West Coast of South Africa
West Coast of South Africa offers some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world such as, mountains, oceans...
The West Coast offers some of the greatest small town experiences in South Africa. This is a region that is best savored, slowly, and therefore road trips along the West Coast are a firm a favourite with locals and international visitors. The area offers some of the most beautiful sceneries in the world such as, mountains, oceans and views of the beautiful surrounding areas.
The West Coast National Park (close to Langebaan) is where 50 000 migratory birds can be seen in the summer, and at the Bird Island in Lamberts Bay, an unobtrusive viewing platform allows close-ups of a jam-packed breeding site.
The national park also contains 40% of the earth’s remaining strandveld fynbos, and the West Coast largely blooms in the spring months of August to October. Endemic Clanwilliam cedar and Snowball Protea can be sighted in the Cederberg Wilderness Area, which also claims unusual rock formations and well-known hiking trails.
The West Coast has two official wine routes, the Swartland Wine Route and the Olifants River Wine Region. West Coast seas also produces a bounty of quality seafood and line fish to accompany the fruit of the vine. Some of the country’s finest restaurants are found along this coastline.
South Africa's West Coast, home to one of the largest mainland seal colonies in the world, is only one reason why travelers should come for a getaway. The other reasons are found in the towns along the West Coast. Diving and sailing will keep you at sea, while the area's wines, fruits and seafood will bring you back to shore.
The coastal regions of the south-western Cape were densely occupied by pastoralists, or herders, known as the Khoikhoi. The West Coast region was the land of the CochoQua, which included Saldanha Bay to Vredenburg. The ChariGuriQua or GuriQua occupied the lower Berg River area, St Helena Bay and points around Piketberg.
Archaeological sites on the West Coast, like Kasteelberg, show occupation by herders between 1800 and 1600 years ago. Places where whales often strand themselves along the shore are known as 'cetacean traps', which are areas where minima in the earth's magnetic field cross the shoreline, and where there are offshore reefs. St Helena Bay, or more specifically, Slipper Bay appears to be one of these 'cetacean traps', approximately 12km from Kasteelberg. It is well recorded that whale meat was used by the Khoikhoi.
The GuriQua and the SonQua (Bushmen) are forgotten in the history of the West Coast. They were here to witness the arrival and departure of Vasco da Gama. He stayed a mere 8 days in St Helena Bay and is revered as one of the greatest navigators and explorers. The history of the Khoikhoi and the SonQua after 1652 is well documented and it would be impossible to summarise it in this short review, except to mention the 1713 small-pox epidemic, which was one of the main causes for the virtual disappearance of the Khoikhoi from the south-western Cape.
The remnants of the ChariGuriQua of the West Coast followed Adam Kok, the founder of the Bastaard (later Griqua) group. The Bastaards or Baster group were descendants of mixed unions between European settler farmers and Khoikhoi women. After the 1950's many descendants of the Khoikhoi were classified as "Coloured". There are no written records by the indigenous peoples for the pre-colonial period. Anthropological and archaeological research are the only tools we can use to give us a picture of a people and culture lost in time. The only other sources of information we have are ships journals and the diaries of visitors written from 1488 to 1652.
Best Time to Visit West Coast of South Africa
August and September
West Coast of South Africa Attractions
Britannia Bay, Darling, Vredenburg, Jacobsbaai, Lamberts Bay, Langebaan, Paternoster, Saldanha, Shelley Point, St Helena Bay, Strandfontein, Vredendal, Yzerfontein, West Coast National Park, Darling Wine Route, West Coast Fossil Park, Verlorenvlei, Langebaan Golf Course, Bird Island Nature Reserve, Rocherpan Nature Reserve
West Coast of South Africa Attraction Details
Britannia Bay: Britannia Bay is 160 km from Cape Town, an easy 90 minute drive up the Cape West Coast. Britannia Bay is located 35 km from Vredenburg (the main commercial centre of the region) and 45 km from Saldanha Bay. Britannia Bay offers acres of unspoilt, safe beaches. The bay is very protected and the water is slightly warmer than most places on the West Coast, due to the Benguela current not entering the bay.
Darling: The charming little village of Darling lies between vineyards and golden wheat fields only 75km from Cape Town along the West Coast road and 25km from the beach at Yzerfontein. Traditionally known for its spectacular wildflowers, Darling has much more to offer visitors ... Darling has become the home of well-known South African satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys's theatre, Evita se Perron, a cabaret venue and restaurant in Darling, named after his alter-ego, Evita Bezuidenhout.
Vredenburg: Just 130 kilometres north of Cape Town lies Vredenburg, regarded as something of a business hub for the West Coast, and a springboard to the coastal towns of St Helena Bay, Langebaan, Paternoster and Saldanha Bay, to which it is closest. Interesting is its history, for despite its name, which means ‘peace’, the town originated at the time of a water feud that ensued over a spring serving as the boundary line for the neighbouring 18th century farms of Heuningklip and Witteklip.
Jacobsbaai: Jacobsbaai, situated midway between Vredenburg and Saldanha Bay, is an isolated, traditional Cape West Coast Village. Strict building restrictions in the town have preserved the breathtaking 2 kilometers of coastline, boasting 7 individual bays and lime washed houses against an azure blue sea. Most of the roads are gravel roads which keeps traffic at snails pace which has resulted in a peaceful little resort town, ideal for a weekend getaway or relaxing holiday.
Lamberts Bay: The unpretentious, picturesque seaside village of Lambert’s Bay lies right up the West Coast, not far from Clanwilliam and only 2.5 hours’ drive from Cape Town. This part of the coast is quite simply beautiful, with wide expanses of white sand under blazing blue skies and endless opportunity to experience seafood in the heart of crayfish country.
Langebaan: The popular town of Langebaan is just over 100 km from Cape Town on the West Coast off the R27 next to Langebaan Lagoon. The white Caribbean like beaches surrounding the crystal clear waters of the Langebaan Lagoon are one of the main attractions of Langebaan. Langebaan has a modern Country Club and offers numerous excellent holiday facilities for the water sport enthusiasts who favour a weekend visit or holiday in Langebaan to enjoy the host of water sport and fishing opportunities this vibrant holiday resort town offers.
Paternoster: Paternoster, meaning "Our Father" derives its name from the prayers of ship-wrecked Portuguese sailors. Paternoster is a small, quaint and picturesque fishing village about 145km (90 minutes drive) from Cape Town and 15km north west of Vredenburg. A favourite weekend getaway destination for Capetonians, Paternoster is one of the oldest towns along the West Coast and is famous for its abundance of crayfish.
Saldanha: Saldanha is a seaside village that lies in the northern most corner of Saldanha bay - the largest and deepest natural bay in the country. About 110 km up the Cape West Coast from Cape Town, the picturesque harbour town of Saldanha is essentially motivated by export and the fishing industry, and crayfish, fish, mussels, oysters and seaweed drive the economy.
Shelley Point: On the West Coast of the Western Cape lies Shelley Point, about 150 kilometres north of Cape Town, p