Wild Wonders: Exploring South Africa’s West Coast

Just north of tourist-infested Cape Town are the wide-open spaces of South Africa’s West Coast — a region renowned for its seasonal blooms, freshly caught seafood, and quaint seaside towns. Stretching from Blouberg to Namaqualand along highway N7, the region is made for road trips. So escape the city, pull into the slow lane, and find out here where to eat, sleep, and play in this epic stretch of South Africa.

west coast flowers

Morne/Wikimedia Commons

When To Go 

Even though the West Coast is beautiful all year round, the best time to do a road trip up the West Coast is in spring, from September through November. Not only is the weather warmer, but the entire coastline is blooming with multicoloured flowers, the air is crisp and fresh, and the small towns are uncrowded.

During winter (June to August) the West Coast turns into a romantic seaside haven. Even though it may rain, a road trip is not completely off the cards as the winter sunshine is perfect for walks on the beach, and restaurants serve hearty, traditional South African dishes.

During the warm summer months (from December to February), the small towns of the West Coast fill up with vacation-makers. So it may be busier and harder to book a room, but the white, sandy beaches and refreshing Atlantic Ocean make summer a fun time to visit.

Where To Stay

You’ll find some of the most luxurious, cozy and exclusive accommodation along the West Coast, particularly in the stretch between Langebaan and Paternoster. Perfect for a night or two, or as a home base while you explore the region, these accommodation options are equipped with all the comforts you’ll need after a long day in the car.

Abalone House, Paternoster: Whether you choose an African-inspired spa treatment from Healing Earth Spa, a dip in the rooftop jacuzzi, or a meal at renowned Reuben’s Restaurant, (helmed by acclaimed South African Chef Reuben Riffel), Abalone House knows exactly how to spoil guests. Rooms have ocean views and include king size beds, underfloor heating, fully stocked bars, and flat screen TVs.

grootvlei guest farm in lambert's bay, west coast

Photo courtesy of Grootvlei Guest Farm

Kraalbaai Houseboats, West Coast National Park: Spend a night or two on a permanently moored Kraalbaai Houseboat on the tranquil, crystal clear waters of the Langebaan Lagoon. Accommodating four to 22 people, the houseboats have fully-equipped kitchens, BBQ facilities, dining areas, and bedrooms with both bunk beds and queen size beds. Even though the houseboats are self-catering, they are the perfect place to unwind during the summer months.

Grootvlei Guest Farm in Lambert’s Bay: With seven elegantly decorated bedrooms in a spacious double-story homestead, Grootvlei Guest Farm will become your home away from home. Surrounded by natural gardens and plenty of birdlife, it is the ideal place to escape to. Each room has luxurious bed linens, an en suite bathroom, satellite TV and a coffee/tea station making it perfect for an overnight stay. There are also various lounge areas with fireplaces and outside patios which you can retreat to when you need some alone time.

Riebeek Valley Hotel: Situated in the middle of verdant vineyards, olive groves and the Kasteelberg Mountains, the four star Riebeek Valley Hotel will seduce you with its old-world charm, peaceful setting and modern amenities. If you love wine, you’ll be able to visit several award-winning wine estates nearby. All rooms have luxurious bed linens, en suite bathrooms, satellite TV and coffee/tea stations.

What To Do & See

Once you’ve decided where you’ll be spending a night or two, you can plan your activities. And the West Coast has plenty to do and see. Here is a just a small sampling of what’s on offer.

West Coast Nature Reserve: The first stop on your road trip should be the West Coast Nature Reserve. During flower season the reserve brightens up with thousands of daisies, and in winter you can spot a variety of wildlife including buck, ostrich, and baboons. In summer you can take a dip in Langebaan Lagoon or do some seaside boulder hopping.

Hello, DarlingAs the name suggests, Darling is an adorable farming town. In October, the town comes alive during the Wildflower Show and the Rocking The Daisies music festival. Another must-see is in this town is the Evita se Perron theatre restaurant, which is located at the old railway station and was created by famous satirist, comedian and playwright Pieter-Dirk Uys.

Evita se Perron in Darling, West Coast

Photo courtesy of Evita se Perron

West Coast Wine: The Western Cape province is known for world class wines, and the West Coast definitely has its fair share of vineyards that produce delicious wines. You can spend a day heading from estate to estate on the Olifants River Valley Wine Route, the Darling Wine & Arts Experience and the Santam Swartland Wine & Olive Route.

Delicious Dining: Besides enjoying fine dining at Reuben’s Restaurant in Paternoster and a theatrical dinner at Evita se Perron in Darling, you should definitely head to Die Strandloper Seafood Restaurant. Located in a beach shack in Langebaan, this restaurant serves everything from mussels to crayfish that is cooked an open fire right before eyes.

Learn To Windsurf: If you love windsurfing or want to learn how to, then make sure to stop in Langebaan. With the perfect conditions for learning, you can head to Cape Sport Centre to get lessons or hire gear.

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