Situated on the Atlantic Ocean is one of my favorite places in South Africa, the South African West Coast. Known for its friendly and unpretentious people, a rich diversity of flora during spring and spectacular coastal scenery. And of course the delicious wine and seafood!
Situated on the R27 highway, about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the charming town of Darling is a must see on the South African West Coast. The Darling wine route is very popular. The following cellars offer wine tastings: Darling Cellars, Ormonde, Cloof, Groote Post and Tukulu. Due to time constraints, we only visited Darling Cellars and Ormonde. Both were informal tastings and if any wine was purchased at the end of the tasting, the tasting was free! For the casual wine taster like myself, I would recommend the Chocoholic Pinotage from Darling Cellars. It has a distinct chocolate note on the nose and palate. “Chocoholic” is a well suited name!
Darling Olives is situated towards Yzerfontein amidst olive groves and vineyards. We enjoyed an informative tasting and experienced a wide variety of olives, olive oil, olive marmalade and wine.
We were a bit disappointed at the Chicory Cheese Café, expecting… well, a little bit more cheese!
For the beer connoisseurs, the Darling Brewery was a highlight with good quality craft beer and scrumptious platters and meals. Last but not least, make a stop at Darling Sweet where each and every toffee is handcrafted. Try the Orange and Pomegranate Toffee!
Taking a hot bath in Citrusdal
Citrusdal is a very small town, about 120km from Darling. Situated at the base of the Cederberg mountains in the Olifants River Valley. Its name is derived from the citrus farms in the area. The early morning aroma of citrus blossoms is refreshing.
The Baths, with its Natural Hot Water Springs of 43 ° Celsius is situated in this small town. Book self catering accommodation and stay for a relaxing day or three… My suggestion is to stay in the Outside Kloof area. We stayed in Klipkers, which offered an unspoiled 180-degree view and our own bush jacuzzi.
Seafood and Bird Island at Lamberts Bay
This small fishing town is situated, 113km from Citrusdal about 300km north of Cape Town on the South African West Coast. Honestly, although it is known for its plentiful birdlife, our main reason for visiting this small town was the famous original open air restaurant, Muisbosskerm. Food… you have to have your priorities straight, right? We were definitely not disappointed. Come bare foot if you want, as it is situated on the shore and is famous for being not “fancy” at all. It is a unique experience, with seafood and other traditional South African dishes to die for! It derives its name from the shelter being built from a bush called “Muisbos”. The delicious food is eaten with sea shells or by just digging in with your hands! Amongst other surprises, the menu consisted of different kinds of smoked, grilled and baked fish, crayfish, traditional “waterblommetjie bredie”, sweet potato, fresh homemade bread, jams, and a traditional South African dessert, “koeksisters”. The menu is served as a buffet meal and booking is essential. The weather can be cool on the shore, so bring a small blanket or a jacket to cover up with if necessary.
The other highlight of this small town is Bird Island that lies 100m off shore. It is one of only six sites in the world where the Cape gannet breed, and it offers tourists an opportunity to see these birds breed up close. Not being an avid birder, I was stunned at how spectacular the viewing of this blue-eyed bird experience was.
Crayfish in Paternoster and Tietiesbaai
Traveling along the coast, back south in the direction of Cape Town. Paternoster is 130km from Lambert’s Bay. The first time I visited Paternoster, it stole a piece of my heart. The name of this little fishing village is derived from Latin, meaning “Our Father”. It has become famous for the white washed fishermen’s houses, spectacular beaches and bright blue waters. It is described as one of the most beautiful villages in South Africa. The beach is bright, but water is cold so swimming is only for the adventurous and brave. In lobster season, well priced lobster can be bought from local fisherman calling it by the Afrikaans name of “Kreef”. Be sure to visit Oep ve Koep for seasonal country cooking with a South African flavour, Skatkis Restaurant for delicious carrot cake and Voorstrandt Restaurant for rustic seafood.
Less than 10km from Paternoster, Tietiesbaai is a beautiful, unspoiled beach in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve. It’s home to the last South African built, manually controlled lighthouse. A fun fact, this West Coast gem got its name from two large rocks that look like a pair of breasts. Thus the mention of the name “Tietiesbaai” might cause a chuckle from most South Africans. The direct translation is Boobies Bay! This area is great for camping or just a relaxed drive through. There are facilities such as running water and toilets but no electricity. The hiking trails boats some of the most spectacular views on the South African West Coast.
Langebaan and the West Coast National Park
Almost back in Cape Town, the white beaches surrounding the Langebaan Lagoon is the main attraction to Langebaan. The waters of the lagoon make Langebaan popular for fishing and sailing. Whales can be spotted during whaling season October to November. Swimming and other water activities at the stunning Calypso beach is a must as there are no currents. It is also one of the only breeding areas of the black oystercatcher, an endangered bird with a population less than 5000.
The West Coast National Park runs from the small town of Yzerfontein to the Langebaan lagoon and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean. Almost 300 species of birds are found in the West Coast National Park and is very popular during the flower season in spring. The wild flowers are spectacular when in bloom from July to October. The quality and quantity are highly depending on the rainfall in the region. It is described as one of the natural wonders of South Africa. The Strandveld is decorated with colourful wild flowers during this period and in the Postberg area many antelope roam the field. Apart from the numerous bird species, also keep an eye out for Eland, Cape Grysbok, Red Hartebeest and in the ocean whales and dolphins can be spotted.
My Trip Tips:
- Strike up conversations with West Coast locals.
- Do this trip in conjunction with a trip to Cape Town. We spent a few days in Cape Town at the end of our trip.
- Eat plenty of seafood.
- I would recommend visiting in late August to early September and if you are lucky you will see the beautiful wild flowers in bloom in the West Coast National Park. The weather will still be cool, but the flowers will be worth it.
- Make sure that when buying crayfish it is in season, otherwise it is seen as a felony.