Posts Tagged ‘beach’

Hermanus 1

Hermanus was originally named Hermanuspieterfontein after an itinerant teacher from the 1830’s who grazed sheep near a fresh water spring in what is now Westcliff. Fishermen from Hawston started to settle here more than 150 years ago but the town gradually became known as a holiday resort and grew into the main coastal centre of the Overberg.

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I am going to do 2 posts on Hermanus as there is a lot to see and do there and I have taken a lot of photos which I hope you find interesting.

I first started going to Hermanus about 45 years ago and boy has it changed over the years in comparison to a place such as Arniston which is further east along the coast . In those days Hermanus and Arniston had the same kind of feel – holiday, fishing village, sea side places, although Hermanus was even then quite a bit larger than Arniston. Now days Hermanus is a bustling, much larger and more modern town and for me has lost much of the charm that still exists at Arniston.

View of the old harbour from Gearing Point.
View of the old harbour from Gearing’s Point.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

Monument housing the roll of honour for those from the area who perished in the 1st and 2nd World wars.

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Plaque for the Old Harbour which was for many years the centre of a thriving fishing industry.

Hermanus now has a vibrant tourism industry, boasts a large number of art galleries and restaurants and is, amongst others, home to an annual whale festival in September. From June to November, especially the area around the Old Harbour and Gearing’s Point offers excellent opportunities for watching whales which often come to within meters of the rocks.

Gearing's Point which is ideal for whale watching.
Gearing’s Point which is ideal spot for whale watching in season.

Unfortuneatly I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.
Unfortunately I was there at the wrong time of the year so this statue had to make do.

One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.
One of the stalls at the thriving open air market.

There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.
There are 3 museums in the Old Harbour area and 1 ticket gets you into all 3.

Another of the 3 museums.
Another of the 3 museums.

Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.
Part of a whale skeleton at the entrance to the Whale Museum.

You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.
You can hire this guy to give you a guided tour. It was a really hot day and business was slow so he was having a break.

Most of the action takes place around the Old Harbour area and that is where you find all the great restaurants, art galleries and curio shops that Hermanus is well known for.

Some great restaurants.
Some great restaurants.

Part of the main tourist area.
Part of the main tourist area.

There are also many hotels and B&B's in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.
There are also many hotels and B&B’s in the Old Harbour Area and many more in the older part of Hermanus.

As I said at the beginning of this post Hermanus is a really interesting place to visit and there is much to show and comment on. For this first part of my visit I have tried to cover what the average tourist would  get to see if they came for a 1 day visit and will show more in my next post.

Paradise & Onrus Caravan Parks.

In the Hermanus area there are 2 caravan parks, the one at Onrus and the one I stayed at Paradise Park  in Vermont. There was a great camping and caravan park in Hermanus,  I camped there many years ago, but it is no longer open to the public as it has been earmarked for a major development .

The main reason I ended up staying at Paradise Park was price. When I phoned around to check prices I discovered that Onrus Caravan Park, like Kleinmond & Palmiet, who all fall under the same municipality, wanted to charge me R240 per night which is just way over what I am prepared to pay. Fortunately Paradise said that they would charge R130 per night, which I think is still a bit high for 1 person per night. The highest price I paid on the West Coast was at Strandfontein, where I had a private ablution block and fabulous view of the sea, who charged me R85 p/n during the week and R125 p/n over weekends.

The biggest factor against Paradise Park is that it is close to the high way and is therefore a bit noisy at night but not unbearably so. It is, compared to the Onrus park, also quite far away from the beach area which did not bother me as they have a great pool there to cool off in.

Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km's from Hermanus
Paradise Park just off the R43 in Vermont about 10 km’s from Hermanus. No security at gate.

My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.
My set-up. Nice shaded area and the grass was fine.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park durring the day.

Had some great companionship as these two decided that my front stoep was the best place in the park .

The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.
The main ablution block which was pretty good. There was also a smaller block nearer to where I was parked but there was something wrong with the hot water in the showers.

The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.
The ablutions were kept clean and tidy. You also have your own key to get in and out for which you pay R50 which is refunded when you leave.

The pool and right next to it was a childrens play area.
The pool and right next to it was a children’s play area.

There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.
There are quite a number of full time residence in the park who have built there own cottages and pay a monthly levy. There was one very nice one up for sale for R350k and I was tempted but worried about the road noise.

There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.
There is also a shop which stocks all the basics and next to it a hall which was used for a wedding reception while I was there.

All in all I enjoyed my stay at Paradise Park and would definitely stay there again as it gives you a great base from which to go and explore the area.

Onrus Caravan Park.
Onrus Caravan Park. Good security entrance.

To be honest, apart from the price and also the now extended high season to end of April (which is crazy) there was not much wrong with the park and it is right on the shore line so maybe for a family of 4 to pay R240 p/n is not too bad. I still believe that the pricing structures of most parks are wrong in that they have a blanket charge for the site and don’t work on a charge per person p/n as  they do at Chapman’s Peak Caravan Park which works very well.

The ablution block looked clean and tidy.
One of the ablution blocks.

Clean and tidy.
Clean and tidy. I sometimes wonder who designs these things!!

The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear.
The most popular sites with a sea view were looking a bit the worse for wear which is understandable.

Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accesable via a gate.
Davies Pool which is directly in front of the park and is accessible via a gate.

I had a long chat to the manager who says that they realise that they have made a mistake with the pricing and extending the high season and that he hopes that by June this year the prices will have come down. For the mean time if you are only going for a weekend and feeling flush this looked a nice park to stay.

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.

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“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.

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.

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