Road Tripping South Africa’s West Coast
By The Travel Manuel
South Africa is truly spectacular in every season, but I won’t lie that summer is ultimately my favourite. It’s the season which calls for beach time, braai days, al fresco dining, warm summer nights, road tripping and holidays; what’s not to love? Speaking of beaches and road tripping, we got to road trip along South Africa’s West Coast with Protea Hotels by Marriott. With the Protea Hotel in Saldanha as our base, we explored the ocean, family, cultural and foodie elements of this route. We have loved the West Coast for the longest time and frequently visit to get a dose of the wild Atlantic beauty, the turquoise waters of Kraalbaai, the abundance of stars by night and some of the best seafood you’ll find countrywide
West Coast Farmstall
This is one of those great farm stalls where you can take a lovely lengthy break. Refuel with a lunch of homemade pies, toasted sandwiches or salads whilst the kids enjoy the huge playground with a giant chess set, jungle gym and tunnel of tyres. And that’s after you’ve made your way through the giant aviary of various birds. Spot parrots of every hue and budgies but heed the warning signs on the fences for your kids not to stick their fingers through the cages as they do bite.
Find it: At the intersection of the R27 with the R315 to Yzerfontein.
The Farmyard Farm Stall
This is another gem along the R27 at the intersection where you can have lunch, let the little ones run riot and fill up the car before you hit the road again. Sweets, treats, tarts and jams can be found inside the shop and tables can be found all the way around on the stoep and outside undercover. Buy bird food to feed the chickens with or walk across the grass to where the duck pond is. Beneath the old windmill is a wooden jungle gym perfect for the kids to release their pent-up energy on.
Find it: R27, after Blaauwberg and before Melkbosstrand.
Ocean and Beach Activities
Kraalbaai and Preekstoel Beach, West Coast National Park
When I visited Kraalbaai many years ago, I could hardly believe the colour of the water. A pure aquamarine hue, it rather resembled that of a tropical island than any water I’d seen in South Africa. In fact, I’m not sure you’ll find such a combination of soft white sand and light blue water quite like this in the country. Sheltered from almost all West Coast gusts, you’ll find people boating, stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking in these calm waters. With no real waves of any kind, children can play in these shallow waters quite safely. Preekstoel has braai facilities so bring your boerewors and your braai goodies and get your lunch going before going down for a dip.
Kayak in Langebaan
We rented a double kayak at West Coast Sea Kayaking for half a day with Gravity Adventures for R350 and took it with us to Kraalbaai. Weather depending, you can launch right there from Langebaan beach opposite Pearlies or even go a longer guided kayak trip which takes you out and around the island. The day we arrived was a kitesurfer’s dream which means it was generally too windy for other non-motorized craft.
With some of the best seafood South Africa has to offer, you’ll have so many options of where to eat. But I would encourage not to miss the Strandloper restaurant if at all possible. For R295 per person you’ll feast on a 10 course seafood meal ( barring lamb/beef stew) with roosterkoek ( bread made over the fire), garlic bread, sweet potato as sides. As our feet sunk into the sand and the sun dipped into the Atlantic, we made our way through mouth-watering mussels cooked in white wine, seafood curry, crayfish, snoek and other assortments of fish with only mussel shells as our cutlery.
Caleb was in his absolute element here as they had beach buckets, spades and toys to play with and he got to spend the whole evening on the ‘beach’ whilst we ate. They provide glasses if you’d like to bring your own drinks but there is a cash bar situated up on the rocks. Bring cash to pay with as there are no card facilities. Lunch starts at 12pm until about 4pm and dinner starts around 6pm until late. If you’re going at night, be sure to bring a warm jacket as the West Coast wind can get chilly at night.
Visit: Die Strandloper
Protea Hotel by Marriott Saldanha Bay for Oysters and Mussels
Turns out that we didn’t ever have to leave the Protea Hotel by Marriott Saldanha Bay as they are well known for their delicious mussels and oysters. There are various assortments of mussels served in different ways and portions, so pick and choose and dine out on the terrace overlooking the ocean when the sun has smudged the sky a pale pink. The chic ocean-inspired lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows provide the best views and light and is the perfect setting for sundowners, lunch and dinner.
San experience at Kwattu
If you are coming with young kids, we would suggest you do the San experience tour by tractor. If you’re keen on a bike or a stroll then opt for the walking or biking options all R195 per person. Khwattu is a rather unique place in that it’s one of the last centres supporting the upliftment, training and preserving of the San people and their traditions. Southern Africa’s original people, they have all but disappeared due to their land and rights being taken away from settlers, but 6000 remain in South Africa.
Khwattu educates and trains young San people in travel and tourism and those who show promise are able to stay on and become interns and staff members. Kwhattu offers a hub for outdoor activities for all ages where you’re able to get a glimpse of how the San once lived whilst hunting and gathering. Join them for lunch in their restaurant or tour around to discover indigenous plants which we all either used for medicine or food.
Another spot which is fun for the entire family is this fossil park. Set with a kids playground, coffee shop and picnic area, there is a lot to do before you even get stuck into the fossil finding. Adventure seekers can rent a bike and hit their trail or you can hike along their nature trail. Said to once be a subtropical climate with open grasslands and riverine forest, the West Coast was once home to now extinct species such as short-necked giraffes, saber-toothed cats, African bears and hunting hyenas. The guided tours are a great way to discover just how and when fossils were first discovered in this region.
Entrance fee without a tour is R35 per person, children under 5 are free.