Travel in South Africa – the West Coast

Mykonos, West Coast, South Africa
Mykonos, West Coast, South Africa | Source

The West Coast

It is a warm and misty day. We decide to explore the West Coast - a region north of Cape Town famed for its tranquil atmosphere and beautiful wild flowers from August to September -

West Coast, South Africa (the yellow colour) @ All Cape Accommodation
West Coast, South Africa (the yellow colour) @ All Cape Accommodation | Source

Languages spoken in the West Coast, South Africa

Town
Afrikaans
English
Xhosa
Other
Yzerfontein
71.5%
25.3%
1.2%
1.9%
Darling
85.4%
6.2%
5.7%
2.7%
Langebaan
76.2%
19.2%
1.3%
3.3%
Saldanha
70.3%
7.0%
19.6%
3.1%
Jacobsbaai
87.2%
11.8%
 
1.0%
Vredenburg
68.7%
5.0%
19.3%
7.1%
Paternoster
82.6%
5.7%
9.1%
1.0%
St Helena
68.9%
3.5%
25.7%
1.9%
Hopefield
94.2%
3.5%
 
2.3%
Wikipedia

Heading for the West Coast, South Africa

From Cape Town, driving north on route R27, we pass the Blouberg (blue mountain) suburbs of Cape Town –

  • Milnerton - where the Diep River (Deep River) enters the sea,
  • Table View - from where Table Mountain can be seen in all its glory.
  • Bloubergstrand – from where Robben Island, only 6.9 km (± 4 miles) to the west, can be seen. Robben Island was employed as a prison for political prisoners since the 17th century. Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in this prison.
  • Melkbosstrand - the most northern suburb of Cape Town, where the Battle of Blauwberg between the British and the Dutch happened on January 8, 1806. The suburb was named after the milk-bush plants that grow on the dunes – a species of Euphorbiaceae.

6 minutes after Melkbosstrand we pass Koeberg Nuclear Power Station - the only nuclear power station in Africa.

And now we find ourselves in the West Coast National Park. The stretched-out land seems to be semi-desert, like the Karoo, but the vegetation is unique West Coast Strandveld (beach veld) and Langebaan Fynbos/Thicket Mosaic.

"In the Fynbos Biome, Thickets are fascinating dynamic relics of a previous climate regime. It is a dense, woody, semi-succulent and thorny vegetation type with a mosaic of lower growing fine- and broad-leaved shrubs as well as dwarf succulents, herbs and grasses." ~conservation-guidelines/Thicket

Patches of wild flowers remind us that we have just missed the spectacular flower season that turns the western regions of South Africa annually from August to September into a wonderland.

Milnerton - View on Table Mountain @ Wikipedia
Milnerton - View on Table Mountain @ Wikipedia
Bloubergstrand - View on Table Mountain
Bloubergstrand - View on Table Mountain | Source
Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, South Africa
Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, South Africa | Source
Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, West Coast, South Africa
Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, West Coast, South Africa | Source
Wild flowers, West Coast, South Africa @ sanparks.co.za
Wild flowers, West Coast, South Africa @ sanparks.co.za | Source
Flower season at Darling, South Coast, South Africa (see source URL)
Flower season at Darling, South Coast, South Africa (see source URL) | Source

Heading for the West Coast Peninsula

Heading for the Cape West Coast Peninsula, we pass some of the tranquil towns that give this region its unique 'South Coast' character -

  • Darling – founded in 1853. See more of Darling HERE.
  • Yzerfontein (Iron Fountain) - a small harbour town with the longest uninterrupted sandy beach on the South African coastline.
  • Churchhaven with all its farmsteads situated in the strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Langebaan Lagoon.
  • Langebaan- on the eastern shore of the Langebaan Lagoon, this town is known as the water sport capital of the Western Cape. A fossil footprint called Eve's Footprint dated at ± 117 000 old, was discovered on the banks of the lagoon in 1995. The remains of Africa's only bear, along with the fossils of 200 other species, have also been discovered here. Read tonymac’s article about Eve’s footprints HERE.

The West Coast Peninsula

West Coast Peninsula, South Africa
West Coast Peninsula, South Africa | Source
Darling, West Coast, South Africa
Darling, West Coast, South Africa | Source
Yzerfontein, West Coast, South Africa @ Wikipedia
Yzerfontein, West Coast, South Africa @ Wikipedia
Churchhaven, West Coast, South Africa. Photographer: Rene Theron (see source of URL for more from Rene)
Churchhaven, West Coast, South Africa. Photographer: Rene Theron (see source of URL for more from Rene) | Source
Club Mykonos Resort at Langebaan
Club Mykonos Resort at Langebaan | Source

More about Darling, South Africa, and Evita's perron

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser MaritzDarling, South Africa © Marie Coetser MaritzDarling, South Africa © Marie Coetser MaritzDarling, South Africa © Marie Coetser MaritzDarling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz
Darling, South Africa © Marie Coetser Maritz

The Swartland

Turning inland to Darling, we enter a region known as The Swartland (Black Land), named after an indigenous plant, the Renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis).

Situated between mountain ranges, The Swartland produces wine, wheat, fruit, olives, and vegetables. The region is also synonymous with sheep farming.

We regret not having enough time to visit some wine cellars and olive farms on the Swartland wine route.

Piketberg, Swartland, South Africa @ sa-venues.com
Piketberg, Swartland, South Africa @ sa-venues.com
The Swartland Wine & Olive Route
The Swartland Wine & Olive Route | Source

Farm Stall on Route R27

Source

West Coast Peninsula, South Africa

  • Saldanha Bay – From Cape Town, Saldana is the first town in the Cape West Coast Peninsula. It has a natural harbor known as the largest and deepest exporting port of ore (iron) in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Jacobsbaai – a beautiful little fisherman’s paradise with a population of ± 420 people.
  • Vredenburg – (Peace Town) – Between the farms in the middle of the peninsula this town was established in 1875 as a church town serving members of the Dutch Reformed Church. The town was originally called Twisfontein (Fountain of Strife) due to the disputes between two farmers over the only freshwater spring in the area. The situation got worse and the name was changed to Prosesfontein "Lawsuit Spring". At this stage there was only one church in the region, situated in Hopefield - a bit too far for the local dominee (reverend) to maintain the peace appropriate among Christians. So the authorities decided to build a second church just a cat-spit away from the disputed spring. With a 'Man of God' (the reverend) in their midst, and the 'House of God' guarding the spring, the two farmers came to an agreement and promptly renamed the town to 'Vredenburg'.
  • Paternoster – (Latin for ‘Our Father’) - one of the oldest, and most attractive, fishing towns in the West Coast, hosting ± 1,883 inhabitants. Apparently the town derived its name from prayers of ship-wrecked Portuguese sailors. The color-emblem of Paternoster is white and blue with red as an optional decoration. Read more about Paternoster HERE. While taking a short cut on a dirt road, we discover a charming bar/restaurant created with canvas at the entrance of the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, where the last manned lighthouse in South Africa attracts tourists from from far and near. The Southern Right whales and dolphins roam the ocean in this region ten months of the year.
  • Britannia Bay & Shelly Point – New developments in the Cape West Coast Peninsula.
  • St. Helenaa major fishing town on the banks of the St. Helena Bay - the bay where the Portuguese explorer, Vasco da Gama, first set foot in South Africa on November 7, 1497.
  • Laaiklip & Velddrif – While Laaiplek (Loading Place) is another port in the St Helena Bay, Velddrif is right next door at the mouth of the Bergrivier (Mountain River).

Saldanha Bay - natural harbour and largest and deepest exporting port of ore (iron) in the Southern Hemisphere
Saldanha Bay - natural harbour and largest and deepest exporting port of ore (iron) in the Southern Hemisphere | Source
Jacobsbaai, West Coast, South Africa
Jacobsbaai, West Coast, South Africa | Source
Vredenburg, West Coast, South Africa
Vredenburg, West Coast, South Africa | Source
Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa
Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa | Source
White, blue and Red are obviously this town's colour-code - Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa
White, blue and Red are obviously this town's colour-code - Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa | Source
Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa
Paternoster, West Coast, South Africa | Source
A dirt road between farms, West Coast Peninsula, South Africa
A dirt road between farms, West Coast Peninsula, South Africa | Source
Corn fields, West Coast Peninsula, South Africa
Corn fields, West Coast Peninsula, South Africa | Source
A Bar/Restaurant and beach at the entrance of the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, West Coast Peninsula, South Africa
A Bar/Restaurant and beach at the entrance of the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, West Coast Peninsula, South Africa | Source
Cape Columbine Lighthouse
Cape Columbine Lighthouse | Source
Britannia Bay, West Coast, South Africa
Britannia Bay, West Coast, South Africa | Source
Shelly Point, West Coast, South Africa
Shelly Point, West Coast, South Africa | Source
St Helena, West Coast, South Africa
St Helena, West Coast, South Africa | Source

We have a late lunch on the banks of the Berg (mountain) River

Laaiklip Hotel, Velddrif, West Coast, South Africa @ sa-venues.com
Laaiklip Hotel, Velddrif, West Coast, South Africa @ sa-venues.com

Hopefield

On our way back to Cape Town we take a quick look at Hopefield, the oldest town in the West Coast originally established in 1844 as a Dutch Reformed congregation. Evidently it was a magnet to traders of all sorts and in 1852 the first residential stands were surveyed by Mr. Hope and Mr. Field. Situated on the banks of the Zoute River, this town was the capital of the West Coast until Route R27 became the main road between the coastal towns.

Human artefacts at the archaeological site near Hopefielf (Elandsfontein) prove the existence of humans in this region between 75 000 to 150 000 years ago.

Hopefield, Dutch Reformed Church, West Coast, South Africa
Hopefield, Dutch Reformed Church, West Coast, South Africa | Source

More picture tours of South Africa

I am presenting this picture tour of the Cape Province in phases. In order to enjoy the entire tour, the reader should start at Phase 1 -

Phase 1 - From the North West Province via Free State to Matjiesfontein in the Northern Cape.

Phase 2 - From Northern Cape (Matjiesfontein) to Western Cape (Strand)

Phase 3 - The Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch, wine tasting and strawberries (Western Cape)

Phase 4 - Cape-Peninsula (eastern side) Muizenberg to Cape Point

Phase 5 - Cape Peninsula (western side) Cape-Point-to-Sea-Point

Phase 6 – Cape Town

Phase 7 - This article - The West Coast, South Africa

© Martie Coetser

Published: October 2014

Updated: November 2015

More by this Author


Comments 34 comments

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 24 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Your photos are educational as well as beautifully entertaining. What a picturesque and gorgeous part of our world you've shared here. Lovely.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 24 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Martie,

Another awesome installment in this adventure series...the photography of the wild flowers and the sun rise at Green Point are especially lovely to me.

I enjoyed hearing the history behind such towns as 'Peace Town' and 'Our Father'.

How I would love to visit the Southern Right where whales and dolphins roam the ocean ten months of the year. Please add that to 'my itinerary', as well making time for the wine cellars and olive farms on the Swartland wine route (LOL)!

Voted UP and UABI and sharing. Love and hugs, mar


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 24 months ago from Asheville, NC

Just love these Hubs. I don't travel much these days but you take me right there. Thanks.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 24 months ago from Olympia, WA

Gorgeous scenery, Martie. This is one of my favorite series. Well done.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa Author

@ Peg - While travelling all around in SA when the opportunity present itself, and appreciating what I see as far as I go, I get an idea what true patriotism feels like. But then I can't help but know that the majority soldiers don't even see the beauty of their countries. Patriotism for them is but only a word they use to describe self-love, or even altruism, which is in fact also self-love. Something worth pondering! Thanks, Peg!

@ Dear marcoujor – We have a couple of areas around the coast line where the Southern Right Whale give birth. In adulthood these whales love to visit their birth place. They are enormous. From time to time one gets washed out on a beach, and most probably because he was too sick or old to stay up against a current. We are eating crayfish and prawns tonight, prepared by my significant other himself. Just to please me he promised to not serve them in their own shells.

While waiting for dinner, we can enjoy the sunset and some of the Swartland’s delicious wine.

:))))


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa Author

@ suziecat7 – so good to know you love my travel hubs :)

@ billybuc – I can clearly see you in this tranquil region, writing and taking long strolls on the beach once a day. The ocean has a miraculous way to keep people calm and peaceful.


Dave Lynch profile image

Dave Lynch 24 months ago from Port Elizabeth, South Africa

West Coast of S.A. is truly a beautiful area, I haven't been to the Western Cape for some time but enjoyed it when living in Cape Town.


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 24 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

You tell Mr B to set the table for three...Miss Buttinsky is boarding the jet now (LOL)...this meal sounds too good to miss and Mr B is a sweetheart for treating you so swell... !!!!!

Hugs to you both and have a sip and a taste for me, mar


m abdullah javed profile image

m abdullah javed 24 months ago

Your description of journey simply make us feel a roller coaster ride. Martie. Yet another fascinating explanation of South Africa's west coast region, narration is good and so are the photographs. Thanks for the share.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 24 months ago from Southern Illinois

Martie, your hub is not only beautiful, it is educational. I love the wild flowers and the sunrise photos. Thank you for sharing your picture tour. Take care, be well and have fun...


lyndapringle profile image

lyndapringle 24 months ago from Austin, Texas

Beautiful photographs. The ones of the beaches and oceans were especially peaceful. Thanks for sharing.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 24 months ago from Massachusetts, USA

Where do I begin? So many worlds in this amazing area of South Africa…from the modern suburb of Melkbosstrand to the idealic fisherman’s village of Jacobsbaai. Those photos of the wild flowers and the Swartland took my breath away. I have enjoyed this enlightening series, Martie. Thank you!


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 24 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

Thanks for sharing another very interesting installment in your series, Martie. You are giving us a great way to explore South Africa!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 24 months ago from Central Florida

Martie, the terrain is so diverse and beautiful. Even the waters sparkle with their unique hues. The rock formations are interesting as well.

I'm so glad the journey isn't over yet. I look forward to the next leg of the tour!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa Author

@ Dave Lynch – Nice to meet you. This is the 1st time I went all the way up to St Helena and Velddrif. I believe Aug.-Sept. is the West Coast’s major flower season. How lucky are those who can make it a Sunday-outing? Stay tune for the last two phases of our tour: Cape Town to PE to Colesberg.

@ marcoujor – You’re so funny! Miss Buttinsky.... your compliment will be given to Mr. B. He truly deserves it. Lots of hugs to you, Mar :)

@ m abdullah javed – I had to buy or burrow most of the photo’s in this hub, as it was a misty day and my own photo’s did not make the required standard. We plan to visit the region again in September 2015, and my camera will work overtime. Thanks for your inspiring comment :)

@ always exploring – I am so glad you enjoyed this one as well, Ruby. I hope this picture tour gives you awesome dreams.

@ lyndapringle – I envy those who can see the sea every day of their lives. Enjoying the view via photos is worse than 2nd best.

@ Genna East – I am so glad you are enjoying this picture tour. I wish I could bring you all down for a real one :)

@ AliciaC – Good to have you on the bus! Only two hubs left, then back home to look forward to another holiday :)

@ bravewarrior – Talking about unique hues - I don’t think one can see it in a picture: The texture of the Atlantic Ocean reminds me of crystal, while the Indian Ocean reminds me of velvet. The next hub will contain pictures of the Indian Ocean. Only two hubs left! Take care, dear Sha :)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 24 months ago from Phoenix, Arizona

This is an excellent series. Martie and much appreciated!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa Author

Thank you, WillStarr :)


DDE profile image

DDE 24 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hi Martie The photos are stunning! A beautiful place and so much I know of this place. Voted up, interesting, useful, beautiful.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa Author

Thank you, DDE! Next year we will visit this region in time for the flower season, and then I will replace all borrowed photos with my own :)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 24 months ago from England

Another wonderful installment Martie, those photos are beautiful! what a trip! thanks for sharing with us, such a lovely place!


Riana Botha 24 months ago

Brilliantly done!! Thanks for sharing...xx


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 24 months ago from South Africa Author

@ Nell - down here we envy all who are living near the ocean - the nearer the better.

@ Riana - thank you! Nice to see you in here. You lucky girl, living almost on the beach!


mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 23 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Martie. Your photo tours make your location look like a wonderful place to visit (but your essays tell us there is more wrong than right) You present the material so well and you infuse the writing with beauty.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 23 months ago from South Carolina

Hi Martie,

Wow!!! This is an absolutely stunning phototour and I can see why you would have wanted to be able to spend more time there. So much to see and do.

The wildflowers were most unexpected and beautiful.

Love this and am voting it up and sharing.

Sending Love, Hugs & Blessings,

Gail


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi, mckbirdbks - South Africa's beauty is settled in its Nature and in its law-abiding, generous, and hospitable people. The ugly lies in its greedy, corrupt and unwise politicians and their allies, and in cruel, barbaric criminals. The Western Cape has more of the beauty and less of the ugly. Good to have you on this tour. The next and second last phase to be published soon...


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa Author

Happyboomernurse - Besides the flowers, the tranquility of this region, and also the large lagoon - for water sports - are strong attractions. This time of the year, however, I think the inhabitants wish the holiday season will end rather sooner than later :) Hugs and blessings to you, too, my dear Gail :)


Juliet Stewart profile image

Juliet Stewart 23 months ago from San Antonio, TX.

Haven't yet read the Article, but I will! Just had to comment on the beautiful pictures first, and the Wildflowers, I'm in visual heaven!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa Author

Hi Juliet, I like your description - a visual heaven. Thank you :)


Juliet Stewart profile image

Juliet Stewart 23 months ago from San Antonio, TX.

You are welcome, I read your article, very well done Martie.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa Author

Thank you, Juliet :)


Nadine May profile image

Nadine May 23 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

You wrote a wonderful traveling article and the photos made your trip even more come to life. I was truly proud to journey with you in this way. We are both very blessed to live in this rainbow nation with all its diversities. Yes the Western Cape is especially a visual heaven. I will share this on several traveling Facebook fan pages. Awesome!


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 23 months ago from South Africa Author

Nadine May – Thank you! Your opinion means a lot to me, as you know our beautiful country just as well as I. Thank you so much for sharing. I think the pictures bring South Africa to its right. So sad that fraudulent leaders and heartless criminals are making a mockery of it. In the next phase – from Mossel Bay to Port Elizabeth - am going to insert a link to your hub about the The-spirit-of-the Tsitsikamma-forest.

Have a good day, Nadine!

BTW, I so envy the one who is going to live in that beautiful cottage you have advertised on FB. This is the time when I regret the fact that I still have to earn my bread and butter in the corporate world AND my time for applying for a new job is over. Got to keep what I have!


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 15 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

Came back to this evergreen and beautiful post...it virtually takes my breath away, dear Martie.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 15 months ago from South Africa Author

Dear marcoujor, thanks for the visit and your much-appreciated advice :)

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