The Garden Route is South Africa’s most famous road trip for good reason. This amazing 300 km stretch of coast between Mossel Bay and Storms River is packed with unreal coastline, magical forests and is an awesome playground for adventure lovers.
The seaside resort town Plettenberg Bay or ‘Plett’ is located close to the Stormsriver side of the Garden Route about 520km from Cape Town.
Surrounded by a beautiful mountain backdrop and indigenous forest, the town offers the best of nature, beaches, and coastline, along with excellent accommodation, dining, and amazing activities. Plettenberg is a must-include in your Garden Route itinerary.
Loved by foreign tourists and local holidaymakers, with nice hotels and blue flag beaches, this resort town is traditionally a bit of a playground for the rich and fancy. With a couple of backpacker’s hostels and a plethora of adventure activities in the surrounding jungle and forest, this beautiful town is an action-packed place that can be enjoyed by anyone.
Transport in South Africa
It is possible to get by bus or move around by taxi or Uber, but renting a car is definitely the easiest way to move around in South Africa. Rentacar South Africa compares the prices of all the most reputable car rental agencies. You can rent a car starting at about $20 per day for a medium car or as low as $10 per day for a small budget vehicle if you rent for a week! Pick up your vehicle in town or at the airport.
Garden Route Tour
Experience the best of what the Garden Route has to offer with this top-rated, well priced 5-day tour. I have run into this company several times on the garden route and know some of the current guides, these guys always have an awesome time! My advice is always read reviews of those that did this tour, check it out here – Garden Route Road Trip
Things to do in Plettenberg Bay
The rocky headland of Robberg, the marine reserve stretching around the peninsula and the hidden valleys of The Crags creates some of the most exciting and beautiful terrain for an array of activities to get your adrenaline pumping!
Canyoning Plettenberg Bay – Africanyon
We had so much fun exploring the river in the hidden valleys of The Crags just outside Plet with AfriCanyon! This was a textbook day of canyoning in one of the most beautiful locations you can imagine.
What is Canyoning or Kloofing?
Canyoning is a sport of travelling down a river situated in a canyon by a variety of means including scrambling, floating, swimming and abseiling, in South Africa it is called “kloofing’.
In our full day adventure we navigated through the river shallows in every possible awesome way, jumping of rocks, zip-lining, swimming through mountain pools and abseiling in and around waterfalls. Our professional and experienced guides made sure it was a fun and safe experience.
Who would enjoy the AfriCanyon experience?
This fun day is really for everybody. You can see safety is a priority for the well trained guides that prepare all equipment. It is not super hardcore, but it is exciting! the cliff jumps are 4 or maybe 5 meters high, there is abseiling down a waterfall and zip lining into a rock pool. The whole family can enjoy this day and children as young as 8 can go if river conditions allow, for children younger than 12 notify Africanyon when you make your booking.
- Short Cayon Trip – 2 hours, Standard Canyon Trip – 4 hours
- All equipment is provided (Abseil equipment, harness, wetsuit, helmet & lifejacket)
- Bring -Water shoes -old trainers are ok (this can be provided), swimming costume and towel
- Max per group is 8-10 (unless pre-arranged). Private group bookings are possible if arranged in advance
- Camera – you are allowed to bring a Go Pro or camera, remember you have to jump and swim with everything that you bring along!
- For R200 you can buy all the digital photos taken during the day, there were hundreds of photos taken on our trip of everybody with a shock/waterproof camera.
- Booking is essential
Read reviews, book or contact Africanyon for a canyoning adventure!
Seal Diving – Pro Dive Plett
Cape fur seals are often referred to as the ‘dogs of the ocean’. I thought this is very appropriate, since in thousands of dives these are by far the most playful and curious animals I have met underwater. Slow, clumsy and comical on land, it is a different story when these aquatic mammals jump into the water. In Plett you have the opportunity to be surrounded by plenty of these underwater acrobats while diving in a seal colony at the Robberg Nature Reserve. They were all around us, blowing and chasing bubbles and swimming right up to you!
- The Seal Colony is found on the Robberg Peninsula, a 10 minute boat ride from the dive centre.
- No interaction with wild animals can ever be guaranteed, but this is about as close as you can get, when the boat stops plenty of inquisitive seals jump in and swim closer to watch the divers a bit.
- It is a shallow dive (4-6m) and is suitable for all divers.
- The seals are friendly and inquisitive, they do however have teeth and if you provoke or harass them they are capable of injuring a diver – Look, don’t touch and you should be fine!
- The dive is only 20 minutes (what the permit allows), we found it to be enough time to sit and watch these entertaining animals.
The whole dive day was fantastic, Monique and the professional team of instructors and assistants at Pro Dive Plettenberg Bay were super friendly and helpful. We did the Robberg hike the day before and it was nice to ride this way on the boat, seeing the stunning coast from a different perspective. It looked like the seals were sitting on the rocks waiting for us, as we rolled back into the water from the boat they started jumping in to come and say hello. It was amazing to interact with these playful animals in their own environment. Diving with marine mammals is not an opportunity that we get everyday!
If you are not a qualified diver
No Problem if you have never dived before, you have two options:
- Snorkel with the seals or
- you can still dive with the seals by doing a PADI discover scuba diving course. This introduction course takes less than a day and involves some theory, a pool session to familiarize you with the gear and the seal dive with an instructor!
Swimming with Seals in Plettenberg Bay
The water is not too deep and there is a lot of playful inquisitive seals around, great for snorkeling!
Your group will depart by boat from Central Beach and includes a beach lunch. From the boat get in the water at Robberg Nature Reserve in a Marine Protected Area, home to approximately 6000 Cape fur seals.
A qualified dive master swims with you during about 30 minutes of animal interaction.
Includes snorkeling gear.
Booking and more details – Swimming with Seals
Do you want to see these amazing animals from up close without jumping into the water? Get on the seal boat and drive to Robberg Marine Protected Area to view a colony of 6,000 Cape fur seals. Take an exciting boat ride along the coast of South Africa
Watch as these playful animals interact in their natural habitat. Experienced guides on board will be able to answer all your questions and take great pictures of your experience.
Booking and more details – Seal Viewing
Robberg Nature Reserve Hike
We did not really know about a hiking trail at Robberg Nature Reserve. This spectacular hike with dramatic views of the beautiful coastal scenery was a great surprise. The whole trail hugs the coastline with the Tsitsikamma mountains in the distance, the fauna and flora, and the geological profiles are amazing. The scenery here reminds me a little bit of the one on the hiking trails at Cape Point National Park in Cape Town.
Over 100 species of birds can be seen from the trail. Dassies, seals, whales and dolphins are common sightings, you may be lucky enough to spot a great white shark, grysbok, duiker, bushbuck, Cape clawless otters and mongooses.
Robberg hiking trails
- There are three circular routes that you can choose from.
- the longest walk is to The Point – 11km (4 hours) this was the route we followed and was really beautiful
- the Witsand sand dune and down onto The Island – 4km (2 hours)
- the shortest option is to The Gap – 2km (45 minutes)
- The trail is not too tough, it has some ups and downs, but anyone of moderate fitness should complete even the longest route under 5 hours
- Remember – water (1.5L should be enough even on a hot day), suncream, a hat and a camera. Take it slow and enjoy the beauty of the ocean and the mountain!
Want to stay on the trail?
Book the incredible Fountain Shack right on the sea, it cannot be reached by vehicle and the route takes about two hours to walk.
Whale watching Plettenberg Bay
Experience the sight of whales in their natural environment on this 2-hour boat trip. Encounter a variety of ocean life such as dolphins, seals, and seabirds while exploring South Africa’s whale coastline, lucky trips sometimes even run into great white sharks. Plett is not the only place where you can see these beautiful giants Hermanus is another great spot for whale watching.
There are approximately 37 species of whales and dolphins found in South African waters of which humpback whales and southern right whales are the most commonly seen.
The bay in which Plettenberg Bay is located is ideal for the mating and calving of the Southern Right Whale. These amazing marine mammals can be seen on whale watching tours in Plettenberg Bay from 1 June to 30 November
Migratory humpback whales can also be seen in May and June and then again from about November to January.
Bottlenose dolphins can be seen on most days in large groups playing in the waves.
Humpback dolphins are also spotted from time to time in the bay, less frequently than bottlenoses.
Orca, (killer whales) are occasionally spotted in the bay.
Unfortunately, we ran out of time and did not make the whale watching excursion, but heard good things and read some excellent reviews online, definitely next time! Whale Watching Plett
Bloukrans Bungee jump
- Bungeeee! Definitely the most famous activity on the Garden Route, the Bloukrans Bungy is the worlds highest commercial bungy bridge. We became part of a very diverse crowd to have jumped of this bridge Kelly Slater, The Zuma Family, Bobby Skinstad and Prince Harry to name a few! We enjoyed the jump, it is quite exiting, I wish the free fall lasted longer than 3 seconds 🙂
- Most people are scared when jumping of a bridge that is over 200m high, you are not the only one.
- The crew is very professional, they have been operating since 1990 and still have a 100% safety record, the drive there is more dangerous than the jump.
- If you chicken out you don’t get your money back
- The Bloukrans bridge is located about 40km outside Plett.
- you are allowed to jump with your own Go Pro and take a camera on to the bridge
Campbell flying 🙂
Bloukrans bungy bookings
Flying from Bloukrans bridge is not cheap, but not too bad if you compare it with the price of famous jumps over the world. I paid more than R2000 to bungy at Vic Falls and the highest bungy in the world in China is over R5000! Bookings or more info here – Bloukrans Bungeeeee!
Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve
Unfortunately we have not been to this popular reserve yet. A smaller park like this will always have a less wild feel than big parks like Kruger or the closer Addo Elephant Park.
Experience the African bush during a 2-hour game drive trying to spot 4 Africa’s famous ‘Big 5’ including elephants, buffalo, rhinos and leopards. Some other species include antelope, giraffe, zebra, hippo, and crocodiles
I will recommend you read some reviews before booking.
Booking and more info Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve
Other activities in Plett
These were our favorite activities while staying in Plett, there are however plenty more to do!
- Other Scuba dives with Pro dive
- Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours
- Fat Biking
Accommodation in Plettenberg Bay
Accommodation in Plettenberg Bay is not cheap, we searched online, then drove all over Plett looking at backpacker options, you won’t find anything affordable on the beach.
On a budget
Nothando Backpackers Lodge – nice backpackers, friendly staff, loved the common area, secure parking. Can do all activities from here, knowledgeable staff will help you organize whatever you are planning, a tour desk and transport service to a number of adventure activities (e.g. Bloukrans bungee). Cool place to stay if you are travelling with children on a budget. Location central, but not very safe to walk at night (next to taxi rank). $15 (R180) for a bed in a dormitory, double room $41 (R480).
Anchorage Guest House – Highly rated, beautiful guesthouse, located in safe, quiet neighbourhood. Double room $65 (R750)
On honeymoon? Perfect location, 2 minutes walk to Robberg beach, real luxury, swimming pool, sauna, massage therapist. Watch whales and dolphins from your private balcony. Double room $246 (R2860)
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