And I’m back! Happy new year everybody, hope you lot had an adventurous (and still somewhat restful) festive season, and welcome back to my little bloglet.
Well, I say “I’m back”, yet in the technical sense of the phrase, I’m still in Plettenberg Bay and haven’t yet returned to Cape Town. But, I’ve given myself some time to think about other things besides creating content and pending first actual real proper adult job opportunities, to hang out with family and friends and soak up all the sun and salty sea air I can get.
Speaking of which, I spend 90% of my time in Plett living my best beach bum life. The water here is warmer and the marine life abundant, and I revel in taking every opportunity to swim in the sea, build up a tan while reading my book (currently very involved in Sir David Attenborough’s latest compilation Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions) and paddle down the river. Even as I write this, I’m sitting by the river with my laptop, waiting for the wind to drop a bit more so I can go glide gracefully (well, in the most graceful way possible for a potato) along the water aboard my stand-up paddleboard.
While I live in a city famed for its beaches (albeit with water so cold I can barely consider immersing myself in it without a full wetsuit – or a desire to lose a toe or three), Plett’s coastline is also one of South Africa’s most pristine and beautiful. Six of its beaches have been awarded the prestigious and internationally-recognised Blue Flag status, which means that not only do they rank super high in the beauty stakes, but they’re also making waves in terms of marine conservation. Besides for the usual suspects, there are also loads of lesser-known spots to escape the maddening crowds that alight upon Plett in the summer.
I like to think myself somewhat of an expert on the matter of sand and sea (although don’t ask me how to leave the beach without half of it in my bikini because, 23 years later, I still haven’t figured it out) so, whether you’re keen on surfing, socializing, sunbathing or not seeing a single other soul, here’s a look at my favourite of Plett’s beaches.
Keurboomstrand (Blue Flag)
Rise and shine it’s time for morning walkies! I could spend an entire day on the beach – starting with my daily pre-brekkie stroll, a holiday-habit that’s easy to maintain.
Keurboomstrand is undoubtedly my favourite stretch along which to work on my daily 10 000 step count. This is partly because it’s located slightly out of the centre of Plett, but is mostly due to the fact that it’s a vast and uninterrupted length of beach. If you go early enough, the closest other individual will be a mere speck in the distance.
Park as near as you can get to the restaurant Enrico’s (prime views for sundowners, btw) to access the main part of the beach. Here you’ll find lifeguards, a safe area to swim and a small shop that sells ice cream (always helpful in averting a hangry-fuelled crisis). But, as with most beaches in Plett, the later in the day you go, the busier it gets. For a quiet walk, I leave the house at 7am and prefer to access this extensive beach via a pathway that starts at the bottom of the Keurboomsrivier road and that winds up and over the dune. Then, I walk in the direction of the river mouth (there and back is a solid 6km), picking up shells along the way and looking out for large pods of dolphin. While this particular patch might not officially be referred to as Keurboomstrand, it’s all kinda same-same and equally blissful.
This is the quieter version of Central Beach and has always been my family’s go-to when it’s windy – if you strategically place your umbrella behind some rocks, you can mostly avoid the intermittent gusts. While I say “quieter” than Central, this is a relative term as it’s still very popular, especially for large family gatherings. But, if you can handle a random kiddo or two running between your towel, then it’s well worth a visit for a dip in the waves and prime people-watching (cos lezbehonest we all do it).
The Wedge at the end of the beach is also a prime spot for surfing and bodyboarding. But, it’s also equally as well-loved by sharks so take care and keep an ear out for warnings of lurgies.
Lookout Beach (Blue Flag)
Back in the day, my dad says this was the beach to go to. In the past, this would frequently come up in conversation, as we marveled over the fact that the beach had been washed away in its entirety due to devastating floods in 2007. In recent years, however, the beach has fully revived itself. Diehard fans who enjoyed Lookout in the past are able to sunbathe and swim here once again, bringing with them a trickle of newbies looking to enjoy a slightly less frenetic beach experience.
This summer, Lookout has been my favourite for an ocean swim. I’ve been known to drag family members here even on overcast days to have a dip. And, it’s quite common to see that same large dolphin pod you spotted on Keurboomstrand passing through here, playfully showing off and jumping in the waves.
Solar Beach on Robberg
As sort-of locals, we often refer to this beach as “Sanctuary”, a fitting name for a beach as tranquil as this. It’s located on the loooooong stretch of sand that is Robberg, which spans between the nature reserve of the same name and the iconic Beacon Island hotel. Sanctuary is on the reserve side of the popular Robberg 5 beach, and is slightly less busy (always a plus in my opinion). However, this also means that there aren’t always lifeguards on duty in this particular spot.
Nearby is the Wreck (the remains of the MHV Athina, a fishing trawler that sank in 1967), a popular spot for divers, surfers and sharks alike (particularly of the Great White and Hammerhead variety). The water here is often super clear, which not only makes for great visibility diving-wise, but also excellent underwater photo opportunities (because #DoYouEvenMermaid?).
Nature’s Valley (Blue Flag)
This secluded beach is, as its name might suggest, surrounded by nature in all its abundant and pristine glory. In Plett terms, it’s “far” from the centre of town and feels like it – which, of course, is crucial to its appeal. The 30-minute drive takes you down a steep pass that winds through an ancient, lush rain forest before depositing you at a wide stretch of bright white sand. Walk to the far end of the main beach at low tide and you should find a hidden spot (ideal for picnics) tucked behind a wall of jagged rock covered in mussels and barnacles. Speaking of picnics, stop at the Nature’s Way Farm Stall on your way to stock up on snacks and make friends with the cutest farm animals you ever did see.
I’ll admit the dark river water that gives the creek its name is just a smidge (okay, a lot) different from the regular sea water variety, and that it’s not for everyone. But, Whiskey Creek is a true Plett gem of the highest proportion and should be TOP PRIORITY when visiting Plett. Here, the Keurbooms River has carved is way between the mountains, topped with indigenous forest, as it flows towards the sea. We head up river by boat, through the busy Keurbooms River ski-zone, until we reach a bright-orange buoy signalling that we need to cut our speed and continue slowly upstream. Here you’ll find one of Whiskey Creek’s most popular beaches, complete with braai (or BBQ) and bathroom facilities and, just opposite, a cliff from which to jump into the deep and dark river water down below.
We generally park off at one of the beaches further up river, set up our mini-braai and spend the afternoon wallowing in the warm water, eating an elegant sufficiency of chips and boerie rolls, and marvelling at our own little, little-known paradise up the creek.
Hope you enjoyed this post and are feeling inspired to add Plettenberg Bay to your 2018 Travel Bucket List.
Until next time.xx