Like much of South Africa the West Coast is just waiting to be explored. Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life the West Coast transports you to a world of endless sandy beaches and pretty villages. Summer days are long here and in Spring the landscape is transformed into a colourful sea of spring flowers. Typically the wildflowers will bloom from August to the end of September.
From Cape Town the best route to take is the R27 coastal route which takes you all the way up to Velddriff but the secret is to stop along the way at the numerous villages to really uncover the beauty of this part of South Africa. Although not as well trodden as the Garden Route the quality of accommodation along the West Coast is excellent with lots of self-catering establishments to choose from.
The two closest West Coast villages to Cape Town are Yzerfontein and Darling and are ideal for that last minute weekend break. Yzerfontein lies on the coast and has a harbour with launch facilities but best of all it has the amazing 16 Mile Beach. A good spot stop for lunch is at Beach Restaurant which overlooks 16 Mile Beach. They serve delicious seafood and some meat and vegetarian dishes and can be found on the corner of 9th and Main Road.
Afterwards take a stroll along the beach which is infact 19 miles long and not 16. Look out for Strandkombuis along the way. This is a sort of informal but upmarket restaurant which is a very popular venue for weddings. The outdoor setting, right on the beach is half covered by a Bedouin style tent and in the winter months they have open fires so it does make for quite a romantic setting.
Darling is a different prospect altogether. It lies inland and is a small village but with all the basic amenities you would need. If you are around the area in late September then check out the annual Darling Wildflower Show which is held on the 3rd weekend of September. The show has been running since 1917 and a great place to learn more about all the wildflowers that grow in this area as they have specimen tables detailing each plant that grows nearby. As well as the wine estates around Darling there are some very nice restaurants like Bistro Seven (7 Main Road, Darling. Tel: +27 (0)22 492 3626) and Brig’s Barn (Corner of Main Road and Van Der Stel Str. Tel: +27 (0)22 492 2451). Both restaurants have indoor and outdoor eating and offer good country cooking.
Langebaan is sometimes described as the ‘Jewel of the West Coast’ and it is not hard to see why. Situated overlooking a lagoon which is popular with watersport enthusiasts it’s a very popular holiday destination which is the reason you find places like Club Mykanos here. For families, Club Mykanos seems to have it all with restaurants and play areas and apartments serviced daily. For a more private holiday in Langebaan there are numerous and very luxurious villas to rent on a self-catering basis.
For a uniquely South African beach restaurant experience make your way to Die Strandloper seafood restaurant (Contact: +27 (0)83 227 7195). The seafood is ‘to die for’ and for this reason booking in advance is essential. The open air setting right of this restaurant, on the beachfront, overlooking the lagoon is a perfect way to spend a West Coast evening.
From Langebaan keep travelling north on the R27 to Velddriff and then head onwards to Lamberts Bay. 5km South of Lamberts Bay on the Elands Bay Road is one of the West Coast best seafood restaurants. The Muisbosskerm open air restaurant was voted in the ‘top ten sea views to dine for’ by no less than National Geographic and it’s not hard to see why. The seafood is fresh and straight from the sea and served baked, smoked or grilled. The uniqueness of this restaurant is exemplified by the fact that they are not open every day and only prepare meals once they have 15 or more people coming so phoning in advance to make a booking is essential. (Contact: +27 (0)27 432 1017)
The whole stretch of the West Coast is famed for its seafood and Lambert’s Bay hosts an annual Crayfish Festival or Kreefees Festival. The event is held over a three day weekend in March where you can sample delicious seafood, listen to live music and enjoy the delights of this picturesque fishing village. Lambert’s Bay is about a two and a half hour drive from Cape Town.