The route less traveled. West coast South Africa travel guide.
Unlike the famous garden route the West coast is still a journey off the beaten track in South Africa. Driving away from Cape Town you’ll see how everything changes; landscape, food, people and even their accent. Though the nothing is predominant in the area there are enough things to see and to experience. Travelling the West coast prepare to be surprised and see amazing things in the most unexpected places! My main impressions of the West coast are the endless sky and a feeling of absolute freedom! We hope our “West Coast South Africa travel guide” will help you to plan your trip and to discover this wonderful area.
Best season to travel the West Coast
Without doubt is springtime (August-September) when all the area especially the northern part (Namaqualand) transforms completely. Deserted the rest of the year prairies after spring rainfalls are covered with thousands of flowers converting the fields into a huge oriental carpet. We did our trip in January (mid summer) and still enjoyed it but definitely planning to come back in spring.
West coast South Africa travel guide
Cape Town – Langebaan, 126km, 1h30min.
Langebaan – a kite surfing Mekka of South Africa and a nice beach town with many guest houses and self catering places. We spent here four days and did an introduction kite surfing course that was the main reason we came here. Even if you are not planning to learn kite surfing here the town is worth of spending a couple of days; relaxing, swimming, driving around, visiting art galleries/national parks etc. For more details on Langebaan and kite-surfing check our article Kitesurfing – learning in Langebaan.
Langebaan – Jacobsbaai, 30km, 30min.
We spent two nights here one in a cool campsite/hostel Jacobsbaai backpackers and one in our friends’ house. Jacobsbaai Backpackers is a very nice place with a lovely garden, camping ZAR70/US$5 per person. It has all necessary facilities; kitchen (gas stove, plates, pots, utensils), hot showers, clean toilets, electricity, outlets etc. But the place has more to offer and definitely can surprise you nevertheless your age! A whole world of pixies and fairies with small houses, castles, tree giants and is hidden in the garden. When we were here it wasn’t finished yet but they promised it’d be ready by June 2017. Even if you don’t want to camp here it’s worth of coming especially if you travel with children.
The town itself is very small, quite and I’d say cute with cozy white houses, cliffs and a nice beach for walking. Our advice don’t eat in local restaurants they aren’t good rather drive to Langebaan or Paternoster or just buy food at a supermarket. The nearest SPAR is in Saldanha about 15min. drive.
We did day drives and visited all listed below places you can do the same or spend a night in every town.
Jacobsbaai – Paternoster, 30km, 30min.
On the way from Jacobsbaai to Paternoster there is Weskus mall with many different shops in case you need to do last-minute shopping or to stock your food supplies for the next days.
Paternoster is one more small town on the coast with quite a few nice restaurants and many small white fishermen houses for rent. It has very relaxed vibe, a wide sandy beach is nice for walking or running. You can stop here on the way up the coast or just do a day drive from Langebaan or Jacobsbaai. For seafood and fish lovers is highly recommended Voorstrandt restaurant; fresh seafood food, nice vibe, right on the beach with affordable prices. If you feel like pizza go to Blikkie Pizzeria. Don’t forget to check out the Panty bar at Paternoster hotel.
Paternoster – Tietiesbaai National park,
A national park on the coast between Paternoster and St.Elena bay. Most people come here to camp on weekends and holidays. Entrance fee ZAR19/$1,5 per person. Tietiesbaai rest camping (for up to six people) ZAR153/$12 (from November till Easter), ZAR104/$8 (rest of the year). Beautiful area with small beaches and quite cold water nice place to come for weekend with family and friends, to braai on the beach, read, relax and enjoy the nature. If we didn’t have friends to stay in Jacobsbaai we’d definitely come and camp here one night.
Tietiesbaai – St. Elena bay
The best of the bay is the light house at Shelly point inside the security complex to get in say at the gate you want to see the lighthouse. Usually there are several seals relaxing on the rocks at the point and some dassies running around the beach. The area is beautiful; white sand dunes, blue sea, rocks and cliffs, sea birds… I wouldn’t mind to have a house in the complex.
Jacobsbaai – 22 Waterfalls (Porterville)
Here we made a bit of a loop and went inland to see some waterfalls and chill down in hot springs. Something different from endless sandy beaches and small white towns. If you don’t have much time or just don’t feel like it from St.Elena you can keep driving up the coast to Elandsbaai.
22 waterfalls is a holiday farm/campsite (ZAR100/US$7,5 per person) with good facilities in a quite place far from the main road, the best thing about it is obviously the waterfalls. We didn’t regret about driving extra 100 or 200km from the coast to get here. For more info check our article 22 Waterfall a perfect getaway.
22 Waterfalls – the Baths Hot Springs (Citrusdal), 163km, 2h30min.
One more inland place we visited and really enjoyed. The Baths is a beautiful and absolutely safe place, hidden in the forest between the mountains and the orange plantations. It is built around hot springs, which are the main reason most people come here. There are different accommodation options; camping, caravan park, rooms and chalets.
Camping is ZAR100/$7,5 per person. Each spot has light, plugs and a tap, hot showers and toilets are walking distance. We liked spot N12 it’s more private. There is wi-fi at the reception you get 1Gb per day per person. There is a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and a small shop where you can buy cool drinks, snacks, wood, ice cream etc.
Hiking; 1-hour and 2-hour walks up the hills with panoramic views over the valley.
Swimming (more relaxing and floating); there are two big pools with hot and cold water behind the reception. We loved jumping from the cold one to the hot one and back! There are two more pools much smaller behind the chalets, uphill. Don’t forget to go for a nice night swim in the big hot pool and check the stars.
Jumping; there is a small trampling near the main pools.
Bird watching; if you are a bird lover it’s a place for you especially early mornings, the birds were all over our tent.
Mountain biking: a mountain bike trail near the entrance.
Warning! Don’t leave your stuff especially food unattended there are baboons in the area though in two days we didn’t see any.
The Bath – Elandsbaai – Lamberts Bay – Strandfontein – Vredendal, 249km, 5h30min.
From The Baths we went to Citrusdal to refill petrol and drove back to the coast. Some parts you drive on a bad dirt road so 4×4 is recommended. We didn’t drive straight to Vredendal but with some stops along the way.
The Bath – Elandsbaai, 111km, 2h30min.
Elandsbaai is famous for its perfect waves locals say the best waves in Western Cape so many surfers from Cape Town drive here on weekends. If you are a confident surfer (it’s not a good place for beginners) and have your board with you it’s worth to stop here to check it out.
5km before Lambert’s Bay on the Elandsbaai road there is a very special family run restaurant named Muisbosskerm which means . Seafood/fish buffet for 2-3 hours you eat as much as you can for ZAR250/$19 per person. Children pay less depending on their age. Make a phone call for booking before you go +27 (0)27 432 1017 as they prepare meals only if 15 people or more booked. The restaurant opened for lunch and dinner.
Elandsbaai – Lambert’s Bay, 25km, 25min.
A small town on the coast a nice stop on the way. The main attraction is a bird island at the harbor where you can see thousands of gannets and crowned cormorants. The admission is ZAR40/$3 per person it’s free if you have a Wild card.
We recommend to stop for a cup of coffee or lunch at Mad Hatter, a small restaurant at the entrance to the town near the information office. The whole interior is about Alice in Wonderland. By the way if you need some info on the area go to the info office they are very helpful and know the area quite well.
Just outside the town on the way to Strandfontein there is a wine farm “Kookfontein” where you can do wine tasting, their specialization is Sauvignon blanc. You’ll get a very personal approach here the lady-owner will do a tasting for you. Unfortunately she wasn’t there when we stopped but we met her dog a charming boerboel Kongo. It’s better to phone and arrange the tasting 082 456 4299 Theunette van Heerden.
Lambert’s Bay – Strandfontein, 63km, 1h30min.
After an hour drive on a gravel road (quite bad road) we arrived at Strandfontein. Right at the entrance there is an info office where you can inquire and book accommodation in the town. The place is very small with mostly rental houses and two campsites that didn’t look too impressive and were quite expensive from ZAR300/$23 for two people. There is a beach and a nice view over the cliffs not really much to do here.
Strandfontein – Vredendal, 50km, 1h.
We had to go to Vredendal for our windscreen replacement and we found a cheap camping here, ZAR50/$4 per person. The drive to Vredendal is quite nice with a couple of wine farms on the way where you can stop and do wine tasting. There is a mall here if you need to stock it’s a good place, check for the water refill shop.
Vredendal – Hondeklipbaai, 260km, 3h40min.
The drive to Hondeklipbaai was quite nice we saw some ostriches and gemsboks. The town was a bit of a disappointment, quite sad-looking small fisherman village with a lighthouse and two old ship wrecks. Not really worth of turning off from N7 and driving for more than an hour on a bad gravel road. Unless you want to experience a life style of a South African fisherman village in the middle of nowhere. Accommodation here is quite expensive the cheapest we could find was a caravan at Honnehokke resort for ZAR350/$27 for two.
Hondeklipbaai – Springbok, 152km, 2h30min.
Springbok was our last stop before crossing to Namibia. Springbok is the largest town in Namaqualand area and its flower capital. The place to be in August-September to enjoy millions of all kind of flowers covering the hills and fields of Namaqualand.
There are plenty of accommodation options here; hotels, guesthouses, self-catering and two campsites. We camped at Springbok Inn hotel, ZAR100/$7 pp. The camping is great spacious with good facilities (hot water shower, clean toilets, roof area for cooking and washing, electricity and outlets. We could sit inside the hotel area, use the swimming pool and wifi.
That was the end of our West Coast honeymoon trip and the beginning of our Namibia honeymoon adventure check our complete 30-day Namibia travel itinerary.
Tips for the west coast road trip
Take camping gear with you it’ll save you a lot of money. Accommodation is quite expensive and campsites are common in the area.
Prepare music for the trip you’ll have long days of driving and in some areas no radio stations are available.
The small towns look very quite and safe but always be aware don’t leave you stuff unattended and lock everything in the car.
Buy a local sim card (if you aren’t South African) you’ll need a phone to make bookings or inquire about places as well as for the internet wifi is not very common in the area.
Take at least one spare tire the gravel roads are can be quite bad you can get stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for the help.
Always make sure you have enough petrol to last till the next station.
Take a jerrycan though we never used ours you never know.
Bring 5L water bottles for drinking water. Tap water is ok for drinking but sometimes doesn’t taste nice. Bottled water is quite expensive. Some shops (SPAR) do water refill for about ZAR1,75 per liter.
Usefull Apps for self drive trip
- Maps.me for IPhone and Android – an offline map, you download a map for a country and use it offline for navigation.
- iOverlander for IPhone and Android – works offline, shows campsites in any selected area, we used it a lot in Namibia.
- WestCoastWay an app for IPhone and Android with a lot of info on the West coast.
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