29.03.2017

Plettenberg Bay – My South Africa, My Home

I get to brag once again about in what a beautiful town I live in. Plettenberg Bay, known as the “Jewel of the Garden Route,” is any tourist’s dream and photographer’s paradise.

If you are travelling to South Africa, I am sure that the Garden Route would be on your bucket list. I have compiled a list of my favourite Plett activities / „Things to do in Plett“ especially for you!

Walk along the beautiful boardwalks in Robberg Nature Reserve.

Robberg Nature Reserve

I don’t have enough words to describe the beauty of Robberg Nature Reserve. Not only is it a reserve, but also a National Monument and World Heritage Site. The rocks from this region date back approximately 120 million years ago and evidence of middle and later Stone Age Inhabitations have been found along the caves. Depending on how much time you have available and / or your fitness level, you could do the full circular, 10km hike.

Don’t underestimate this hike, though; it is very strenuous and I would advise that you bring proper hiking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, snacks and lots of water.

If you are pressed for time, I would highly recommend taking a walk to The Island. It’s a breeding colony for seagulls and approximately a 30-minute hike from the parking lot. Walk along the boardwalks while watching the sea crash just a couple of meters below you.

Things you may see during your Robberg visit include dolphin and whale sightings (during the winter months), a variety of bird species, hundreds of seals and if you really lucky the rare blue duiker (Western Cape’s smallest antelope).

Entry fee to the Reserve is R40 per adult and R20 per child, but if you are planning on investing in a Wild Card, it’s for free!

The Island in Robberg Nature Reserve during sunrise.
Organically grown veggies at Bocca Dolce.

Bocca Dolce – Vegan Restaurant

I only recently discovered this little gem of a restaurant on the outskirts of Plettenberg Bay. Bocca Dolce is a vegan restaurant and coffee shop.Their main focus is on organic and vegan dishes. They also roast and sell their own coffee and their cappuccinos with almond milk is too delicious for words! Half way through the first one you may as well order you next cuppa!

Bocca Dolce are open for breakfast and lunch during the week.On the weekend they offer their popular „Harvest Table“ buffet. All their food is organic, grown on the estate and contains not animal product. The spread they serve is unbelievable!

Bocca Dolce Website

Vegan milk tarts form part of the „Harvest Table“ that is available on weekends.
Loadstone’s Brut Rosé, named “Stonechat“

Wine Farms (Bramon, Newstead, Redford Lane, Kay & Monty and Lodestone)

Wine farms on the Garden Route would have been laughed at20 – 30 years ago. But no longer. Plettenberg Bay boasts some of the best boutique wine farms around.

Bramon Wine Estate – The pioneers of bringing wine to the area and probably the most popular of all the vineyards. And to be fair, Bramon probably paved the way for the other wine farms to grow and flourish in the region.

Book (yes, because if you don’t book, you won’t get a table!) a table in the vineyards, order some of their popular Sauvignon Blanc and delight yourself in their amazing tapas off their menu. I highly recommend their „homemade“ bread, avo and parmesan salad, hummus, chicken and camembert wheel (mouthwatering!).

Newstead Wine Farm–The Lund’s family motto is (and very aptly so!) „Honesty, surprise, delight – that’s what we want from our wines, and from life.“ The tasting room is intimate and rustic and the restaurant is governed by the season. All ingredients are locally sourced (some of it will come of their own herb and veggie garden). Once again, tapas-style food can be expected here, although they are also well known for their wood fire pizzas. Of course, there is wine and they have an awesome gin bar (did someone say cocktails?!).

Redford Lane Wines – Very new to the game of wine farming, but don’t let that bother you too much. Best known for their easy-drinking white wine. They also have a farm-styled tasting room and restaurant, serving their famous „Farmhouse Ploughman’s Platters“. Once again, their ingredients are either „homegrown“ or locally sourced.

Kay & Monty – A different feel to all the other wine farms, with an open setting lending itself to a farm yard atmosphere and in doing so, avoiding the chaos and close quarters and creating a lovely, flowing feel with nature. They are one of the few restaurants to offer a kiddies meal option and the menu is more varied. Again, white wine is the choice; do yourself a favour and try their Sauvignon Blanc.

Lodestone – The „baby“ of The Crags Wines. Like all the other wine farms, Lodestone is beautifully situated with views overlooking their dam and onto the mountains. My first introduction to Lodestone was at the 2016 Wine & Bubbly Festival and I tasted their Brut Rosé, named Stonechat (named after a small bird that can be found in area). I recently visited their tasting room and if you are an olive addict like myself, you must try their olives, grown on the farm. Sadly, these aren’t commercially sold. Lodestone also grows their own Honey Bush which is served as a tea.

These Boutique Wine Farms are also Wedding Venues (if you’re looking for one).

The sun sets over the wine farms in Plettenberg Bay, creating the perfect romantic scene for a wedding.
One of Jukani’s most well-known and handsome residents, Grompie.

Monkeyland, Birds of Eden & Jukani

Monkeyland – Monkeyland is the world ’s first free roaming primate sanctuary and it is situated right on my door step. Walking (with a guide) through what feels like the jungle, you quickly start seeing a variety of monkeys. Especially lemurs and capuchins, and if you lucky enough, you will Atlas the Gibbon swinging from one tree to another.

These monkeys have all being rescued from cruel pasts and given a second change. No petting!

Birds Of Eden – The world’s largest free flying aviary and is situated right next to Monkeyland. Birds of Eden boasts over 3500 birds (200 species). Again, walking along boardwalks through a dense forest makes you forget for a few hours that you are anywhere close to civilization! The sanctuary has a „mysterious ruin“ which incorporates a walk behind a small waterfall. This is also a perfect spot to see the birds come down for a bath. Special attractions: turacos (loeries), hornbills, parrots, finches and blue crane. If you are lucky you might spot the rare Blue Duiker.

JukaniWildlife Sanctuary– Just like Monkeyland, Jukani offers a home to these rescued predators, where they can finally find a place of refuge. These animals are treated with respect and the sanctuary focuses on conversation, education and eco tourism.

A guided walk through the sanctuary takes about 90minutes where you will see lions, cheetahs, jaguar (if you lucky you will see Spirit), siberian tigers, hyenas, african wild dog, leopards, caracals, raccoons (sooooo NUNU!) and if you dare enter the snake tent, a variety of snakes.

A Knysna Loerie having a bath at Birds of Eden Sanctuary.

 

The suspension bridge – only enter if you have sturdy legs! Tsitsikamma National Park.

Tsitsikamma National Park

Tsitsikamma National Park offers a diverse list of activities from snorkeling, hiking, swimming, mountain biking and kayaking. Tsitsikamma is surrounded by the most dramatic scenery from the Tsitsikamma mountains, reefs, rivers, fynbos and of course the forests.

My reasons for going to Tsitsikamma is simple; the hiking! This region is famous for the start of the „Otter Trail“, something that is on my hiking bucket list. However, there are plenty of hikes around the park, the most popular must be the one to the Suspension Bridge and second to that, the Waterfall Hike.

Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales (during winter).The Knysna Loerie can be heard and spotted in the forest areas of the Park. Other sightings include the African black oystercatcher (endangered bird species) and the rare blue duiker can often been seen at the start of the Waterfall Hike. I have only seen the Cape Clawless Otter once playing in the breaking waves.

Sunset at the Waterfall Hike, Tsitsikamma National Park.
What a beautiful sight!

 

Ocean Blue Adventures

Get close to the giants of our seas with Ocean Blue Adventures. This close up dolphin encounter will leave you breathless and ever more inspired to protect our seas and marine creatures.

During the winter months our bay is graced with the presence of the majestic Southern Right and Humpback Whales. If you one of the lucky ones, you might witness a breaching (something I still need to see from a boat). You will be taken to Robberg Nature Reserve where you will witness the resident seal colony. Other sightings could include pelagic birds, sharks and penguins.

Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen!

Ocean Blue Adventures Website

Dolphins frolicking in the waves alongside the boat.
An aerial view of Robberg and Beach, starting from the Beacon Island Hotel.

Our beaches

As previously mentioned, Plettenberg Bay has the most beautiful beaches, not only in South Africa, but possibly the world (yes, I have travelled and know this to be a fact!). Stretching approximately 25 kilometres (from Robberg to Nature’s Valley) with four „Blue Flag Beaches“ (Keurboomstrand, Robberg 5, Lookout Beach and Nature’s Valley) you can enjoy unspoilt sandy beaches throughout the year!

There is something for everyone ranging from surfing, bodyboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, wind surfing, kitesurfing, skimboarding, SUP’ing, kayaking…the list goes on and on.

There is also nothing wrong with grabbing a good book and packing a picnic basket while enjoying the South African sun.

Poortjies Lagoon is very suited for family outings with the kiddies, as the water is shallow and calm and protected by the mouth of the lagoon. Here the little ones can safely play to their hearts’ content, whilst the parents lazily catch up on some rays. Also a popular spot for early morning dog walkers, especially when it’s low-tide. The lagoon is picturesque with little boats moored along the shore, and the natural surroundings offer the beach some shelter against the wind and sun through natural flora.

Lookout and Robberg beaches are the surfing hotspots. They are very popular with water athletes because of the great swells and waves. Both beaches are also very popular for wedding photo shoots and dog walkers alike. Both beaches offer swimming sections under the watchful eye of local lifeguards.

There really is a beach for each taste in Plettenberg Bay, and even if you’re not a “beach person”, there are plenty of opportunity for walks, photography, bird watching and even just for dipping your toes in the Indian ocean!

Keurboomstrand Beach – One of Four Blue Flag Beaches.

There are still so many adventurous activities around Plett that I haven’t experienced for myself, but they are definitely worth a mention:

  • Face Adrenaline – The highest bungy jump in Africa at a staggering 216 meters! Only for the very brave at heart!
  • Africanyon – This activity is definitely one I will do (soon)! Navigating through the river canyon, zip-lining from side to the other, jumping into fresh water mountain pools, sliding down natural water slides and abseil your way around waterfalls! Yeah, you want to do this, right? Me too! This is the perfect activity for the adrenaline junkies!
  • Storms River Village – The Storms River Village is set on the foothills of the majestic Tsitsikamma Mountain range and the village is set in the heart of forests. This little village is full of little surprises that I could dedicate an entire blog to, but here are a few of the “must do’s” if you are in the area:
    • Marilyn’s Diner – Be transported back to the 60’s with Cadillac’s and Chevy’s as decor and view the large Elvis and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia on display. Their American styled burgers and double thick Milkshakes are to die for!
    • Segway Tours – I have never laughed so much as when I first got onto one these Segways! These mono-wheeled vehicles are driven by your weight distribution and balance, which is a very strange feeling until you get the hang of it; after that it’s just pure fun! You will probably never want to get off again…the tours take you around the quaint village and through some pine and indigenous forests. If you are lucky and you get Madom as your guide, you are on a winning streak!

Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour – Zipline from one platform to another in between giant Outeniqua Yellowwood trees that are estimated around 700 years old. Keep an eye out for those beautiful Knysna Loeries or the elusive Narina Trogon

Segwaying your way through Pine & Indigenous Forests.

So, depending on how much time you have to spend in Plettenberg Bay, there is something for everyone and every family that will suit your specific needs and budget. No wonder I call this place HOME! I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the world! I hope you have enjoyed this blog and if you’re ever heading to South Africa, please make sure Plettenberg Bay is on your route – summer or winter, one day or a week, you will never be disappointed!

The iconic Beacon Island Hotel, back in the day it was a whaling station. How beautiful does that water look though?

 

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