spots. Sailing and fishing are popular for visitors and locals. There is a country club where you can enjoy 9 holes and the breathtaking scenery. For those who wish to spoilt themselves there is a Health Spa in a league of its own on Shelley Point.

ST. HELENA BAY

Location:

St. Helena Bay is situated 150 km west from Cape Town, on Route 27.  St

Description and Vibe

St Helena Bay is recognised as one of the calmest and one of only three natural bays in the world where it is possible to see the sun rise and set over the sea. St Helena Bay was named by Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama and is an important fishing centre, providing support for the local economy. Fish processing factories around St Helena Bay supply over half the fish in South Africa and the bay is known for its crayfish, anchovies and snoek.

Nearby attractions:

History enthusiasts can visit the Vasco da Gama Monument and Vasco da Gama Nautical Museum.

Activities:

Helena Bay is sheltered from the West Coast winds making it ideal for windsurfing. Other popular water activities include diving, sea kayaking, surfing and swimming in rock pools. Seasonal Southern Right Whales visit the Atlantic coastline during their calfing season, and dolphins can also be spotted. Wheat fields surrounding St Helena Bay provide for a number of hiking trails.

Restaurants:

  • Shelley Point Hotel

STRANDFONTEIN

Location:

This coastal village is close to the Olifants River mouth and is about 345km from Cape Town City Centre.

Description and Vibe

Strandfontein is a small village on the sea shore. Standfontein literally means, “fountain on the beach” where the San and Khoisan used to come down and get fresh water from the fountain. Strandfontein has a mediterranean climate with hot & dry summer months and cold and wet winters

Nearby attractions:

Strandfontein has beautiful unspoilt stretches of white sandy beaches. Bird Island Nature Reserve is nearby Strandfontein for the avid bird lover and it is breathtaking during the wild flower season.

Activities:

During late July to September, you can hike through the beaches which are covered with a spectacular array of colourful wild flowers. It also has some popular fishing spots and a tidal pool for swimming which is safe for the whole family. Strandfontein also has one of the most attractive and popular whale watching sites. For the adrenalin junkies, there are 4×4 dune trails.

VANRHYNSDORP

Location:

VanRhynsdorp is about 3 hours away from Cape Town City Centre.

Description and Vibe

Vanrhynsdorp was first known as “TroeTroe” until it was changed in 1881. Its a small, quiet, victorian style town with the Matsikama and Gifberg mountains towering around it. Vanrhynsdorp enjoys a mediterranean climate with hot & dry summer months and cold & wet winters with snow on the high mountain peaks.

Nearby attractions:

Vanrhynsdorp is the hub of all the flower routes and when in the area, you must not miss the wild flowers which are in full bloom during the months of July through August, a spectacular array of colours. Also there is the Van Rhijn Museum which is where you will learn the story of this interesting town.

Activities:

The Vanrhynsdorp mountains used to be the home to the San Bushmen and you can still visit the caves and see the rock art. There are a numerous hiking trails that you can enjoy.

Restaurants:

  • Namaqua Restaurant
  • Talk of Town
  • Zar Restaurant

Guesthouses

  • Suttridge  Guest House

VELDDRIFT

Location:

Just 90 minutes from Cape Town, on Route 27, the little village of Velddrif lies at the mouth of the Berg River in an area popular for its fishing, bird life and wild flowers.The Berg River estuary is home to a huge variety of water birds including the little Blue Heron and otters and water mongoose are a common sight.

Nearby attractions include the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, named after the 1829 shipwreck, the West Coast National Park and West Coast Fossil Park, Langebaan Lagoon and the Velddrif and Rocherpan Nature Reserves, which support over 190 different bird species.

Description and Vibe

Part of the Crayfish Route, Velddrif is well-known for its seafood delicacies – particularly Bokkoms (dried fish), a West Coast treat prepared and dried on the banks of the Berg River.

Fishing and salt are Velddrif’s main industries and one can attend organised tours of the salt factory.

Nearby attractions:

The Velddrif Bridge is always a welcoming sight as flocks of flamingos and pelicans use it as a base. The Berg River estuary is home to a huge variety of water birds including the little Blue Heron and otters and water mongoose are a common sight. Nearby attractions include the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, named after the 1829 shipwreck, the West Coast National Park and West Coast Fossil Park, Langebaan Lagoon and the Velddrif and Rocherpan Nature Reserves, which support over 190 different bird species.

Activities:

  • Hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Fishing
  • Sightseeing and tours

Restaurants:

  • Riviera Hotel

Guesthouses:

  • Sandvelder Guest House

VREDENBURG

Location:

The town of Vredenburg is 138km north of Cape Town and forms the business hub of the West Coast and an ideal springboard to the towns of Veldrif, St Helena Bay, Saldanha and Paternoster.

Description and Vibe

A dispute between two farmers over ownership rights of the fresh water spring running through the town led to its original name, Twisfontein (”quarrel spring”, and its subsequent name, Prosesfontein (”lawsuit spring”. With the building of a Dutch Reformed Church, in 1875, close to this infamous spring, the town was renamed Vredenburg (”peaceful town”). During the winter rainfall months the countryside around Vredenburg transforms from a dry landscape into green wheat fields and an immense wild flower tapestry.

Nearby attractions:

Vredenburg is near the Columbine Nature Reserve in Paternoster, the West Coast National Park and Langebaan, which offers a variety of water sports as well as a casino.

Activities:

Popular outdoor activities include horse riding, canoeing and hiking and visitors have access to a variety of arts and crafts. Vredenburg is also good for bird watching.

VREDENDAL

Location:

Vredendal lies in the fertile, green Olifants River Valley, just 300 km north of Cape Town and is famous for its wild flowers during spring.

Description and Vibe

Directly translated, Vredendal means “valley of peace” and the modern and fully developed town of Vredendal does indeed lie surrounded by the imposing and calming peaks of Gifberg, Maskam and Koebee, creating a beautiful and inviting setting.

Nearby attractions:

Vredendal is an ideal base from which to explore the Namaqualand, west coast and the Cederberg Mountains. It is on the famous Olifants River wine route and there are a handful of cellars that are worth a visit in and around Vredendal, many of whom have won gold and silver awards. Vredendal lies within the Matzikama region, known for its contrasting sandy plains, rugged mountains and lush riverbeds. The area appears almost semi-arid but has some of the most richly diverse succulent plant species in the world.

Activities:

Vredendal is only an hour’s drive from the beaches of Strandfontein and Doringbaai and there are a number of hikes in the surrounding mountains.

Restaurants:

  • Vredendal Hotel

YZERFONTEIN

Location:

Yzerfontein is a quiet little seaside village about 85 km north of Cape Town on the West Coast Road.

Description and Vibe

Famous for its carpet of wild flowers in spring, Yzerfontein has one of the most pristine beaches that spans 16 miles, all the way to the Postberg Nature Reserve within the West Coast National Park. Yzerfontein’s little harbour is responsible for about 60% of all the line fish caught on the West Coast and is thus well known for its snoek and crayfish and most of the locals make their money this way.

Nearby attractions:

Yzerfontein is a delightful destination for whale watching, particularly as there are a number of other wonderful birds and animals to see in the reserves close to Yzerfontein. Dassen Island supports a colony of African Penguins and the west Coast Fossil Park houses a number of fossils that date back about 5 million years.

Activities:

Activities include: surfing, fishing, bird watching, hiking and visits to Darling, just 10 minutes away, and Langebaan, some 30 minutes up the coast.

Restaurants:

  • Beaches Restaurant and The Boat House
  • Meeurots Restaurant
  • Die Strandkombuis
  • Westcoast Farmstall  and Restaurant
  • Kaijaiki Restaurant
  • The Linen Room
  • Beaches Rest
  • Die Rooi Granaat

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