Cape Town - WESSA recently announced SA’s Blue Flag beaches for the 2016/2017 season and the Garden Route National Park (GRNP) proudly waves two Blue Flags.
The 2016/2017 list includes the Wilderness beach and Nature's Valley beach.
Blue Flag is an international annual accreditation, managed by WESSA, given to beaches that comply with legislation and regulation around safety, amenities, cleanliness, environmental information and environmental management.
Click here to see SA's full list of Blue Flag beaches, which also includes boats and marinas.
The release of the Blue Flag beaches list coincides with National Marine Week from 10th – 14th October 2016, aimed at raising awareness about the sea and marine life.
While authorities work at protecting the sea by minimizing population among other interventions, there is a need to do more to protect estuaries and their surrounding wetlands which are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea.
They are home to unique plants and animals which are vital for the reproduction of birds, fish, and other animal species. In fact, estuaries are known as ‘nurseries of the sea’ because they are ideal for fish to reproduce.
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SANParks suggest five small steps to help protect estuaries and ultimately the sea:
- Gardening and landscaping with indigenous plants. This reduces the need for watering and fertilizing gardens. Fertilizers can be harmful to the environment.
- Fish sustainably by practicing ‘catch and release’ to keep more fish alive in the sea.
- For environmentally friendly boating, observe posted speeds limits.Make sustainable sea food choices (http://wwfsassi.co.za/ )
- Become an ocean-friendly pet owner and walk dogs in demarcated areas and not where birds might be breeding.
- Leave the beach clean ‘what you bring in you collect philosophy
ALSO SEE: #MarineWeekSA: Do your bit for ocean conservation
Members of the public are encouraged to post messages and pictures to the Knysna Hope Spot Facebook page to help raise awareness about the significance of acting responsibly to protect the sea and marine life to ensure ecosystems stay intact
The Garden Route is a go-to destination for action and adventure and these two beach destinations provides just that!
1. Wilderness Beach
Wilderness Beach is a sight to behold as one descends on the pass between George and Wilderness. The beach stretches for miles and is met in the middle by the Touws River where it mouths into the ocean.
SEE: Garden Route secrets: 15 adventures to uncover
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Visitors to Wilderness are in for an adrenaline pumping treat. Further south from Wilderness' main beach is another local beach spot, Leentjies Klip, where visitors to the beach spend hours watching paragliders make their landings. Muster the courage, buckle up and view the beautiful coastline from above!
Apart from the crowd drawing beaches, holidaymakers enjoy rowing up the Touws River into Ebb & Flow Rest Camp in search of the secret waterfall. Park your canoe and complete the trek by foot.
2. Nature's Valley Beach
Nature's Valley has become well-known as the end destination of the popular Otter Hiking Trail, but this quiet, foresty town offers its own adventures to uncover.
ALSO SEE: Long hikes 101: Tips and trails to try in SA
The long beach stretch consists of eight separate beaches, of which Beach 4 is the main attraction. This spot is best for swimming as the seas surrounding it can be rather rough. From Beach 1, across from the town's only pub, a hiking route starts and leads south to the secret beach - Salt River Mouth. This rocky hike provides ample snorkelling opportunities and hikers are rewarded at the end when the River Mouth is reached.
To Nature's Valley's north, making your way to the Otter trail's end, another minuscule secret beach can be found. Make your way past the lagoon to the end of the beach and find a pathway leading into the woods. A short hike up a cliff leads you to the perfect spot to view sharks that occasionally make their way here. Also embrace the moment to view Nature's Valley from above - a magnificent view shared by Otter Trail hikers.
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