When South African bands have gigs during the summer in Plettenberg Bay (a town along South Africa’s Garden Route), a friend of mine has a thing for telling the ticket sellers that we’re locals so that we can get a discount (hustlers gonna hustle). But really, when I think about it, we are locals…ish.
Though I live in undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and dynamic cities, I avoid my home town during the summer holidays (love you Cape town, but don’t love the December/January crowds). I prefer to spend 5 weeks lolling on the beach in Plettenberg Bay. Here, the water is warmer, the sand is cooler, the pace is slower, the people are friendlier, the drinks are cheaper, the grass is greener (well, probs not, but I think you catch my drift) and I’m happy as a clam. And, because I’m here so often and for so long, I’ve gotten to know (and love) the place on a deeper level…almost like a local.
So, if you’re planning a trip to Plettenberg Bay any time soon and want to meander off the proverbial beaten path of summer holiday to-do’s, then take a note out of my book and follow these 9 ways to take the town like a local (ish)…
1. First things first, call it “Plett”
Sometimes when I tell people I’m off to Plett (which is often), they’re like, “Huh, where?” But then as soon as I say “Plettenberg Bay”, they’re all “Oh cool, got you!”. But spelling out the name every single time is a mouthful and a mission and we don’t have time for that so a simple “Plett” will do.
2. Eat ALL the ice cream
I’m not one for diets and you won’t be either as soon as you arrive in Plett. It might be a small town, but it has a booming food culture with everything from world class wineries to divine bakeries (that smell of carbs and happiness), as well as THE BEST ICE CREAM I’VE EVER HAD. This ice cream can be found at Ice Palazzo, on Plett’s main road and I’d highly recommend the coffee flavour as well as a visit to the institution at least every second day (if not every day). And sneaky night missions for ice cream are also not frowned upon.
3. SUP down Keurbooms River
SUP stands for Stand Up Paddle board and Keurbooms River is my home while I’m in Plett – but, put them together and you have a winning combination. You can rent the necessary equipment in town and take lessons, too.
4. Glow in the Dark
While Red Tides (which occur during the summer months) aren’t great for swimming, fishing or eating shell fish, they do mean that there are more phosphorescent (i.e. GLOW IN THE DARK) plankton friends in the water. My favourite way to experience this phenomenon is to park off at Keubooms Strand at night and to watch the glowing waves crash into each other like liquid fireworks. If you splash the water or swish the wet sand, you’ll see sparks too as the movement causes a reaction in the plankton and makes them glow.
5. Wake up at sparrow’s fart/the crack of dawn to find Pansy Shells
These particular (and rare) sea treasures can only be found on the South Coast of South Africa, from Mossel Bay and upwards, but Plett is a popular spot to find them, especially at the Keurbooms River mouth. The perfect time to go a-hunting is at low tide, as the tide changes, and early in the morning before everyone else descends on to the beaches – you know you’re a regular Plett-goer when you get over excited about finding one.
6. Soak in the sunset from Keurbooms River
I really don’t think I’m being biased when I say that Keurbooms River offers one of the best views for the sunset in Plett. Grab a camera, a glass of wine and some mates, and enjoy the moment.
7. Hike Robberg more than once during your stay
Okay so I know I said diets were off the cards, but I didn’t say exercise had to be thrown out of the window entirely. In fact, there are so many different ways to keep active and simultaneously take in the scenery while in Plett, and one of my best ways to do that is by hiking the different trials at Robberg Nature Reserve. I try to go at least once a week during a five week stay and I enjoy it even more and see something new every single time.
8. Do at least one tourist-y thing you haven’t done before
Since I go to Plett every year, you would think I’d have done almost every tourist-y activity and visited every animal sanctuary. But, while I’ve been lucky enough to do and see some amazing things like walk with elephants, pat cheetahs, hang out with some squirrel monkeys and snorkel with stingrays, I find that there’s always something new to do. Plus, these activities can get expensive (and overcrowded during high season) so I try to spread them out. This year I really branched out (lol, punny) and did the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, where I lived my best monkey life for about an hour as we zip lined from tree to tree through the rain forrest. It was fanfreakingtastic.
9. Say howziit to the cows at “The Farm”
My family refers to Loredo farm, home to the Nature’s Way Farmstall (on the R102 to Nature’s Valley), as “The Farm” as if it’s “Our Farm” (I wish). It’s a dairy farm so visit the stall for the freshest best-est milk, yoghurt and cheese or even for a quick farm fresh brekkie…and to say hi to the baby cows and have a chat to Debra the mom-cow (yes, they are all individually named). SO. CUTE.
…Needless to say Plett holds a special place in my heart. I’ve only been back in Cape Town for two weeks and I’m already ready to leave for Plett again, to bask in the sun and the salty sea air and the warm waves…
Anyway, hope you enjoyed this post. I visit Plett a few times a year so stay tuned for more on my escapades in and top tips about this beautiful seaside town and surrounds.
Thanks for visiting my blog. x