If you head North-West from Cape Town, you will find an area of rugged beauty. The West Coast is synonymous with old village charm, long white beaches, sparkling blue seas, and laid-back, local vibes. Be warned though the sea here is icy cold and the wind normally picks up in the afternoon to give you a ferocious whipping. But this is part of the West Coast’s lure. It is certainly not as busy with tourists like the East Coast towards Hermanus. Yet it is still a great getaway, easy to venture to on the weekends and a great place to unwind in. Here are my favorite West Coast towns that you should visit!
Yzerfontein is about 80km from Cape Town. Here you will find a well maintained, very popular campsite with good facilities, situated within walking distance to the beach. But if camping is not up your alley, there are plenty of other accommodation options in this quaint West Coast town. The town also has a sprinkling of restaurants overlooking the beach. What I love most about Yzerfontein is the famous sixteen-mile beach which stretches all the way to the West Coast National Park. This long never-ending sandy beach is perfect to go running along, it is an unspoiled piece of nature. Time seems to stand still here! There are two other beaches worth noting, the Main beach has gentle waves and is a good place for novice surfers to test their skills. I even managed to catch a few waves here. This beach is also great for supping, kayaking, flying kites or simply enjoying an ice-cream! Then a bit further south is Pearl Bay Beach, which isn’t really ideal for swimming but perfect for the more advanced surfers to catch those larger waves! You will need your wetsuit.
20km up the road from Yzerfontein is the larger holiday town of Langebaan. There are more sporting options in Langebaan with a golf club and yacht club situated here. Langebaan also boasts a long sandy beach plus a stunning picturesque lagoon! The town is very popular with kite surfers and windsurfers.
The West Coast National Park borders onto the town and is worth leisurely driving through. If you visit during spring time you will see an array of colourful exquisite flowers. And remember to look out for wildlife too such as ostriches, zebras, gemsbok, and springbok. Bird watching is also popular in the park with over hundreds of species here. On the north end of the West Coast National Park is the beautiful Kraalbaai beach, which is, in fact, part of the lagoon. The beach is sheltered and is best for swimming as it is warmer than Langebaan’s main beach! Langebaan also has a good choice of restaurants to visit.
Paternoster is 145km from Cape Town. This town was originally a fishing village and is one of the oldest towns in the region. Fishermen still head out daily in their traditional wooden boats to catch fish which can be later bought in the market. The town has plenty of character and a timeless, vintage feel to it. Along the main road, you can visit art shops and browse through interesting art pieces and hand-made crafts. The Paternoster Hotel doesn’t seem to have changed at all since 1940! The interiors consist of dark wood with delicate glass work and stylish chandeliers. Eating out in Paternoster is a special treat with several fine dining options. The town also has a long sandy beach, perfect for long walks and collecting shells. While here you should visit Columbine Nature Reserve, also great for walking and exploring the sand dunes. Here you can also visit the brightly painted Cape Columbine Lighthouse. This was the last manned lighthouse built in 1936.
This town is about 240km outside of Cape Town up the West Coast. It is a small sparsely populated town and the least developed on this list. It really is a sleepy town where there isn’t much to do, except relax! Elands Bay is also a little fishing village but these days it is most popular with surfers, who come here to enjoy the popular surf breaks in and around the town. One place certainly worth visiting while in Elands Bay is the rustic, open-air, seafood restaurant called Muisbosskerm. This restaurant is located on the beach on the way towards Lambert’s Bay. You can watch the chefs as they cook over the coals then serve up the fish dishes buffet style. There is a wide variety of fish served and accompanying traditional West Coast dishes, that are all delicious. Remember to go there feeling very hungry as the buffet has so many tasty options you will have to roll out afterward.
So next time you feel the need to get away from Cape Town, do take a trip up the West Coast. These four West Coast towns are all uniquely special and certainly worth a visit.