Sea, sand, sunshine… check. A room with a view… check. Lazy days and laid-back veranda living… check. Enjoy this and more at our pick of seaside spots
1. Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort, Quirimbas Archipelago
Beach escapes don’t come better than at this boutique, private-island resort in northern Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago. With only 12 luxury, sea-facing villas, each with a private plunge pool, impeccable service and delicious cuisine (plenty of fresh seafood), the resort, which re-opened earlier this year, epitomises barefoot luxury.
Lapped by warm, turquoise waters, this white-sand island is paradise for romantics seeking an escape, while watersport fans are in for a treat. The remote location and the proximity of the deep water at the edge of the continental shelf mean that the scuba diving and deep-sea fishing off Medjumbe is some of the best in Mozambique.
Snorkelling, whale-watching trips, sunset cruises and picnics on deserted islands are among the more leisurely offerings. Or you can laze on the beach or on your lounger and gaze at the horizon. Simply heavenly.
Words Fiona McIntosh
2. Whalesong, De Kelders
The panorama of Walker Bay from the breakfast table distracted me from the food – or was it the other way around?
On a fine morning, owner Stanley Carpenter folds back the glass doors and this calm corner of the ocean, so beloved of the whales that overwinter here, is right in front of us. I could have lingered on the deck with coffee, but the cliff-top trail that starts at Gansbaai harbour and cuts through De Kelders was too tempting.
I set off in the direction of Walker Bay Nature Reserve and enjoyed the sight of the waves surging into the rocky gullies and the tough fynbos growing right on the coastline. Stanley and his wife Lainy had the stylish guest house purpose-built in a prime position on the cliff tops at De Kelders. Their experience and attention to detail shows in the five guest suites. Even the toiletries are eco-friendly and locally sourced, as is most of the food.
There’s a library and a cosy fireplace should the weather change, and a remarkable view of the bay and the sunsets.
Words Marion Whitehead
3. Ocean Gaze B & B, Ramsgate
The ‘Gaze’ in Ocean Gaze has a double meaning in that it refers to the surname of owners, Ken and Clare, and speaks of a view that will make you stop and stare. Positioned just above Ramsgate’s Blue Flag beach, Ocean Gaze is a fabulously appointed B&B offering everything you could wish for when staying at the beach – a central location; a warm welcome from hosts who, being long-time residents of Ramsgate, can tell you all the bests spots; luxury accommodation; and a bed so comfortable you might not want to get up in the morning.
And certainly, if your reason for going to Ramsgate is simply to gaze at the ocean, you won’t have to get out of bed as all four suites are sea-facing. But that would mean you’d miss out on Clare’s delicious vegetarian breakfasts. And if vegetarian isn’t your style, a voucher buys you an alternative breakfast at the famous Waffle House down the road.
Words Andrea Abbott
4. Casa de Praia, Paternoster
Aptly named to mean ‘house on the beach’, the self-catering Casa de Praia couldn’t be closer to the ocean, with only beach between it and the sea. And it’s in a cul-de-sac with added privacy and open land on either side of the house.
Step off the front veranda onto low-slung, white West Coast dunes. The Atlantic Ocean is right there, but if it’s too cool for you, a dip in the freshwater pool – with full sea views – is an appealing option.
The two-bedroom house has a relaxed indoor/outdoor feel when the white wooden shutters are wide open. Inside is spacious but cosy, with a large fireplace and uncluttered decor. The views are the focus when you’re this close to the sea.
A patio with a pergola, bench-table and braai encourages lazy meals by day and night. It’s fully equipped for self-catering, and there’s a dishwasher and icemaker, DStv, off-street parking and excellent security, and a splendid stretch of white beach with a quaint fishing village to explore close by.
082 760 3529, [email protected], paternosterrentals.co.za
Words Keri Harvey
5. Anvil Bay, Maputo Special Reserve
If ever you dreamed of having a vast stretch of wilderness coastline all to yourself, know that it’s possible. Anvil Bay in southern Mozambique is the ultimate wilderness experience and the only luxury accommodation in Maputo Special Reserve.
Protecting the last population of coastal-dwelling elephants in Southern Africa, this reserve is home to plentiful wildlife and more than 350 bird species. Imagine watching humpback whales frolic in the bay, with an elephant stroll by and a fish eagle call overhead – all at the same time? We did. Plus there are throngs of dolphins along the coast.
The tented lodge is magnificent in its simplicity, built of wood and canvas with palm-thatched roofs. The main dining area and open-air bar have floors of beach sand and all structures have minimal impact on the environment.
Nine spacious, elevated casinhas or chalets are tucked into the tangled coastal forest and are luxurious, secluded and private. There’s just the sound of the sea and birdsong. The round-tented suites can be opened up and each has a private deck. The lodge overlooks the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve – a pristine section of coastline – while the sandy beaches are prime leatherback and loggerhead turtle nesting grounds. Every year from October to March the turtles lumber onto the beaches to lay the next generation. Conservation and local communities benefit directly from tourism here, and it’s a rare model of sustainability in one of Africa’s wild and beautiful places.
Words Keri Harvey
6. Storms River Mouth, Garden Route National Park
Mother Nature smiles on this lush corner of Eden, endowing its towering forests and rocky shore with so much beauty that it draws visitors from near and far. A stay in the chalets on this enchanting piece of the Tsitsikamma coast had been on my bucket list for ages, so I leapt at the opportunity to stay over during a trip up the coast.
I’d previously camped on a grassy terrace almost within spray of the sea at spring high tide, and had been impressed with the homely touches in the spotlessly clean ablution blocks. My chalet, however, was higher up against the forest skirt and had bigger views. The well-equipped kitchen meant it wasn’t necessary to visit the camp restaurant, but the calamari there was well worth it. The short walk through the forest to the suspension bridge over the river mouth is a must and there are also longer walks to enjoy.
It’s advisable to book ahead as the chalets fill up fast. And if you’re doing the Otter Trail, which starts here, it’s a good idea to plan a few days at Storms River Mouth before or after your hike so you can try the snorkelling trail and river rides.
Words Marion Whitehead
7. Breedezicht Estate, Witsand
If you want to get away from it all, with zero distractions, there’s nowhere better to go than the village of Witsand. It occupies pride of place on this coastal stretch, guarding the mouth of the majestic Breede River and the St Sebastian Bay shoreline.
St Sebastian Bay is the most important nursery area on the African Coast for southern right whales. Witsand is only a three-hour drive from Cape Town and is a welcome stop on a trip along the southern Cape coast. Our modern fisherman’s cottage in the Breedezicht Estate was cosy and complete with everything we needed, so much so that we spent a good portion of the weekend on our patio soaking up the sun, the views and the absence of the crazy world we’d left behind.
The attraction is most certainly the river, where you can enjoy water sports of all kinds, from fishing to skiing, canoeing and bird watching. We opted for leisurely walks on the beach before heading to the local pub for supper. Breedezicht Estate is a new housing development, sprawled along the fringe of the village, offering self-catering homes with easy access to the river, beach and all essential facilities. An added bonus is that the estate is pet friendly.
Words Rina de Wet
8. Medjumbe Island Resort, Quirimbas Archipelago
Medjumbe is a once-in-a-lifetime escape. Just 1km long, this slender bit of paradise ticks all the boxes for luxe beach-side chilling. Twelve chalets are dotted along the bay, just a short stroll from the ocean. The antithesis of high-energy vacation spots, this is all about peace and quiet in the most spectacular surroundings.
Perfect for couples, you can be as busy or as slothful as you like. Settle in for a quiet read as a pair of dimorphic egrets patiently watches the shallows. Learn how to sail a dhow or go the full monty and dive the Edge of Reason with superb instructor Tiberio.
Fabulous food and icy caipirinhas are a given, but service and luxury aside, this marine reserve is a global treasure. Home to nesting green turtles, dolphins and visiting black-tip sharks, it’s simply unforgettable.
+27 10 003 8979, Anantara.com
Words Tess Paterson
9. John’s Place, Black Rock near Haga-Haga
Once on the good gravel thoroughfare that leads through a game-filled nature reserve to the ocean and beaches, you’ll realise you’re on a road less travelled. Here, a generously-sized, three-bedroom log cabin is but a three-minute walk through willowy thatch grass to a coastline that is every hiker and fisherman’s dream.
The less energetic can relax beside the lapping water as lazy days drift by. With everything a group of six might need, this self-catering accommodation is for those who enjoy starlit nights and solitary days.
Black Rock is a favourite whale-watching location and the abundance of these majestic animals as well as dolphins and seabirds, especially during the annual Sardine Run, makes the views here a visual treat. And it’s on the renowned Strandloper Trail.
The closest shop is in Haga-Haga about 15km away – so we arrived prepared. There are only five other homes on this 16-hectare piece of paradise, so we were assured of peace and privacy. Books, magazines, games and DStv are there for the unlikely occurrence of a rainy day.
082 546 5112, 082 804 3404
Words Olivia Schaffer