Plettenberg Bay is a pristine destination along South Africa’s Garden Route. Internationally recognized Blue Flag beaches, a spectacular combination of indigenous forests and mountains and bustling maritime life come together in a mixture of spectacular beauty.
The unexpected display of visiting Humpback, Southern Right and Bryde’s whales is complemented by the crisp and delicate flavourful notes from the region’s award-winning boutique wineries. Plett is South Africa’s smallest Wine of Origin (WOO) region and home to an abundance of marine life.
Early morning, depart for Plett’s iconic Robberg Nature Reserve, a Cape Nature treasure. The peninsula presents a magnificent opportunity to view whales, dolphin and Great White sharks as they follow the coastline and interact with the resident Cape Fur seal colony. Plett’s lighthouse is located here, and you can also explore Nelson’s Cave, an early human shelter: 125 000 years old which is also part of the Cradle of Human Culture.
During you walk you will pass a 17th Century Portuguese shipwreck. View at your own pace as you explore the many caves, dunes, trails and coastline of this nature reserve. The peninsula can be explored at your own pace or you may prefer the support of a qualified guide.
Enjoy lunch at Packwood Country Wine Estate in the Harkerville Forest by indulging in a platter of delicate cheeses, fresh greens and home-baked breads all prepared at this working dairy farm and wine estate. The farm is lush and offers a casual picnic-style atmosphere while sampling their large selection of award-winning wines.
Have lunch at Luka Vineyards, also in the Harkerville area. Enjoy beautiful platters, or perhaps try their signature roast chicken or one of the daily seasonal specialties while sipping their crisp, cool wines. And don’t leave without experiencing one of their magnificent desserts. You can combine this with a visit to view the magnificent elephants of the famed Knysna Elephant Park.
Stretch your legs with a walk from Central Beach to the Boundary Stone of the Dutch East Indian Company from the late 18th century, where Governor Baron von Plettenberg commissioned the Timber Shed, now a proclaimed National Monument. Meander across the road to the Old Rectory Hotel, a five-star hotel that remains virtually intact from the days of the Dutch East Indian Company. The front-of-house staff will take you through the building and its history. It is the perfect stop to kick-back, relax and take advantage of their intimate bar for a slow gin and tonic. Or maybe sit under the canopy of 150 year old trees on their spacious pool-side deck to enjoy a glass of Kay & Monty Vineyards house wine before heading back to your accommodation for a rest before supper.
Mid-morning, head down to Central Beach to experience a unique opportunity to enjoy close encounters with magnificent sea creatures on a guided boat tour with Ocean Blue Adventures or Offshore Adventures. Home to more than just our giant guests, the bay is also home to other sea life, such as dolphins, seals, penguins, and a variety of pelagic and other migratory birds including flamingos.
After you have finished a tour of the bay, head out of Plett towards ‘The Crags’ but first port of call will be to stretch your legs and visit the historic Old Nick Village, built in 1880 and still in operation today. It is home to Mungo Designs, one of the oldest weaving studios and businesses in South Africa. The Mungo Mill offers guided and self-guided tours. It is a showcase of weaving production from pre-industrial revolution to present day. Once you’ve toured the Mungo Mill, browse through the beautiful gardens and the boutique shops for a uniquely South African shopping experience.
Head out to explore the other side of the Plett Winelands. Here you may want to pop in for a tasting at a unique vineyard which also features olives and Honeybush tea, Lodestone Wine & Olives. End your wine tasting at the home of South Africa’s favorite Cap Classic bubbly, Newstead Vineyards. Lunch is served on the warm and inviting stoep complete with a cozy fireplace, warm blankets and a magnificent view of perfectly manicured vines and the occasional polo pony. Sip and swirl their delicate bubbles, award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay wines while enjoying the charcuterie, cheeses and spreads and delicious baked goods.
Start your day with some beach walking. Plett is home to 6 Blue Flag Beaches and amazing whale gazing spots from the comfort of your car, bicycle and even when you are hiking or strolling. Robberg 5 Beach is one of the most popular, both for its picturesque views and opportunities to whale watch from the sand dunes or even while you swim. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, take a walk from the Beacon Isle Resort all the way to Robberg Nature Reserve, a 10 kilometre round trip.
Lunch today is in the former 19th Century whaling station, the Beacon Isle Resort. The Beacon Isle famously worked as a whaling station and still houses the navigation beacon and other historical relics. Choose one of the three restaurants and enjoy lunch with an incredible view. This is also one of Plett’s best places to view dolphins, whales and other marine life that frequent the bay.
Head into town, grab a take-away coffee or ice cream and drive down to the Whale Tail viewpoint for the panoramic sight of Lookout Beach all the way to the Tsitsikamma Mountains. This is also a magnificent point to watch the pinkish orange sunrise peeking through the mountains for the early birds.
Plettenberg Bay’s Whale Season and the South African Sardine Run offers amazing opportunities to witness amazing marine migrations. It is best to plan your trip between May and October for this experience.