The West Coast is a beautiful region of the Western Cape, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Swartland on the east. With a mishmash of charming fishing villages, the West Coast National Park, Cape Fossil Park, and the magnificent wildflower display in spring, Route 27 has fast become a major holiday route for those escaping the big city.
The West Coast, or “Weskusâ€ in Afrikaans, stretches more than 400km and incorporates 44 small towns, including Langebaan, Darling, Saldanha, Paternoster, St Helena, Yzerfontein, and the famous Namaqualand region. It is an almost undiscovered region of beaches, mountain ranges, and oceans. The region gains popularity during August and September when visitors travel to see the famous wildflowers. The Cape West Coast Peninsula Rainbow Flower Celebration takes place from July through to September, and covers the towns of Langebaan, Hopefield, Saldanha, Vredenburg, St Helena Bay, Paternoster, Jacobs Bay, and Britannia Bay.
The West Coast National Park incorporates the lagoon, a protected wetland, and forms part of the Flamingo Bird route. The park also offers excellent whale watching from Tsaarbank; cycling routes; swimming and picnicking opportunities at Kraal Bay; a restaurant in the historic Geelbek building; as well as an information centre and curio shop. Don’t miss a chance to see "Eve's Footprint" near Kraal Bay, estimated to be 117,000 years old!
The West Coast Fossil Park has fossils of 200 different species, many of them new to science. The park offers daily tours of the digging sites, a coffee and gift shop, kid’s playground, as well as horse, hiking and mountain bike trails.
The Cape Columbine Nature Reserve is especially beautiful in flower season. Visit the Cape Columbine Lighthouse, the last manually controlled lighthouse to be built in South Africa, and the first to be seen by ships sailing from Europe. Other activities in the reserve include hiking, angling, bird-watching, diving, and kayaking.
The West Coast is a gem for nature lovers who flock to see the southern right whales from August to October. Lambert’s Bay is a particularly good spot for whale watching. In addition, the Cape West Coast Peninsula lies between two Important Bird Areas (IBAs), the West Coast National Park and the Lower Berg River Wetlands, where birders can spot a variety of birds in mountain, coastal, river, and estuarine habitats.
The West Coast is a seafood mecca for delicious snoek, mussels, and crayfish. Don’t forget to try ‘bokkoms’ , the local delicacy of salted mullet hung on a string to air dry. Beach braais are also popular affairs.
Each town holds an attraction of its own. Clanwilliam is great for boating and water sporting on the dam, Citrusdal has a thermal hot spring, and Paternoster exudes a yesteryear fishing village atmosphere. Drive inland to the wine farms of the Swartland and Sandveld, hike the Cederberg and Groot Winterhoek mountains, and keep an eye out for renosterveld, a West Coast vegetation in danger of extinction. Take it slow with boat cruises in Velddrif, walk 16 Mile beach in Yzerfontein, or explore the Rock Art Cave in Eland’s Bay. The kids will love Club Mykonos, and Sunny Park in Langebaan which offers super tubes, a slip ‘n slide, jungle gym, pedal karts, and putt putt.
No matter which West Coast town you stay in, you will be promised a holiday to remember!