Exploring the Southern Cape
Only two hours from Cape Town, the roads running south leads to the picturesque Southern Cape coast and quaint neighbouring towns such as Bredasdorp and Napier. Transformed from traditional subsistence villages to popular coastal holiday destinations, towns such as Arniston, Struisbaai and Cape Agulhas offer tourists, free-spirited travellers and water sports lovers a range of scenic tourist attractions, holiday activities and accommodation. And in true Southern Cape style, the accommodation and hospitality will let even a first-time visitor feel at home.
Driving through Overberg towns such as Caledon and Napier towards Bredasdorp, one feels compelled to take off your watch and slow down to the 40km/h speed limit on the main roads of most Southern Cape and Overberg towns, where old-school general dealers and cafes still dominate the urban scenery. Almost-regular rolling hills and koppies gradually flatten out into pre-coastal plains. Then you approach the windswept coastal stretches that have inspired many a poet, boatman and soul seeking respite from the hustle and bustle of inland towns and cities.
The towns, smells and sounds of the Southern Cape remain ever unchanging. Everything from the accommodation to the tolling of the town church bells stay the same, year after year. Even Caledon still has the same yeasty brewery smell it has had for more than a decade! And the same goes for the ebb and flow cycles of the Southern Cape’s Atlantic waters. Always there, always waiting to be explored…
Southern Cape coastal towns such as Arniston (also known as Waenhuiskrans), Struisbaai and Cape Agulhas are steeped in a tradition of subsistence-turned-commercial fishing, yet have all evolved into coastal holiday destinations rich in colour, character and rich stories.
Ask of any of the local Arniston fishing folk and they will tell you hours worth of tall tales about this place, about its infamous reputation as a cemetery for ships. In Kassiesbaai, a local “heritage site” in Arniston, curious little people come running at the sight of a camera, while weather beaten old faces appear fleetingly in brightly painted cottage doorframes.
The lighthouse at Cape Agulhas (also referred to as L’Agulhas) is one of the Southern Cape coast’s visual landmarks. On misty nights, its 12 million candle power beam preens the darkness, warning boats of the lurking threat of jagged volcanic rock lining the shore. Despite this beacon near the southernmost tip of Africa, many a ship has come upon grief on the Southern Cape coast. Scattered wrecks in various stages of disintegration bear silent warning against the might of the sea. These make for awesome scuba diving sitesand fascinating photographic opportunities at low tide.
The best and only way to discover the Southern Cape coastline is to get down to the water’s edge at low tide, lose the shoes and poke around at leisure! As for the Cape Agulhas lighthouse: the view from the top is panoramic, but be prepared to get your hair ruffled by the winds up there! The Agulhas lighthouse, a national monument, is open daily between 09:30 and 16:30 and definitely worth a visit.
The jetty at Waenhuiskrans (Arniston), situated opposite the Arniston Hotel, offers tourists, boating and water sports enthusiasts the ideal holiday venue. All sorts of vessels can be launched from the Jetty, with the bathing area affording families ample space to splash out.
Southern Cape Holiday Accommodation
In terms of holiday accommodation, the towns of Arniston, Agulhas and Struisbaai offer a plethora of self-catering, hotel and B&B accommodation options to suit any holiday budget. Whether you are looking for large holiday houses, cottages or luxury accommodation, you will find what you’re after in one of these three Southern Cape coastal towns. Alternatively, if the beach is not your thing, you can enquire about accommodation in Bredasdorp, situated approximately 25km away from Waenhuiskrans and about 30km from Agulhas and Struisbaai.
In most Southern Cape towns, campsites are abound. Book a campsite in the Southern Cape.
Waenhuiskrans, Struisbaai, Agulhas and Bredasdorp all have a span of restaurants and eateries varying from fish and chips joints to classy traditional restaurants and middle of the range eateries.
The Southern Cape coast makes for excellent whale watching between the months of June to December. The Agulhas National Park is well known for its whale watching potential, so make your way down there during whale season to see the biggest mammals in the world!
Southern Cape holiday activities
Southern Cape holiday activities include water sports, scuba diving, boat trips, coastal and deep-sea fishing, site-seeing, bird watching and dozens more… Boat charter companies can take you to Southern Cape fishing spots such as Vlak Bank, Blou Gansie, Saxon and the famous Twelve Mile Bank.
One not-to-be-missed diamond in the rough is Willie’s Bush Pub in the vicinity of the Overberg Test Range, just outside Arniston. This rustic bush pub features an outside lapa, dancing area as well as a small restaurant absolutely riddled with historical artefacts. Nolsie, the resident crow, hops from barstool to barstool. Against the ceiling, hundreds of caps and ties bear witness to the fabulous time that have been had at this charismatic establishment. Willie’s Bush Pub serves great traditional South African cuisine such as braaivleis, potjiekos and spitbraais and is ideal for receptions, parties and corporate functions.