Vermont, Onrus & Sandbaai.

As one gets to the end of the R44 you get to a T-junction with the Bot River to Hermanus road the R43. You pass the fishing  villages of Church Haven and Hawston , which has long been the home of abalone fishermen. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to explore these two places and went straight on to Vermont.

Basically Vermont, Onrus and Sandbaai are upmarket suburbs of the major town in the area, Hermanus. Each place has its own character and I found Vermont to be best of the three. They all have one thing in common and that is they are all situated in Walker Bay and are great places, at the right time of year, for whale spotting and viewing.

Great coastal hiking trail that links the three places.
Great coastal hiking trail that links the three places.

Davies pool with Onrus in the background. The pool is dirctly in front of the Onrus Caravan Park.
Davies pool with Onrus in the background. The pool is directly in front of the Onrus Caravan Park.

A view of Vermont from the highest point I could find.
A view of Vermont from the highest point I could find.

Vermont is not only a residential town but is becoming increasingly popular for retirees.
Vermont is not only a residential town but is becoming increasingly popular as a retirement village with many security type estates.

Even though Hermanus is just 10 minutes away they also have a modern shopping centre.
Even though Hermanus is just 10 minutes away they also have a modern shopping centre.

The next place you come to as you head down the R43 towards Hermanus is Onrus. Actually the tree villages are linked and it is difficult to tell where one ends and the next one starts.

The Onrus River and lagoon are accesable next to the beach.
The Onrus River and lagoon are accessible next to the beach.

The beach at Onrus.
The beach at Onrus.

The safe lagoon area which is nex to the beach.
The safe lagoon area which is next to the beach. To be honest the swimming here was the best of the three areas.

The nnn at the beach.
The Beach Kiosk Bistro at the beach. Good place to stop for breakfast.

One of the good looking "sea side cottages".
One of the good looking “sea side cottages”.

I saw quite a few art galleries in Onrus.
The “Mission’s House Gallery. I saw quite a few art galleries in Onrus.

Te next place you get to just before you reach Hermanus is Sandbaai.
The last place you get to just before you reach Hermanus is Sandbaai.

Unfortuneatly there had been a massive sea so the beach was not looking it's best.
Unfortunately there had been a massive sea so the beach was not looking it’s best.

As with most sea side places I have visited there are some pretty big houses.
As with most sea side places I have visited there are some pretty big houses.

The bottom section of one of the older houses has been turned into a restaurant.
The bottom section of one of the older houses has been turned into a restaurant called Bamboo Beach.

Also discovered that Sandbaai has it's own private college calle Northcliff House.
Also discovered that Sandbaai has it’s own private college called Northcliff House.

At the junction of the R43 where one turns right to go down to Sandbaai there is an intriguing shopping village on the left which is well worth exploring. There are art galleries, restaurants, an interior design studio and a wine village shop where all of the local wines can be purchased .

Hemel en Aarde

Hemel en Aarde Shopping Village.

Intersting use of old wine barrels.
Interesting use of old wine barrels.

There are a few wine shops here and you can also go for tastings at the

There are a quite few wine shops here and you can also go for tastings at the Whalehaven Winery.

There really is a lot to see and experience in the three villages  so try and make a day of it – have breakfast, go swimming, look through the art galleries, have lunch,  taste and buy a few bottles of the local wines (some of them are excellent) and just have a wonderfully relaxing day.

Kleinmond.

The last of the 4 sea-side villages along the R44 , after Betty’s Bay, is Kleinmod which lies on a lagoon at the small mouth – hence the name – of the Botriver on a narrow strip of land hugged on the one side by the Palmiet Mountain range and on the other by the Atlantic Ocean.  Despite its beauty and relative peacefulness, Kleinmond is the largest of the four coastal towns  and as such, serves as a commercial centre for the Hangklip-Kleinmond area. Traditionally a retirement village, the town comes alive during holiday season and is renowned for large numbers of crayfish (lobster) in summer and whale watching in winter.

As with the others it is also part of the UNESCO declared Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Kleinmond lies at the mouth of the Bot River Vlei, an important wetland, which has become home to a herd of feral horses that have adapted to life in the marshy conditions. They are occasionally spotted by visitors on walks or canoe trips in the estuary. All four villages are  famous for the annual visits of the Southern Right Whales and have a wide variety of bird life.

Just before you get to Kleinmond you cross over the Palmiet River. You can experience the river during both the low summer months and in winter when this friendly stream becomes a torrent of class 3+ white water. There are tour operators in the area and people with their own kayaks can explore the Palmiet and Bot Rivers lagoons,estuaries and vleis.

Harbour Road is the place to be.  There are wonderful small shops to explore, awesome galleries and craft stores and the seafood restaurants serve the freshest fish in town.

The
The Fishing Cat

The
Sunshine Trading.

cc
“Deliciously Different” looked like one of the more popular eating spots.

If you are into Sushi this is the place tp be.
If you are into Sushi this is the place tp be.

The shops and restaurants are situated just above the small harbour. There was quite a big sea running and I was fascinated by the foam caused by the sea action against the rocks.
The shops and restaurants are situated just above the small harbour. There was quite a big sea running and I was fascinated by the foam caused by the sea action against the rocks.

The house come in all shapes and sizes but I rather fancied this one which over looks the main beach and lagoon.
The houses come in all shapes and sizes but I rather fancied this one  overlooking the beach and lagoon.

Main Beach in Kleinmond.
Main Beach in Kleinmond.

The beach here, although not great for swimming, is perfect for fishing.
The beach here, although not great for swimming, is perfect for fishing.

The safe, cool waters of the lagoon.
The safe, cool waters of the lagoon which is next to the main beach.

Fishing from the rocks while the family enjoy themselves at the beach about 50 meters away.

Fishing from the rocks while the family enjoy themselves at the beach about 50 meters away.

There are also 2 caravan parks in the area, one at Palmiet River and the other just as one leaves the town on the left hand side. To be honest I would love to have spent more time (and money) in the area but I found their prices and new high season dates to be totally ridiculous. I know for a fact that sites at both parks were charged out at R75 per day last year are now charged at R240 plus R30 for electricity. That is crazy and I really hope that the municipality come to it’s senses soon as they, and the surrounding towns, are loosing a lot of tourist money.

The Arabella

The Arabella Country Estate

A few km’s outside of Kleinmond is the Arabella Country Estate which overlooks the largest natural lagoon in South Africa. Situated just 20 minutes away from Hermanus it has a variety of dining and entertainment options and the award winning 18 hole championship golf course which is rated as one of the best courses in the Western Cape.

Betty’s Bay.

Just a few km’s down the R44 from Pringle Bay is the village of Betty’s Bay which also lies in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Betty’s Bay is a picturesque seaside village situated along the scenic Clarence Drive Route (R44).  The pretty town is positioned in a narrow strip of land between the Kogelberg Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, and bordered by fresh water lakes and the Palmiet River.

This part of the world is considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom due to the exceptional examples of fynbos and has largely remained unspoilt and isolated. Although the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest of the world’s six plant kingdoms, it nevertheless has the 2nd largest diversity. The reserve stretches along the coast from Gordon’s Bay through to the town of Kleinmond and inland from the farms of the Elgin Basin through to Grabouw – a total of some 100,000 ha.

Harold
Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens.

Harold Porter Gardens.
Harold Porter Gardens.

The botanical garden of Harold Porter, which stretches from the mountain-top down to the sea, is known as ‘little Kirstenbosch’ and contains some of the best examples of local fynbos, including proteas, restios and over 50 species of ericas.

Because I was trying to cover so much in 1 day I did not have a chance to go in to the gardens and have a walk around. I have been there on 3 or 4 other occasions and it is really worth the time and effort to spend a few hours there and if fit enough take a hike up to the waterfall and pool. Truly beautiful.

My next visit was to take a drive down to Stony Point and have a look at the African Penguin  colony which I had not seen before.

Info on Stony Point Penguins.
Info on Stony Point Penguins.

The penguin colony at Stony Point is one of four mainland colonies in South Africa and declared a municipal nature reserve in July 2002.The best time of day to view them is in the late afternoon, when the penguins return from fishing.

Stony Point.
Stony Point.

They have built a viewing walk way to make it easier to view the penguins.
They have built a viewing walk way to make it easier to view the penguins.
A few of the over 4,000 African Pnguins at Stony Point.
A few of the over 4,000 African Penguins at Stony Point.

It was a hot day so some were taking advantage of the the water showers provided for them to keep cool.
It was a hot day so some were taking advantage of the the water showers provided for them to keep cool.

The old concrete tower that housed the light to guide the boats into Stony Pint Harbour.
The old concrete tower that housed the light to guide the boats into Stony Point Harbour.

All that is left of the "Una" which was built in 1890 and was scuttled here to form part of the jetty.
All that is left of the “Una” which was built in 1890 and was scuttled here to form part of the jetty.

There is also a Cafe come restaurant come meuseum come art gallery at Stoney Point and well worth a visit.
There is also a café come restaurant come museum come art gallery at Stony Point and well worth a visit.

Fritz Von Wustenhoff who owns the Southern Cross Cafe is a mine of information about the area.

Fritz Von Wustenhoff who owns the Southern Cross Café is a mine of information about the area.

ccccccc

There are some pretty sizeable houses along the road at Betty's Bay

One of quite a few galleries that I spotted.

One of quite a few gallery's that I spotted.

As I said of Pringle Bay I just wish I had had more time to explore  as I know that there are some beautiful beaches and many guest houses in the area.

Silver Sands and Hangklip dunes lie to the west of Stony Point offering a beach of over four kilometres and great kite surfing opportunities. The beach is also good for picnics, swimming and surfing. Jock’s Bay and Shelly Beach, close to the Harold Porter garden, offer the younger generation better paddling and shell collecting opportunities

Pringle Bay.

The first village from Rooi Els on the R44, in the Cape Hangklip area, is Pringle Bay. ( From what I was told Hangklip is not a place but an area and there is Groot Hangklip and Klein Hangklip.)

The villages of Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond share a common history from the ancient heritage of the early Bushmen and Hottentots, to a safe haven for smugglers in the 1800s, whalers in the early part of the 1900s before developing as holiday and retirement villages. There are now quite a lot of people that live and work there permanently (lucky people at that) as shop and restaurant owners, artists and of course estate agents. (I always marvel at the number of estate agents there are in all the small villages that I have been to.) The area is part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve which is an internationally acclaimed conservancy because of the incredible variety of plants found here: an estimated 1650 species of mainly fynbos. In 1998 it became the first UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserve in Southern Africa.

Welcome to Pringle Bay.
Welcome to Pringle Bay.

A copy of an airial photograph of Pringle Bay.

A copy of an aerial photograph of Pringle Bay. Not sure how long ago it was taken.

You ether build as close to the sea as you can or up the side of the mountain to experiance views like this one.
You ether build as close to the sea as you can or up the side of the mountain to experience views like this.
House with a view.
House with a view. It almost looks suspended from this angle.

If you drive through Pringle Bay and take the dirt road that used to go directly to Betty’s Bay you come to a T junction where the road has now been blocked off. There is a short but bad road that leads down to a spectacular beach. ( I am not kidding about the road as I saw 2 cars get stuck and have to be towed out.)

End of the road - turn right to the beach.
End of the road – turn right to the beach.
Stunning beach.
Stunning beach. There had been massive seas so there was a lot of kelp on all the beaches.

A short distance away, as one drives back to Pringle Bay, is the Hangklip Lighthouse which is about a 15 minute walk,  and the small harbour /  launching area for all the various types of recreational boats. The fishing, crayfishing, snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming at Pringle Bay is excellent and I saw many fish and crayfish being brought in on the boats.

Hangklip Lighthouse which is now 50 years old.
Hangklip Lighthouse which is now 50 years old.

An old reminder, near the harbour, to always respect the sea.
An old reminder, near the harbour, to always respect the sea.

Somebody was going to be dining well.
Somebody was going to be dining well.

After a hard days fishing always good to stop in for a cold one at the famous / infamous Hangklip Hotel.
After a hard days fishing always good to stop in for a cold one at the famous / infamous Hangklip Hotel.

The beautiful main beach at Pringle Bay. Unfortunately as stated previously there had been massive seas that week and the beach was covered with kelp.
The beautiful main beach at Pringle Bay. Unfortunately as stated previously there had been massive seas that week and the beach was covered with kelp.
As you can see there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore as well.
As you can see there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore.

When I did a post for McDougals Bay last year I took a photo of quite a strange looking house and mentioned I had seen something similar in Pringle Bay. Well here it is!
When I did a post for McDougals Bay last year I took a photo of quite a strange looking house and mentioned I had seen something similar in Pringle Bay. Well here it is!

I think Pringle Bay is a great place and would love to have spent more time there and at Betty’s Bay exploring. Unfortunately they, together with Kleinmond, fall under the Overstrand Municipality who have increased prices at the 2 local caravan parks to such an extent that I could not afford to stop over for even one night. At Palmiet Rivier Park and Kleinmond the price of a stand last year was R75 and now this year they have pushed it up to R240 plus you pay an extra R30 for electricity. (R900 pm for a 10 amp plug.)  Not only that but they have extended their High Season to now be 1st November to end of April.  Most places have December, January and Easter weekend as High Season. Maybe they don’t want campers and caravaners at their parks. Sure looked like it when I went to have a look – a combined total of about 400 sites and 5 people staying there.

Gordons Bay to Rooi Els

I can remember, years ago, when friends and I would take a Sunday drive out to Gordon’s Bay and drive the 20km stretch of road to Rooi Els and then along past Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay and have a braai (BBQ) along the way. It was beautiful then and remains beautiful today.

The first place to go to, as you leave Gordon’s Bay, is up the road to the Steenbras Dam Water Treatment Plant just for the incredible view one gets of False Bay. In the old days one could also drive to the dam itself but that is no longer permitted.

View of Gordon's Bay and surrounds from the Steenbras road.
View of Gordon’s Bay and surrounds from the Steenbras road.
Clarence Drive.
Clarence Drive.

I have travelled this road (R44) to Rooi Els many times but never new it was officially called Clarence Drive. I must  say that along with Chapmans Peak drive in Cape Town I rate this as one of the most beautiful drives I have been on in the Cape Province.

Stunning views.
Stunning views.

This coastline is very popular with rock anglers but is notorious  for the number of fishermen that have been washed off the rocks and drowned over the years.

One of the markers from 1901.
One of the markers from 1901.

“Die see het hom geneem”  (The sea took him)

One of the first places you come to on the drive is The Sundird Restaurant at the mouth of the Steendras River.
The Sunbird

One of the first places you come to on the drive is The Sunbird Restaurant and Pub at the mouth of the Steenbras River. There is also a guest lodge and self catering B&B.

Mouth of the Steenbras River.
Mouth of the Steenbras River.

I remember my folks telling me stories about  camping here when they were both students. There are also  challenging hiking trails in the area.

A view of Kogel Bay where there is a caravan park.
A view of Kogel Bay where there is a caravan park.

Kogel Bay Resort.

Kogel Bay Resort.

Is that not amazing?
Is that not amazing?

Just be aware that the Kogel Bay Park is pretty rough and ready. There is no electricity and the ablution blocks are not great. Also you can not just arrive on a Friday and book in. That all, including payment, has to be done in advance via fax or at the Strand Municipality. I am beginning to wonder if the Overberg and Overstrand Municipalities are trying to make it as difficult and as expensive as possible  to try and stop people camping? Very strange!

On of the ablution blocks.
One of the ablution blocks.

The hot water is heated by gas and as you can see there is a solar panel for some lighting.  I was told that unfortunately the light was not working.

Just a bit futher down the road is the Kogel Bay Day camp which has a great tidal pool.

Just a bit futher down the road is the Kogel Bay Day camp which has a great tidal pool.

There are 2 other day camps such as the one above, Sharks Bay and Klippis Baai, which are very popular for Sunday picnics and braai’s for the family.

The view from the R44 across the beach to Rooi Els.

The view from the R44 across the beach to Rooi Els.

Rooi Els.

Rooi Els.

I have friends who have a holiday house at Rooi Els where I stayed on a few occasions and it became one of my favourite places to go to for a break. It has not changed that much over the years – a few new shops – and there are only a certain number of houses that can be built there. If I remember correctly there are about 180 houses and only about 60 more that can be built there.

View of Rooi Els from the mountain side where some house have been built.

View of Rooi Els from the mountain side where some house have been built.

Clarence Drive (R44) is only about 20km’s long but it has some of the most beautiful views and scenery in the Cape Province and it is truly worth taking some time out and exploring all the stops along the way.