South Africa’s West Coast was rediscovered in recent years.  Coastal resorts are developing into quaint seaside towns as more people begin to appreciate the charm of the region.

The water sports enthusiast can choose angling, diving, surfing, sailing, kite-boarding, windsurfing and swimming.  Other activities include hiking and horse-riding, not to mention the exceptional and bountiful seafood and distinctive wines and fruits of the region.  Crayfish, mussels and wonderful fresh fish are the order of the day.

The Western Cape and the nearby Northern Cape and Namaqualand are known for their beautiful flowers, with the best flower season in spring – August and September.

Long, sunny summer days on white beaches or in the mountains and the green veld and mostly clear, windless winter days are proof of the region’s Mediterranean climate.

The people of the West Coast are known for their hospitality, warmth, great food and endless stories.

The coastline

An almost undiscovered treasure trove of rugged unspoilt beaches, rich geographical diversity and an astounding carpet of wild flowers in spring form the backdrop of a major holiday route out of Cape Town along Route 27.

A series of beautiful historic towns and fishing villages is strung all along the coastline.  With names like Lambert’s Bay, St Helena Bay, Paternoster, Saldanha Bay and Langebaan, each town has something unique to offer the visitor.

Regions

The Cape West Coast is divided into six regions.

Swartland

This is the gateway to the West Coast and the most southerly of the regions, with Malmesbury a mere 64 km from Cape Town.  It is well-known for the green and gold corn fields. The Swartland is also the oldest wheat growing area in South Africa.

Peninsula

The West Coast Peninsula is an area celebrated for its unspoilt wild beauty and hospitable people. It is known for its soulful people and unpretentious way of life. Each season is distinct with unique offerings and special attractions. Yet the overriding allure of the region is its majestic windswept landscapes and a coastline that is ever-changing, moody and magical.

Jacobsbaai

A rugged, rocky coastline with small, sandy bays tucked in-between make the landscape of Jacobsbaai both picturesque and unique. This hamlet is just 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town, between Saldanha and Paternoster.

Langebaan

For more information about Langebaan, visit Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langebaan

The picturesque town of Langebaan, built on the banks of a turquoise lagoon, lies only 100km from Cape Town.  The saltwater lagoon, part of the West Coast National Park, is nourished by the sea and home to hundreds of resident and migratory bird species on annual visits from around the globe.  The area is also home to the world’s largest breeding colony of black harriers.

The town is a haven for water sports and adventure sport lovers and is a world renowned kite surfing hot spot too.

Langebaan is also home to Club Mykonos, a Greek-style resort with entertainment for young and old. The sunsets are breath-taking, especially from the luxurious vantage point of a sunset cruise.

The area is a popular destination during the spectacular wild flower season each spring.

Paternoster

The past and the present meet in Paternoster, the oldest fishing village on the West Coast.

Life in Paternoster is closely connected to the sea, with fishermen heading out in colourful, small wooden boats (bakkies) to catch harders in winter and crayfish in summer. Visitors can buy fish fresh, including Geelbek, Harder and Hottentot off the boats as they come in to shore.

Paternoster means ‘Our Father’, taking its name from the heartfelt prayers of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors. The Columbine Nature Reserve with the well-known Tietiesbaai lies just south of the town. Here you can see South Africa’s last manned lighthouse, built in 1936.

In August and September the spring flowers make their appearance, changing the whole landscape into a breathtaking carpet of flowers.

Do not leave Paternoster without having tasted salty bokkoms (dried harder), sun dried snoek biltong or the variety of pickled mussels and roll mops.

Paternoster offers many activities such as sea kayaking, whale, dolphin, seal and penguin watching, walks along the beaches or among the boulders, or simply admiring the work of local potters and painters.

Saldanha

Saldanha, South Africa’s largest natural harbour, is situated approximately 140km from Cape Town.

It was built upon one of the largest natural bays on the African coast, but development only truly got underway once a pipeline providing fresh water from the Berg River was laid to the town.

Saldanha is a hotspot for water sports lovers and is popular for regattas and sailors to test their skills.  The Saldanha Yacht Club hosts several annual regattas.

The harbour is renowned for its ability to handle among other commodities, the shipping of iron ore for which a dedicated railway line was built to transport iron ore from Sishen in the Northern Cape.

Saldanha is home to major industries, including companies like Namakwa Sands and Sea Harvest.

It is widely known for its naval training base and the South African Military Academy.

The SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve is a ‘must see’ during late winter and early spring for the beautiful spring flowers and Southern Right Whales that visit the bay. Don’t miss the Hoedjieskop Reserve, a hill in the middle of the town offering magnificent photo opportunities with 360 degree views of the town and the ocean.

St. Helena Bay

With its 18 bays and breath-taking sea views, St Helena Bay is a lively fishing village with abundant sea life.

When Vasco da Gama discovered the bay in 1497, he claimed it to be one of the calmest bays on earth – and then named it after St Helena, the mother of Roman emperor Constantine the Great.

Often when there’s a ‘snoek run’, fishing boats from as far as Cape Town line up for their share of the ocean’s bounty. Upon their return, fish is sold straight off the boats.

St Helena Bay is home to several large fish processing plants, some of which export their products all over the world.

The town is a popular tourist destination during the spring wild flower season when the Southern Right Whales come into the bay to calve. Dolphins are spotted all year round.

Vredenburg

In the heart of the region, Vredenburg offers all the necessary amenities to holiday makers and those wanting to shop or dine out.  Vredenburg was established around a spring of fresh drinking water. It was named Twisfontein (‘Quarrel Spring’) and later Prosesfontein (‘Lawsuit Spring’) because the rights to it caused so many disputes between two neighbouring farmers. Water is a scarce commodity on the West Coast, so water rights were highly coveted.

Hopefield

Hopefield, a little inland, is renowned for its prolific fynbos and spectacular wild flowers, along with never ending fields of wheat in winter. From Hopefield you can see distant, uninterrupted horizons in every direction. It is just 120km from Cape Town and lies at the heart of the arid Sandveld, with the Zoute River running through it.

Yzerfontein

Yzerfontein lies just 85km from Cape Town.  Beautiful holiday homes line the coastline of this seaside town, where whales visit the bay in spring to calve. There are several interesting arts and crafts shops, restaurants and farm stalls. Outdoor adventure activities abound with water sports, 4×4 trails, game drives, hiking trails, bird routes and sport facilities available.

Bergrivier

The Bergrivier region starts in the mountains of Stellenbosch and eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean at Velddrif.

Cederberg

The region offers a rich natural heritage, fruit-filled valleys and towering mountains.

Rooibos tea, a popular South African herbal tea, which is free of tannin and high in Vitamin C, is exclusively grown in the Cederberg.

Proteaceae, such as, the sugarbush, cone bush, pincushion, spiderhead and endemic snow protea all adorn this lanscape. The leopard, black eagle, rock kestrel and jackal buzzard all call this mountain wilderness home, too.

Matzikama

The Matzikama region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west and includes the Sandveld, the Knersvlakte and the Matzikama Mountain range.

Hardeveld

The Hardeveld lies between the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Bokkeveld plateau in the east.