You deserve a break. It’s been a long year. And nothing says “holiday” quite like a sea-breeze and the feeling of sand between your toes. Whether it’s a quaint seaside village, a local gem, or somewhere with Happy Hour and a view, there isn’t much you can’t find along South Africa’s extraordinary coastline. Each one of the coastal towns in South Africa has its own special flavour, and we have chosen ten of the best to get you started.
1. Pringle bay
About an hour outside of Cape Town, Pringle Bay sits quiet and unassuming, surrounded by mountains on three of its sides. If the wind picks up, have a coffee and amble around the craft shops and galleries in the town centre. Or even better, visit South Africa’s first UNESCO registered Biosphere Reserve, Kogelberg, to get your nature kicks.
2. Coffee Bay
The hills that roll away from Coffee Bay and into the warm Indian Ocean will teach you something new about the colour green. Surf, hike, and share a beer with travellers from all around the world. It’s not known as one of the most popular backpacking destinations for nothing.
Known for its hospitality and warm weather, Wilderness is perfect if you’re looking for something low-key and reliable along the Garden Route. Nothing makes enough noise to be heard over the sound of the sea, which makes it a great place to recharge. Take a walk along the abandoned tracks of the Outeniqua Choo Tjoe, or keep the couch company with a good book.
4. Port St. Johns
Port St. Johns isn’t interested in being tamed. Rustic and authentic, its history is surprising and its fishing is top notch. Take a walk along one of the unspoiled beaches or trek through an overgrown forest. Catch up on some deep breaths and much needed sleep.
Zinkwazi lies low just past Kwazulu Natal’s more popular spots. Foot-traffic is sparse, which leaves the estuary quiet enough for the birds to stay happy. Get out your binoculars and see if you can spy the town’s name-sake, which is the Zulu word for Fish Eagle.
6. St Francis Bay
St Francis Bay is built on the banks of interlinking canals, and having the water so close by is a definite perk. You can sit on the deck with a glass of wine and watch the neighbours SUP past, or fish right off your front garden lawn. This small town knows how good it feels to be on holiday, and it makes sure you don’t have to lift a finger by bringing the sea to you.
7. Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay doesn’t let the sea air dampen its mood. Bustling and energetic, it offers all the great qualities of a coastal town and adds a beat. Spend the day playing beach volley-ball and end it right with a cocktail, or five. You’re on holiday – you can always sleep in.
8. Nature’s Valley
Nature’s Valley is the only town in South Africa that’s situated within a national park, and that’s reason enough to visit. Being the endpoint of the famous Otter Trail, it attracts all kinds of nature lovers. If history’s your thing, it’s also home to the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, which is the last manned lighthouse in South Africa.
Looking for a postcard perfect getaway? Paternoster’s your place. The white-washed fishermen’s cottages and rocky coastline will spice up your Instagram enough to make all your friends jealous. Oh, and take that seafood recipe you’ve been waiting to try; they take their fishing seriously.
Despite being best known for the whales that visit every year, Hermanus has a lot more to offer. If you’re feeling daring, shark-cage diving is only a few minutes’ drive away. If you’re not, go wine-tasting in the Hemel en Aarde valley. No matter your choice, there is good food to be had and you won’t be short of a view.