A mere 25 minutes north of the Mother City you will find a whole new world just waiting to be explored; one of unspoiled beauty, pristine beaches, quaint fishing villages and rich cultural history. Here you will find 101+ things to do and see for the whole family and the warm embrace of the most hospitable region in the country.
It can, in fact, be said that nowhere else in South Africa offers the unique diversity that one can experience in as compact a region as the unique West Coast Biodiversity Corridor which stretches from Blaauwberg to St Helena Bay on the R27, and inland to the R45.
The West Coast is the quintessential ‘road less travelled’ and custom-built for a good old-fashioned road trip. To help you plan the perfect trip, West Coast Way has created two spectacular self-drive tours, the Culture and Foodie Route, which are made up of the top things to do and see on the Cape West Coast.
Whether you need a short road trip of just a day or have time to explore at your own pace, these routes will guide you to the very best the Cape West Coast has to offer:
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
Contact: 021 554 0957/ 021 444 0454 (Eerstesteen Resort)
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
Where: Just north of Blaauwberg on the R27 or Otto du Plessis Drive
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: 18.104.22.168 S and 22.214.171.124 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
Contact: +27 (0)22 4922825
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
Darling Tourism Bureau is open 7 days a week
Where: Pastorie Street, Darling,
Contact: +27 (0)22 492 3361 | [email protected] | www.darlingtourism.co.za
The Darling Wildflower show takes place annually over the third weekend in September (18th/19th/20th September 2015) 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 Free ride 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 Childrens 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
Contact: Con Meyer +27 (0)84 916 1111 or +27 (0)82 927 6225 | [email protected] | www.darlingwildflowers.co.za
9. Darling Brew Experience
Only 76km from Cape Town, Darling is a quaint town on the Cape West Coast, situated on the West Coast Way’s Culture Route. Well known for prolific displays of wildflowers that carpet the area in vibrant colours between August and October every year, the town embraces the art of slow living, which seems to foster creativity as there are many talented artistic residents living in the village. Road tripping is thirsty work so be sure to stop at the new Darling Brew Tasteroom & Brewery for a taste of ‘slow living’.
Distance from Cape Town: 76km
Darling Brew Tasteroom & Brewery: 48 Caledon Street, Darling
Brewery, Restaurant, Tastings & Sales, open-air kids play area, MTB-friendly, Live Events
School Holidays & Flower Season: Open 7 days a week.
All other days: Open Tuesday 9:00 – 17:00, Wednesday to Friday 9:00 – 21:00; Saturday & Sunday 9:00 – 17:00.
(For groups larger than 10 please book to avoid disappointment.)
Contact: +27 (0)21 286 1099 | [email protected] | www.darlingbrew.co.za
10. 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 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
12. !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
R150/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 | [email protected] | 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 the mild climate and protected waters of the lagoon also make it the perfect location for many water sports.
Distance from Cape Town: 116km
Coordinates: 33° 6′ 50″ S 18° 3′ 9″ E
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 sport 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 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 loca; 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
17. 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
18. 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 sun rise 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 an 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
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 1950’s 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
21. 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.
Open 7 days a week | Free entry
R300/person adult R150 pp for children (5-12 years); Free Under 5 years for 90 min Game Drive (No need to book)
R150/person for Archery Lesson (Booking essential)
Distance from Cape Town: 116km
Coordinates: 33˚ 03′ 10” S 18˚ 13′ 47” E
Contact: (c) +27 (0)82 372 8637 / +27 (0)83 275 2825 | [email protected] | www.thalithali.co.za
For more information call West Coast Way on 0861 321 777 / [email protected].
Connect with West Coast Way on Facebook and Twitter at WestCoastWaySA.
For instant access to more information about all these places, and loads more exciting West Coast destinations, an informative and free app is also available for download from Google Play store, Windows Phone store and the Apple iTunes store. West Coast Way’s 101+ Points of Interest app is available as part of an internationally recognised travel app called Tourism Radio City Guides, and showcases over 101 fantastic things to see and do on the West Coast.