South Africa’s beautiful West Coast stretches from Cape Town all the way to the border with Northern Cape at Touws River. This almost secret paradise is a treasure trove of unspoilt beaches, majestic mountain ranges, and blankets of colourful wildflowers, and is now being rediscovered as a holiday destination.
The land is geographically diverse. Along the coastline are a magnificent lagoon, quaint historic towns, and numerous small fishing villages. Swartland and Sandveld are home to grain and wine farms. The Olifantsrivier Valley is abundant with citrus and wine. The Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek Mountains loom magnificently in the background, combining with the while the arid beauty of the Namaqualand and the Knersvlakte.
This charming region offers a variety of travel experiences and attractions. Many old buildings and historical sites are beautifully restored and maintained, including the birthplace of General Jan Smuts and the battlefields of the Anglo-Boer war.
The region is made rich by a diversity of cultures that form part of its heritage. The original inhabitants of the region were the Khoi, now known for the rock art they left behind in the Cederberg Mountains before the coming of the Europeans, who established seven mission stations throughout the region.
The small harbour town of Yzerfontein has a beautiful, 16-mile stretch of beach on the west coast. Yzerfontein’s main sources of income are fishing and tourism Year-round sunshine, a pleasant climate, and lovely terrain that includes a rocky cape and the bay make it a great place for hiking, biking, scenic tours and sailing. In the spring, visitors come here to go whale-watching, when the whales come into the bay to calve.
To the north of Yzerfontein is the West Coast National Park.
When you come to Darling in the spring, meadows of colourful wildflowers as far as the eye can see will greet you. Fields of wheat surround this lovely town, situated a few miles inland from Yzerfontein. Part of South Africa’s famous wine region, Darling also has acres of vineyards and four wine farms.
Darling is an agricultural village that produces wheat, vegetables and dairy products. It has a lively arts and crafts market, beautifully restored old homes, flower shows and museums. The oldest home here is Langfontein, the farm around which the rest of the town sprang up in the mid-19th century.
The village has a park, a theatre complex, a 9-hole golf course, supermarkets and shops, restaurants, banks, a pharmacy, a clinic and schools.
Darling is only an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
The seaside resort of Lambert's Bay enjoys pleasant year-round weather—and light sea breezes from the South Atlantic Ocean even on the hottest days. In season, you can go fishing, diving for crayfish, or observing birds here. The countryside around it is and dotted with farms and, in spring, carpeted with colourful Namaqualand daisies and Bokbaai vygies.
Lamberts Bay has hotels and guest houses for tourists and villas, apartments and town houses for those looking for those looking to invest in property here. The village has the usual amenities, including restaurants, shops and recreation facilities. In the harbour, boats can be chartered for dolphin-watching trips.
Off the coast of Lamberts Bay is Bird Island. It is a well-named natural sanctuary, as thousands of birds come here to nest and breed, especially between September and February. Bird watchers can observe cormorants, gannets, pelicans, penguins, seagulls and other species from a lookout point, then refresh themselves at the island’s restaurant.
Britannia Bay is a nature lover’s dream. Its beaches are quite unspoilt, their warm waters teeming with whales and dolphins for most of the year. The land area is rich in indigenous plant and animal species. Two vital bird sanctuaries in the area are the West Coast National Park, home to more than 250 bird species, and the Rocherpan Nature Reserve, a wetland that is home to several bird species and wildflowers.
Shelley Point is a lovely peninsula going out into the tranquil waters of Shelley Bay. The bay is home to a profusion of marine life, from dolphins to cormorants, abalone and mussels. The waters are quite shallow in addition to being calm, so are safer for children. Vasco da Gama, one of the first European explorers to set foot on the South African coast, landed here, and today the Point has a museum in his memory.
Shelley Point also has a nine-hole golf course and a spa.
One of the upmarket areas in Britannia Bay is Sunset Beach. The area has a white sand beach that is frequented by surfing, windsurfing and sailing enthusiasts. Many expatriates have invested in property here.
Sunset Beach is close to the Canal Walk entertainment and shopping area, the wine region of the Constantia Valley, and historic Robben Island.