In recent years, a world of vacationers has turned into a world of travelers. “Vacation” means different things to different people. Not all travelers are seeking crowds, can’t-miss sights, or structured itineraries.
There are a number of travelers who want to know where everyone is and what they’re doing, so they can slip away in the opposite direction. For the traveler who is seeking peace, quiet, and reflection, the coastline of South Africa provides refuge.
The Western and Eastern Capes are easy-going, refined relaxation at its best. Endless miles of pristine views — views that are in no way hindered by high-rise hotel compounds — give way to rolling verdant mountains and winding roads dotted with farms and wineries, begging for a scenic drive and a long leisurely lunch.
On South Africa’s shoreline, one of the most “touristy” activities you can participate in is staring at the ocean’s horizon from a boat while you wait patiently for a whale to surface. No Disney World-esque hubbub here. Let this be your unguide to the country’s most peaceful hideaways.
The Unguide to the Western and Eastern Capes of South Africa
How You Could Get There
The Garden Route of South Africa’s coastline is on top of any road-tripping traveler’s bucket list. This 300 kilometer (186 miles) stretch of highway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth takes you by gorgeous beaches, national parks, hiking trails, million-dollar views, museums and art galleries of all sizes, and just inland at the base of the mountains are world-class wineries and restaurants — everything you could ever need to unwind.
Here are a few more scenic drives we recommend.
Where You Could Stay
Brenton On Sea is a quiet picturesque seaside resort town in Eden District Municipality. With a population just under 300, this is a wonderful vacation hideaway. Brenton is about five and a half hours from Cape Town, but the drive takes you through scenic mountains and around the stunning shoreline of South Africa, making for an unforgettable ride. As for lodging, there are a number of villas and cottages located directly on the water.
Boggoms Bay (Boggomsbaai) is another — smaller! — coastal holiday village with a booming population of roughly 70 people. It’s roughly an hour and half closer to Cape Town than Brenton On Sea. Boggoms also offers quiet beautiful beaches as well as a local golf club. Similarly to Brenton, there are a vacation rentals available throughout this beautiful sleepy little village.
Sights You Could See
Buffalo Bay (Buffelsbaai) Beach is walking distance from Brenton on Sea and is fantastic for laying in the sand, safe swimming, great surfing, and even fishing. An ideal and far less crowded beach to enjoy away from the thick of the tourists further west.
Tsitsikamma National Park is one part of the Garden Route National Park, on South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The Tsitsikamma area encompasses a marine reserve, deep gorges, and the “Big Tree” — a towering yellowwood that is estimated to be between 600 and 800 years old.
The Outeniqua Mountains are part of the Garden Route of South Africa. The highest point is Cradock Peak with an elevation of 1,578 meters (5,177 feet) and, needless to say, offers spectacular views. It’s important to note that the Cradock Pass Day Trail is for especially experienced hikers only. That said, this strenuous and rocky hike does offer an abundance of mountain scenery.
Packwood Winery and Plettenvale Wines are both wineries located along the Garden Route that are within a reasonable drive of Brenton on the Sea. Each offer a fabulous local selection. Packwood boasts a spectacular restaurant and stunning views. Plettenvale is best known for its Brut Rose — perfectly refreshing after a morning spent at the beach.
Places Where You Could Dine
Red Bridge Brewing Company is a five-year old craft brewery in Knysna with a laid-back beach vibe, ocean views, and fantastic beer. South Africa is a major player in the world’s hops production and is finally beginning to see their own burgeoning craft beer scene. With a focus on supporting local businesses in their own community, this is an easy spot to appreciate.
East Head Cafe in Knysna offers up light, fresh fare including expertly roasted coffee and seafood pulled from the ocean just beyond their patio, all in a beautiful and relaxing environment. It’s a favorite for locals and visitors alike.
Sirocco would make for a relaxing and quiet date night. Located on the water in Krysna’s trendy Thesen Harbor Town, the restaurant boasts friendly service and great food in a comfortable atmosphere. The menu is loaded with plenty of seafood, craft beer, and local wine.
We offer plenty of guided tours for the introvert, extrovert, quiet nature-lover and risk-taking adrenaline junkie. For more tips, ideas, and advice for seeing all there is to see in South Africa, visit us at vacationtosouthafrica.com.