Things to do on the West Coast of the Cape Province, South Africa
A mere 25 minutes north of Cape Town City you will find a whole new world just waiting to be explored; one with unspoiled beauty, pristine beaches, quaint fishing villages and stunning places to stay. This unique West Coast Biodiversity Corridor stretches from Blaauwberg to St Helena Bay on the R27, and inland to the R45.
West Coast Way is South Africa’s road trip with the most twists. Explore a unique collection of 101 road trip stops along themed routes by planning a self-drive trip or guided tour for a nature and adventure-filled Cape West Coast vacation. The new West Coast Way “basket” of free routes on offer include the West Coast Way Tractor Route, the West Coast Way Berg Route, the West Coast Way Foodie Route, the West Coast Way Cultural Route, the West Coast Way Wild Route – as well as the newly launched Cape Way Route – all of which are designed to showcase the many attractions and activities that are already on offer on the Cape West Coast and inland areas – but may be unknown to many.
West Coast Culture Route
1. Blaauwberg Nature Reserve
A mere 30km from Cape Town, The Blaauwberg Nature Reserve boasts spectacular views down fynbos slopes, across the cityscape and over 7km of rocky, sandy coastline to the ocean and beyond. It is one of the few viewpoints in the world from where you can see two proclaimed World Heritage Sites, namely Table Mountain and Robben Island. Also within the conservation is the site of the 1806 Battle of Blaauwberg.
Distance from Cape Town: 23.6km
Where: Cape Farms, just north of Blaauwberg on the R27 or Otto Du Plessis Drive
Coordinates: 33°46′05″S 18°27′10″E
A favourite with locals, Melkbosstrand is the archetypal seaside village and a popular water sports location. The long Main Beach is backed by green lawns that are perfect for sand-free picnics, and there are several cafés and restaurants dotted along Beach Road. Also a place of historical importance, this is where the invading British troops landed in 1806.
Distance from Cape Town: 33.2km
Coordinates: 33.7333° S, 18.4333° E
3. Koeberg Private Nature Reserve
The nature reserve offers educational information on the power station as well as two spectacular walking trails where visitors are treated to a range of fauna and flora, including grysbok, steenbok and springbok. A great way to see the reserve is on a bicycle and there are several spectacular routes to follow. There is also a bird hide where you can stop for a picnic and a spot of bird-watching. Open 7 days a week, walk or drive in and park at the Visitors Centre. Remember to bring your ID Book for registration. No entrance fees. For more information: 021 550 5314
Distance from Cape Town: 30km
Where: Off the R27, Melkbosstrand, Blaauwberg
Coordinates: 33° 37’ 47” S 18° 25’ 18” E
Silwerstroomstrand is a Blue Flag beach with excellent water quality and an expansive stretch of coastline in a wonderfully secluded setting. A small rocky point provides protection from the swell for safe swimming in the sea, and there is also a tidal pool for those wanting a warmer dip without the waves. There are also picnic and barbeque areas and a caravan park and bungalows for longer stays.
Distance from Cape Town: 46km
Where: Just off the R27
Coordinates: 33° 34’ 53”S 18° 21’ 24” E
5. Witzand Aquifer Nature Reserve (Atlantis Sand Dunes)
This unique conservation area is made up of two priority sites, the Silwerstroomstrand Conservation Area and the Atlantis Dunefields. The landscape consists of sandy beaches, rocky shorelines and outcrops, as well as vast dunes. These world-famous dunes offer spectacular views of Table Mountain and are perfect for 4X4 adventures as well as sand-boarding.
Distance from Cape Town: 48km
Where: R307, off the R27
Coordinates: 184.108.40.206 S and 220.127.116.11 E
6. Mamre Mission Station
The town of Mamre is a true hidden gem with its rich and colourful history. It is home to a remarkable Moravian Mission Station which was established in 1808, and the original church and parsonage retain their charm are now national monuments. The watermill has been restored as a museum and the church is still used for services and packed to capacity every Sunday.
Distance from Cape Town: 59km
Where: Off R27, via the R307 between Atlantis and Darling
Coordinates: 23.5292400 S and 30.0866400 E
7. Groote Post Wine Cellar
Groote Post is a historic 18th-century farm where the unique aspects and cool climatic conditions of the Darling Hills yield superlative grapes and excellent wines. Part of the famous West Coast Flower Route, they also offer spectacular nature walks as well as game drives. Excellent food is available either at Aunt Hilda’s Restaurant or as a delectable picnic to be enjoyed on the lawn.
Distance from Cape Town: 60km
Location: Darling Hills Road, off the R27
Coordinates: 18° 24′ 38” E 33° 28′ 58” S
Situated between vineyards and golden wheat fields, the quaint town of Darling has a tangible sense of history. In the heart of the West Coast Flower Region, in spring every field around the small town blooms a tapestry of flowers and the Darling Wildflower Show is held every third weekend in September. Darling is also home to renowned Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout and the quirky theatre complex, Evita se Perron.
Distance from Cape Town: 76km
Coordinates: 33.381895 S 18.376965 E
Where: Pastorie Street, Darling,
The Darling Wildflower show takes place annually over the third weekend in September (20th/21th/22th September 2019) and celebrates an integral part of the Cape Fynbos Kingdom comprising of Renosterveld, Rietveld, Sandveld, and Strandveld where more than 1200 different species of flowers can be found. The event includes entry to the Landscaped Hall (depicting the flowers of the area in their natural habitat). A Freeride on a tractor-drawn wagon to see the Oude Post Pristine wetland (that is not accessible to the public and can only be seen during the show), a Craft/Farmers Market, Veteran Tractor/Car Display, an Entertainment Tent featuring live music, a large Children’s area, safe and secure parking and many other attractions. There will also be numerous food and Beverage stalls where you can purchase a variety of food and drinks to take away or use the facilities to relax and enjoy the natural environment.
• Wildflower Show • Child-Friendly • Info • Stalls
Nestled among vineyards and olive groves Riebeek Valley includes the towns of Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel. The area is a market and festival hot spot ideal if you like to travel and shop. Kasteelberg offers some amazing hikes ideal for those who love birdlife and views from high up. Several Species of falcon, eagles and owls can be spotted. If vineyards and olive acres are your things, even that’s very unique through the lens and ever-changing.
Every year thousands of people descend on Riebeek Valley for the annual Olive Festival which is located on the Scenic Route. For the past 2 years I’ve missed it, but this year I ensured that I soaked up the delectable local olives, cheese, gourmet food and tantalizing wines this year’s festival had on offer.
9. West Coast National Park
The West Coast National Park, which stretches from Yzerfontein to Langebaan, is a pristine nature reserve which offers an array of activities such as bird watching, game sighting, biking and whale spotting. Avid birdwatchers can spot over 200 species of land and sea birds, and the game includes springbok, kudu, gemsbok and the rare mountain zebra. The popular restaurant, Geelbek, is situated near the Langebaan lagoon.
Distance from Cape Town: 87.7km
Location: Off the R27
Via Culture Route -33.244124, 18.202863
Via Foodie Route -33.117523, 18.054758
This picturesque seaside village is not only a haven for birdlife, wildlife, sea life and indigenous flora, it also boasts South Africa’s longest stretch of beach which runs for 16 miles, all the way up to the start of the West Coast National Park in the north. Popular with water sport enthusiasts, other activities include whale spotting, fishing and hiking.
Distance from Cape Town: 80km
Where: 90km north of Cape Town on the R27
Coordinates: 33.3330° S, 18.1620° E
11. !Khwa ttu San Cultural and Educational Centre
The centre offers a fascinating insight into the culture, heritage, knowledge and modern-day life of the original inhabitants of the West Coast and tours by qualified San guides demonstrate their unique skills and share their ancient knowledge. They also offer a spectacular MTB trail and accommodation and the original farmhouse is now a beautiful restaurant which is open for breakfast and lunch daily.
Open 7 days a week | Free entry
R person for an hour San Guided tour on foot or via tractor (Group bookings essential)
Distance from Cape Town: 74km
Where: Grootwater Farm, R27
Coordinates: 33°21’44.55” S 18°16’14.12” E
Contact: (c) +27 (0)22 492 2998 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.khwattu.org
Known as the Jewel of the West Coast, Langebaan enjoys almost year-round sunshine and boasts azure waters and unsurpassed natural beauty. Bordering the West Coast National Park, Langebaan is an internationally acclaimed Ramsar Site for its importance as a wetland and is host myriad bird species. The mild climate and protected waters of the lagoon also make it the perfect location for many water sports.
Situated in South Africa’s largest natural Bay, Saldanha is known for its contrasts and natural beauty. The hub of the fishing industry as well as a holiday hotspot for water sports lovers, the bay also hosts the South African Military Academy, in which can be found a pristine nature reserve which becomes a floral wonderland in spring and offers great vantage points from which to view the Southern Right Whale in the calving season.
Distance from Cape Town: 142km
Where: R27 to R399
Coordinates: 33˚ 0′ 30” S 17˚ 56′ 40” E
The beautiful, rugged and rocky coastline of Jacobsbaai boasts a sea frontage of 2km which has 7 different bays. The coastal fynbos supports a variety of wildlife which can best be seen along the 17-km hiking trail runs between Swartrietbaai and Tietiesbaai. Often referred to by locals as ‘Namaqualand by the sea’ its wildflowers are breathtakingly beautiful in spring.
Distance from Cape Town: 151km
Coordinates: 32° 58’ 8” S 17° 53’ 27” E
One of the oldest villages on the West Coast, Paternoster epitomizes the authentic and traditional West Coast lifestyle, and life here is closely connected to the sea. Fishermen still head out daily in colourful traditional wooden boats to catch fish, which can be bought at the local; market or enjoyed in the quaint restaurants. Paternoster is also popular with snorkelers, kite surfers and flyers, hikers, cyclists and kayakers.
Distance from Cape Town: 149km
Coordinates: 32° 48’ 41” S 17° 53’ 43” E
16. Shelley Point
Shelley Point is a tiny, unspoiled peninsula which lies in the calm waters of Shelley Bay. Protected from the swell, it is ideal for sailing and fishing, and also provides shallow, safe water for children to splash about in. Other than a 9-hole golf course and a Wellness Centre, there are few amenities and it truly is the place to get away from it all.
Distance from Cape Town: 203km
Coordinates: 32° 42’ 36” S 17° 58’ 20” E
17. St Helena Bay
An unspoilt coastline, stunning sea views and sparkling surf make St Helena Bay a great year-round destination. Traversing a total of 18 bays and fed by the nutrient-rich Benguela Current, St Helena Bay is one of the world’s prime fishing areas and dolphins and Southern Right Whales also enjoy the calm waters. The Cape St Martin Private Nature Reserve is the only place on the West Coast where you can watch the sunrise over the sea.
Distance from Cape Town: 149km
Coordinates: 32° 45’ 29” S 18° 1’ 40” E
Surrounded by delicate fynbos and waving green wheat in winter, Hopefield is a historic town that dates back to 1851. Attractions include the beautiful Hopefield Dutch Reformed Church built in 1879 where the original organ still plays at weddings and during the Hopefield Fynbos Show and a replica of the hominid skull Saldanha Man which can be viewed at the Fossil Museum.
Visit Hopefield’s Simply Bee Shop, Observation Centre and Farm Exhibition. The first-ever glass observation hive gives you a fascinating first-hand insight on how a bee colony lives and works to make honey. Simply Bee also produces many natural honey and fynbos products that can be bought at the shop. Open Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:00 and on Saturday’s until 13:00.
Contact: +27 (0)22 723 0569 Website: www.simplybeeswax.co.za.
Distance from Cape Town: 124km
Coordinates: 33° 3’ 56” S 18° 21’ 2” E
19. West Coast Fossil Park
Millions of years ago the West Coast landscape was dominated by riverine forests and wooded savanna and inhabited by animals that are now long extinct. Mining in the 1950s exposed one of the richest fossil deposits ever discovered and the property is now a National Heritage Site. There is an ongoing excavation of early Pliocene fossils and guided tours offer a background to the fossils and the climatic changes that have happened. There are also several mountain biking and hiking trails.
Open weekdays 09:00 – 15:00
Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays: guided tours from 10.00 to 13.00. Opening times vary according to season. (You are advised to phone or email ahead of your visit)
Closed: Christmas Day, New Year’s Day & Good Friday
Distance from Cape Town: 120km
Where: R27 to R45
Coordinates: 32° 57′ 19.4″ S 18° 6′ 49.9″ E
Contact: +27 (0)22 766 1606 | www.fossilpark.org.za | email@example.com
20. Thali Thali Game Lodge
Thali Thali is a pristine privately owned game and fynbos reserve with abundant wildlife and bird species. Home to a wide variety of antelope as well as many other species, there are no predators, so guests are free to explore on foot. Daily game drives are available as well as other activities like archery and a 3D bow hunting track. A rustic restaurant offers an excellent menu and great views.
21. Bokkomlaan in Velddfrif
Velddrif is the heart of the fishing industry on the West Coast. Many visitors go there and miss this undiscovered gem. Until now. Cross the Carinus Bridge and take a right along Voortrekker Road between St Helena Bay and Aurora. Stop at the view site beneath tall palm trees and watch ample waders in the waterway. Continue a little further and take a right into Bokkomlaan. Time seems to stands still as fishing boats bob in the wake next to numerous jetties. Fishermen can be seen preparing fish for sale as they did in the fishing heyday. Bokkomlaan is the first road to have been built in Velddrif. It was granted heritage status one year ago.
Thank you to West Coast Ways for this article.
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