Plettenberg Bay: Sun, sand and surf
April 14, 2017
by Mariza Lange
Plettenberg Bay, or more commonly known as just Plett to locals and South Africans alike, is a beautiful small seaside town set along the Western Cape coastline. It forms part of South Africa’s renowned Garden Route and serves as a popular holiday destination for South Africans, as well as international guests. Every year, thousands of visitors flock here to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. Apart from the amazing surf, magnificent scenery and stunning beaches, the town also offers visitors an array of attractions catering to the needs of both young and old.
The area is committed to the protection and conservation of their marine life. Which is why, it offers a safe breeding ground to the Cape Fur Seals whilst whale enthusiasts can enjoy whale sightings from May to November. During the whale migration season, whales come near the coast and numerous lookout points are scattered around the town to enjoy watching these beasts of the water. Dolphins can also be spotted year round in these waters.
Wine and Dine
Wine, one of South Africa’s biggest exports, is produced in the Western Cape. Which means, numerous wine estates are easily accessed from here. Also, enjoy the local cuisine, especially freshly caught seafood at top notch restaurants scattered about town. Be sure to add The Grand, The Table, The Lookout Deck, Lemon Grass Seaside Restaurant and Flashbacks Bar to your eatery list.
On the outskirts of Plett, you will find a number of wildlife sanctuaries. These sanctuaries are proof of how the area is aimed at protecting South Africa’s animal species. If you do decide to visit any of the sanctuaries, remember to check individual websites for rates and operating hours as these vary between seasons. Some noteworthy sanctuaries to check out are:
Home to 550 primates, Monkeyland offers visitors a chance to see an array of monkeys, gibbons and lemurs in a natural setting as they roam freely in an indigenous forest.
Birds of Eden
With over 3500 birds, Birds of Eden offers visitors the oppurtunity to experience an array of bird species in a free-flight aviary.
Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary
Jukani is home to a number of rescued predators such as big cats and other wildlife. The sanctuary is strongly committed to conservation and conservation education.
Garden Route Wolf Sanctuary
The Garden Route Wolf Sanctuary serves as an awareness centre and sanctuary. Follow a guided or self-guided tour to learn more about these wolves.
This sanctuary, offers guests an interactive and educational tour. Here you will be able to walk with the elephants, touch them or even take an elephant ride.
There are three popular beaches in Plettenberg Bay, most popular in my opinion being Lookout Beach. Rainbow colored umbrellas line the beach as visitors soak up the sun, paddle in the water or surf in the breaks. If you do decide to spend some beach time here, be sure to enjoy a sundowner at the Lookout Deck. It’s a great place to listen to the waves and perhaps even spot a whale or two during the whale migration season.
The other beaches are Central Beach and Robberg. Both beaches are easily accessed from the Beacon Isle Hotel. Central Beach can be pretty crowded during peak season as this is where most beach parties and activities are held. If you are looking for something more quiet, head to Robberg Beach.
There are plenty of outdoor activities in and around Plett; enjoy a game of golf, go quad biking, paint-balling, canoeing or follow a hiking trail at one of the many nature reserves or national parks.
Robberg Nature Reserve
This World Heritage Site is situated 8kms south of Plett and offers hikers, outdoor lovers and adventurers some great trials. With magnificent ocean views, white falling dunes, caves along the peninsula and a wide variety of fauna and flora, its hard not to come to the Robberg Nature Reserve. Spot dolphins, whales, seals and the rare blue duiker on your hike. The reserve is also home to the Cape Seal Lighthouse, which was built 1950. At 146m above sea level, it is the highest navigational light on the South African coastline.
The reserve offers three different trail options to hikers, ranging in length and difficulty.
- The Gap (2,1km) – The shortest and easiest route taking you to a break in the plateau.
- Witsand (5.5km) – A moderate hike, guiding you from the northern ridge to a large falling dune and The Island.
- The Point (9,2km) – The longest and most difficult trail taking you to the tip of the peninsula and the Cape Seal Lighthouse.
On our trip to Robberg, we chose the Witsand hike. The changing scenery was breathtaking, but as we wore flip flops, the hike itself was exhausting and somewhat scary. If you do choose to take one of the longer routes, be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
What to bring
- Comfortable shoes, ideally hiking boots or trainers
- A swimsuit and beach towel
- Sunscreen, sunglasses and a sunhat
- Water and snacks
A small conservation fee is charged on entry to the reserve and costs ZAR40 for adults and ZAR20 for kids. The fee is vital to the conservation and protection of the reserve and truly a small price to pay to experience this beauty.
When to visit
During peak season (December- January), Plett turns into a hustling and bustling little town. The streets are filled with surfers making their way to the beach whilst the beaches are packed to the brim. Beach parties and other fun activities are also held regularly on Central Beach.
If you do however want to avoid the crowds, the best time to visit would be during off peak season, or at least, just after the school holidays. As the crowds fade, the town turns back into a sleepy little haven and makes for the perfect escape. It’s the perfect time to wonder peacefully in the streets, feast in good company and easily find a parking-bay. Better yet, you will have the beach all to yourself with the exception of the occasional jogger and his best friend, Spot.
Plettenberg Bay is most easily reached by air. The town itself does have an airport, but it is quite costly to fly here. If you are flying from within SA, the nearest affordable airport is in George, only 102kms away. From there, many car rental companies are available. Alternatively, rent a car in one of the major cities in South Africa and drive down. The views in this part of South Africa are breathtaking and what better way to enjoy them than with a road trip!
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