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Best things to do in Plettenberg Bay 2023

Plettenberg Bay or ‘Plett’ is a seaside resort town located on 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 awesome activities.

Plettenberg Bay ocean scenery
Robberg hike Plettenberg Bay

Loved by foreign tourists and local holidaymakers, with nice hotels and blue flag beaches, Plett 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 ocean, jungle, and forest, this beautiful town is an action-packed place that can be enjoyed by anyone. Stretch your Cape Town travel itinerary by going to Plettenberg Bay!

In this post we discuss some of the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay; from enjoying nature with incredible beaches, hiking, whale watching, wine tasting, and game reserves to adrenaline-pumping kloofing, diving with Cape Fur seals, and bungy jumping!

Popular Day Tours in Plettenberg Bay

Visit the Beach!

Plettenberg Bay is known for some of the most beautiful, pristine sandy beaches in South Africa. Plett has 20 kilometers of boasts with 6 blue flag beaches! We had many amazing times on the beach here; sunbathing, playing touch rugby, going on dive trips, and body boarding at the Wedge. Enjoy the natural habitat and natural beauty of the Garden route exploring the amazing sand dunes next to the refreshing waters of the Indian Ocean on the east coast of South Africa. These top-quality beaches are; Robberg 5, Lookout Beach, Keurboomstrand, The Dunes, The Singing Kettle, and Nature’s Valley. Blue Flag Beach is an international award given to high-quality beaches meeting certain criteria regarding the quality of bathing water, the sand, quality access, the presence of lifeguards, and more.  Dolphins, seals, and whales can often be seen playing from the untouched sandy beaches. Our favorite beaches in Plettenberg Bay are Central Beach, Look Out Beach, and Robberg Beach.

Central Beach (Main Beach) is known as the family beach. This is the beach in front of the famous Beacon Isle Hotel. Amenities include public toilets, restaurants, ice cream, kayaking, and boat-based whale-watching. Lifeguards are on duty year-round.

Go on a 2-hour guided sea kayak trip from Central Beach, suitable for beginners. You can see seals, bottlenose and humpback dolphins, whales (July – October), sea birds, and marine mammals. All year round.

Look Out Beach is a long pristine sandy beach, located close to the center of town that is very popular for surfing and body boarding. The lagoon links to the beach and is popular for SUP and kitesurfing. The iconic Deck Restaurant looks out over the beach and is great for sundowners.

Robberg Beach is a great beach for long walks. A long sandy beach (4 km) is located between the Beacon Isle Hotel and Robberg Resort. Dolphins, whales, and seals can often be seen behind the waves.

Go Hiking – Robberg Nature Reserve

The Robberg Nature Reserve trail is a spectacular route to hike with dramatic views of the beautiful coastal scenery not to miss! 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 that on the hiking trails at Cape Point National Park in Cape Town.

hiking robberg
Taking a break on the beautiful Robberg hiking trail.

This is the best place to spot a variety of local wildlife on foot with over 100 species of birds that 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 in under 5 hours
  • Remember –  water (1.5L should be enough even on a hot day), sun cream,  a hat, and a camera. Take it slow, this is the ideal place to enjoy the beauty of the ocean and the mountain!
    • Visiting Times: The Robberg Nature Reserve is open from 07:00 to 20:00 (1 Oct- 31 Apr) and 07:00 to 18:00 (1 May- 31 Sept) daily. 
beach hike robberg hike
Walking along the beach during the Robberg Hike is one of our favorite things to do in Plettenberg Bay.

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.

There are many amazing hiking trails on the Garden Route including the famous Otter Trail and the Outeniqua Trail, a hidden gem of the area.

Fountain shack robberg hike
Stay in the awesome ‘Fountain Shack’ on the Robberg trail. It will be hard to find accommodation with a more spectacular location anywhere in the world.

Whale watching Plettenberg Bay

Whale Watching Excursion 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 are on the Plettenberg Bay coast in May and June and then again from about November to January.

Bottlenose dolphins play in the Plett waves almost daily all year round.

Humpback dolphins are also spotted from time to time in the bay, less frequently than bottlenoses.

Orca, (killer whales) can occasionally spotted in the bay.

Bloukrans Bungee jump

Bookings or more info here – Bloukrans Bungee Jump!

Maybe the most famous activity on the Garden Route, the Bloukrans Bungy is the world’s highest commercial bungy bridge. Many famous people have jumped off this bridge including; Kelly Slater, The Zuma Family, Bobby Skinstad, and Prince Harry to name a few! We also loved jumping off Bloukrans Bridge!

  • 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 onto the bridge
Bungee jump Plettenberg bay
Campbell flying

Bloukrans bungy bookings

The Bloukrans Bridge bungee is not cheap, but not too bad if you compare it with the price of famous jumps all 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!

Go Canyoning in Plettenberg Bay – Africanyon

We had so much fun exploring the river in the hidden valleys of The Crags just outside Plett with AfriCanyon! This was a textbook day of canyoning in one of the most beautiful locations you can imagine.

Book or contact Africanyon for a canyoning adventure!

What is Canyoning or Kloofing?

Canyoning is a sport of traveling 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’.

africanyon kloofing day
Walking down the canyon on a ‘kloofing’ mission. The terrain in The Crags is spectacular!

In our full-day adventure, we navigated through the river shallows in every possible awesome way, jumping off 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, one of the most fun things to do in Plettenberg Bay. 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.

Africanyon jumping on our Garden Route trip
We had an amazing time canyoning with Africanyon. A fun activity that can really be enjoyed by everyone.

Details

  • 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!
  • 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

Seal interaction and viewing

A massive Seal Colony of about 6000 animals is found on the Robberg Peninsula, a 10-minute boat ride from Plett beach. Going to the seal colony you have the opportunity to see these playful and entertaining animals from up close. Either above the water from a boat or jump in and snorkel or Scuba dive with these amazing animals!

Scuba diving with Pro Dive in Plett we had an amazing time in the water with the seals and explored the marine life of the Garden Route. Under water they were all around us, blowing and chasing bubbles and swimming right up to you!

On a Seal Viewing Excursion go to the Seal Colony with an exciting boat trip, you can observe these wild animals lazing in the sun, swimming, and playing with each other, sometimes they swim up to the boat.

Go Snorkeling with the Seals! Jump in the water with a guide and swim for 30 minutes with these awesome marine mammals. 

  • The Seal Colony is found on the Robberg Peninsula, a 10-minute boat ride from the beach.
  • 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.
  • If you go swimming or diving 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, listen to your guides!
seal at Robberg
A playful seal coming to check us out – diving at Robberg Nature Reserve with Pro Dive.

If you like diving there are many great spots for diving in Cape Town including different options for diving with sharks.

Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve

Experience the African bush during a 2-hour game drive trying to spot 4 of Africa’s famous ‘Big 5’ including elephants, buffalo, rhinos, and leopards. Some other species include antelope, giraffe, zebra, hippo, and crocodiles

Booking and more info Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve for game drives

Visit the Plettenberg Bay Wildlife Sanctuaries

Book tickets for Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, or the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary

Plettenberg Bay is home to three amazing animal and wildlife sanctuaries that prioritize conservation and education. Birds of Eden was one of our favorite activities in Plettenberg Bay. Buying a combo ticket is a great saving for these awesome reserves. The combo tickets are valid for more than one day, so you can visit the reserves when best suits you. 

Monkeyland

Our one-year-old really enjoyed Monkeyland. The loud whooping bark or roar of the howler monkeys was really entertaining, everyone kept looking around for a massive ape. This is a free-roaming, multi-species sanctuary and is home to over 700 primates. The sanctuary aims to rehabilitate and set free previously caged primates.  Several species are free roaming in the main 12-hectare Monkeyland forest where you can go for a 1 hour guided tour.

Birds of Eden

This amazing bird sanctuary is the world’s largest free-flight aviary and houses more than 3,000 birds of 200 different species. The most amazing thing for me walking in Birds of Eden was all the Knysna Loeries flying around the perfect place to see these amazing birds in the heart of the garden route.  Enjoy the sanctuary at their own pace, species that include parrots, flamingos, robins, swans, weavers, and more.

Jukani Wildlife

Home to rescued predators and large cats including lions, tigers, leopards, and pumas in a well-run sanctuary. 

Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags, Plettenberg Bay

Visit the Elephant Sanctuary in The Crags for a fun experience learning about African elephants. You can walk hand and trunk with an elephant, see where they sleep, brush them down and see them swimming. Booking ahead is important for this experience. 

Go Wine Tasting in Plett

Did you know there is a recognized wine route on the famous Garden Route? The Plett wine route is the smallest in South Africa consisting of 18 wine farms. The Plettenberg Bay Wine Route stretches from the Garden of Eden (between Knysna and Plett) to The Crags in the east (on the way to Port Elizabeth). Plettenberg Bay is now recognized as one of South Africa’s “Wine of Origin” regions. If you are traveling through South Africa and you love wine don´t miss the excellent wine tasting in Cape Town or the world-famous Stellenbosch wine route. The first vines on the young Plettenberg Bay Wine Route were only planted in 2001 on Bramon Wine Estate. The area’s climate results in a product of excellent cooler-climate wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir varieties.

Visit Old Nick Village

This collection of designer shops in a garden setting outside Plett is a unique shopping experience. Old Nick Village is a fantastic art and crafts center hosting a variety of art galleries, studios, and shops. Old Nick Village is located in an original 19th-century Cape trading settlement. The beautiful gardens, with some resident peacocks and the occasional Vervet Monkey coming by, offer ceramics, fine art, textiles, and a variety of jewelry for sale. Enjoy the tea garden and restaurant with freshly baked scones.

Tstitsikamma National Park

For a fantastic day trip from Plett, you can visit Tsitsikamma National Park. A popular spot for adrenaline junkies, offering plenty of adventure activities, from hiking to kayaking to river tubing, bungee jumping, and bridge walks. A tree top canopy tour is a top rated activity in Tsitisikamma.  Located a short drive from Plettenberg Bay. This full-day Adventure tour to the beautiful Tsitsikamma National Park starts at Storms River and walks along the boardwalk edged into the side of the gorge, crossing the longest suspension bridge in South Africa. Go for a zip line cable swing over waterfalls and treetops.

Garden Route Tour

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 coastlines, and magical forests and is an awesome playground for adventure lovers.

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! – Garden Route Road Trip

More activities in Plett

These were our favorite activities while staying in Plett, there are however plenty more to do!

  • Skydiving
  • Other Scuba dives with Pro dive
  • Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours
  • Fat Biking

Accommodation in Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is quite pricey, but there are some amazing places with fantastic ocean views to stay..

On a budget

Nothando Backpackers Lodge – nice backpackers, friendly staff, loved the common area, secure parking. Can do all activities from here. We stayed here on a backpacking trip up the coast and really enjoyed it.

Medium budget

Ocean Watch Guest House – Highly rated, beautiful guesthouse, with great views of the ocean, located close to the beach

Luxury

Periwinkle Lodge Guest House

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.

How to Get to Plettenberg Bay

The closest airport is George Airport (GRJ) with frequent flights from Cape Town, it is about a 1h30 min drive from Plett. From Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay a road trip through the Garden Route is an awesome way of getting to Plettenberg Bay. This is a super fun away weekend from Cape Town that we have done several times. 

Renting a car is the easiest way to travel in South Africa Rentacar South Africa compares the prices of all the most reputable car rental agencies. Pick up your vehicle in town or at the airport.

Best Time to Visit Plettenberg Bay

Plett is a great destination to visit all year round. 

– Summer Nov to Feb. – The high season is definitely in Summer with amazing beach weather. Temperatures go above 35C so pack sunscreen. You can expect some rainy days in summer. During the school holidays in December and January Plett gets extremely busy and you must definitely book ahead. 

– The shoulder seasons, spring and autumn a great time to visit with fewer tourists and moderate temperatures.

– Winter (June to August) temperatures are not too bad, hovering around 20C during the day. Prepare for overcast and rainy days, it does get cold at night so pack some warm clothes. 

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