This story was published on 28 November 2018 and was updated on 26 August 2019.
Grab your swimsuits and sun hats, and feel the sand between your toes at these seaside spots.
1. Serendipity, Cebe
Set in sub-tropical gardens alive with birds, and with a private gate leading onto the beach, Serendipity is everything you could possibly desire of an escape to the beach. There are three bedrooms in the main cottage, plus an additional room in a bungalow – each simply but artfully decorated with a mix of funky artworks, shells, driftwood and other treasures from the beach. Cozy communal spaces, including a lounge with a library, a beach bar and braai area overlooking the beach, and a big dining room where guests share a long table at meals, make you feel right at home. Each bedroom is so different that it’s hard to choose a favourite, but all are airy, en suite and have super-comfy beds. We felt safe in this lush oasis and so opened the full-length glass doors of our room, fell asleep listening to the sound of the ocean and slept like logs. The garden has a little swing and lots of benches on which to chill, watch the sea, listen to the birds or just be. If you’re feeling active, the long beaches and waves call. The efficient, ever-smiling staff made us feel very welcome, the food was superb (though you can use the kitchen and self-cater if you wish) and the general feeling of calm ensured that we came away rejuvenated. It was the perfect beach escape, a serendipitous discovery indeed.
Words Fiona McIntosh
Looking for things to do on the Wild Coast? Take a look at Fiona’s list of Wild Coast activities.
2. The Spinning Reel, Port Alfred
An early morning stroll from my comfy bed, down a path through thick coastal forest, brought me right onto the primary dune of a delightful little bay west of Kelly’s Beach, which enjoys Blue Flag status. There was not a soul about and I had the sandy bay to myself, bar a pair of Black Oystercatchers skimming over the tidal pool Frank Gardner built among the rocks for kiddies in the 1970s. Back then, Frank had just four simple, family beach cottages tucked among the silver oaks and milkwoods at The Spinning Reel, which has the high-tide mark for a boundary. Since inheriting it, son Steve has added more accommodation, including a couple of rustic log chalets that he built himself. All are discretely sited in the dune forest to ensure maximum privacy and a sea view from stoep or balcony. The budget beach cottages are basic, oldschool kind of places where it doesn’t matter if the kids run up the path from the beach in their wet cozzies with sand on their feet. The larger self-catering chalets offer more comfort and they’re also good value. Two modern B&B rooms attached to the main house are well appointed, with small kitchenettes so you can spend the evening in if you don’t feel like going out for dinner. All have braai facilities and DStv. Apart from fishing and beach activities, plus the on-site tennis court, there’s plenty to do in the area – the Royal Port Alfred Golf Course is just up the road and there are plenty of boating options on the Kowie River, from canoeing to sunset cruises.
+27 (0) 46 624 4281
Words Marion Whitehead
3. Mseni Beach Lodge, Sodwana Bay
On a SCUBA-diving holiday in Sodwana Bay, my family and I stayed in this rather lovely and nautically themed lodge in the heart of Sodwana Bay. Overlooking the evergreen forests and undeveloped beaches in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s the only private upmarket lodge within the park itself, and the only one with a sea view. We stayed in one of the self-contained forested ‘homes’ which had tons of space for the kids to run around in, as well as a fully equipped kitchen and the most beautiful sea-view deck. When not diving Sodwana’s reefs, we hiked the private forest trail leading down to an endless swathe of undeveloped beach that we had to ourselves. There is an excellent open-air restaurant on site, with all things fishy (think mussel pots, prawns and good ol’ fish and chips) on the menu, but if you’re on a budget it’s great to have the option of cooking your own meals. And when we had had enough of the surf and salt of the Indian Ocean, we lazed around the swimming pool, sipping wine.
+27 (0) 33 345 6531; [email protected]
Words Dale Morris
4. Arniston Seaside Cottages, Arniston
Time Magazine and I agree. Arniston, or Waenhuiskrans as the locals know it, must be ‘One of the most magical and unspoilt spots on the Cape South Coast’. A leisurely two-hour drive from Cape Town along the N2, Arniston lies at the end of the turn-off from Bredasdorp. And if you stay at Arniston Seaside Cottages, you won’t need to get back in your car once you’re there. The cottages sleep up to eight and are fully-equipped and serviced daily, which is an extra bonus when you are on holiday. All are within walking distance of Roman Beach, the main swimming beach, and the tidal pools where you can catch your own fish. If the fish aren’t biting, take a walk to the slipway in front of the Arniston Spa Hotel where, in season, you can bargain for fresh fish with the local fishermen from Kassiesbaai. The hotel’s pub is a great place to meet some of the locals and, for a special treat, have a meal at Wanda’s in the fishing village of Kassiesbaai. At low tide be sure to visit the incredible tidal cave for which Waenhuiskrans is named. We landed a family unit named Chateaux Louis and the Honeymoon Suite. Not quite a chateau, but certainly spacious with the open-plan kitchen and lounge extending onto a large deck with panoramic views, and an open log fireplace for chilly evenings that also doubles up as an indoor braai. And much to our old staffie Jackson’s delight, pets are welcome by prior arrangement. Never did find out how Chateau Louis came by its name.
+27 (0) 28 445 9772
Words Nita Hazell
Take a look at these 5 things to do in Kassiesbaai.
5. Birkenhead House, Hermanus
When body, mind and spirit suggested it was time for R&R, I recalled recommendations about a place where I could don casual-but-smart attire, soak up the relaxed ambience, lose myself in the extraordinary seascapes and treat myself to an indulgent country escape where fresh ocean breezes could rekindle the spark that often fades at year end. Birkenhead House was the place. It’s fashionably chic with traces of eccentric opulence, as well as unsurpassed vistas over the Atlantic Ocean. Rooms have deluxe-superior, superior, luxury and standard gradings. I was charmed by our luxury accommodation – a tad quirky with a gold antique chair, shagreen desk and free-standing Victorian bath. The sea views were picture perfect. After a night of complete comfort, we took an invigorating walk along the town’s renowned, fynbos-lined Cliff Path that hugs the coastline. Hermanus offers various activities including whale watching (in season), golfing, hiking, wine tasting and so much more. Meals and drinks are included in the rates at this five-star boutique hotel.
+27 (0) 28 314 8000
Words Olivia Schaffer
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6. Koensrust Beach Shack, Vermaaklikheid
Built below a cliff, overlooking a long unspoilt beach, is a traditional fisherman’s cottage that’s been upgraded without losing its rustic charm. Four whitewashed buildings, which sleep up to eight people, offer basic yet comfortable, pet-friendly accommodation with all the essentials, including a fully-equipped kitchen, dining room, and hot indoor and outdoor showers. The bedrooms are simply decorated but the beds are comfy with crisp white linen. It was a treat to sleep with doors open, listening to the roar of the sea. We spent most of our time relaxing in the charming outside braai/lounge area that is decorated with shells, driftwood and other beachcomber treasures. Two kilometres of private beach frontage with rock pools and ancient San fish traps make for fantastic strolling, snorkelling and swimming, and there are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking, hiking and canoeing on the farm. Be warned, it is a stiff walk from the cliff-top parking to the cottage so you need to be reasonably agile, but porters can transfer your food and luggage if needed.
+27 (0) 61 273 1906; [email protected]
Words Shaen Adey
7. One Marine Drive Boutique Hotel, Hermanus
The delights of Hermanus are many and varied. Including the different types of food in town, with plenty of places just to unwind and take a load off the old feet. And then there are some of the very best wine estates in the country just a short drive away, with excellent restaurants on many of them. Oh, did I mention the whales? This is some of the best land-based whale watching in the world to which visitors flock in their thousands. Some visitors decry the fact that the town has changed from the sleepy little village of yore into something a whole lot more popular – but that is the way of success. There is really too much to see and do in one day, and two nights – if you have the time – will do it very nicely. One of the nicest places to stay – with rates that will not break the bank – is One Marine Drive. This shipshape little place has excellent accommodation, very much in the modern idiom, with one or two tasteful signs to remind you that you are in a nautical setting. There are five luxurious rooms, with air con of course, and the staff are as friendly and helpful as can be. The swimming pool is perfect for relaxing while someone brings you a glass of something to quench that thirst.
+27 (0) 28 313 1234
Words Greg Landman
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