South Africa is beautiful, inland and on the coast, there are no two ways about it. Pick an ocean, Indian or Atlantic, and make your way to the shores of some beautiful beaches. How about a bargain? You’re bound to not only experience the coastal and beach life but will likely find a thriving plant life as well, depending on where you go. Here are a few must-see coastal towns starting from the West coast and working its way up.
This fishing town is where Vasco de Gama, the Portuguese explorer, officially set foot when he came to South Africa in 1497 (there’s even a monument to prove it). This bay is rich in marine life from crayfish to snoek, to Heaviside dolphins, killer and humpback whales. No surprise that there are 11 fish processing factories in the area. Visit Stompneusbaai and Shelley Bay Beach for fishing, shell-searching, swimming, snorkeling and bird watching. And be sure to stay for the beautiful sunset over the bay.
Hermanus lies on the south coast of South Africa along Walker Bay and is in the Cape Floristic Region. For a close-up experience with the fynbos and plantlife, visit the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. Go for a walk through the gardens, have a picnic or join them in September for the Hermanus Flower Festival. But what Hermanus is famous for is their Whale Festival where the southern right whale is celebrated with crowds of over 100 000 visitors to the town.
For a vintage experience, visit Romantiques for antique trinkets, furniture, genuine military items, vinyls and an in-house cinema that shows classic films. Spend a day at any of the small “secret” beaches or take a stroll along Grotto main beach and enjoy the tranquility of a beach day surrounded by mountain views.
If you’re wondering where you’ve heard of Plettenberg Bay before, it’s probably from your teens asking you to go to Plett Rage. Besides being the beach-party town in December for graduating students, there are many different festivals and events throughout the year to keep you entertained. To avoid disappointment, do yourself a favour and start looking for accommodation as soon as possible (http://countryhotels.co.za/ will help you out and keep you from missing out, you’re welcome).
But that’s not to say that you need an event to visit this beach town along the Garden Route. With walking, cycling and horse trails, there’s plenty to explore on land. And if you want to test the waters by board, boat or foot, have your pick from Robberg, Keurboom Lagoon, Nature’s Valley and Lookout Beach. Find Nelson Bay Cave and scour the sandy shores for the endemic pansy shells.
Moving up the coast we find Morgan’s Bay on the Wild Coast. Once a month you can experience local crafts and food products at the Farmers Market held at Yellowwood Forest Campsite by the Inchara River. There are also a variety of horse riding trails that take you along the beach and coastline, through rocky bays and flourishing forests, and rural villages. This way you will see more than just the expected beach views of a coastal town. The sea here is perfect for surfers and for dolphin and whale watching at Double Mouth Beach.
Near the end of South Africa’s coastline, we find the incredibly beautiful iSimangaliso Wetland Park of the Elephant Coast and the little town of St Lucia. This side of the coast has hit the environmental jackpot and offers a diversity of marine life, wildlife, birdlife and plant life. This is a nature-lovers paradise with hiking trails to explore, estuaries to cruise along, sand to laze in and sea to swim in.
It’s clear by now that there is so much more to the coast than just the coast. The combination of inland activities and beautiful beaches make them a versatile holiday destination where there is something for everyone to enjoy. South Africa is extremely unique in its range of climates, terrain and overall nature. The coast is a great way to take in some of South Africa’s best offerings in terms of nature and pure beauty.