The idea of 'disappearing' and just being far away from family and friends on my birthday, came at a perfect time. Here's the 411 folks: It's not them, it's me - excuse the use of an old and tired cliché.
I've never been into the whole celebration, so the idea of a solo mini-weekend of adventuring along the West Coast - was more than a good idea!
Like with every place in the world that has its own unique personality, it's often the people of the area that add that special buzz to a destination. The West Coast, or Die Weskus - as the locals call it - is exactly that.
Home to seven towns such as Langebaan, Hopefield, Vredenburg, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Saldanha Bay and St Helena Bay - the peninsula is located a mere hour’s drive from Cape Town with a wealth of experiences for travellers to enjoy.
When in West Coast, do as the locals do
Imagine having a drink after a day of visiting some of the monumental places the region has to offer at a bar filled with all sorts of women's underwear hanging from the roof above you - yes, all sorts, from granny panties to the type that grannies refer to as strings or thongs.
This was a journey of adventure and discovery for sure, with each stop resembling some quaint movie scene shot abroad.
For most of the group, the small houses up on the hills of Saldanha resembled countries as far off as Greece, while the historic towns and fishing villages gave off a distinctive Mozambique feel.
It's uniqueness is also present in it being a seafood haven of note. Dinner times saw us visit some of the most creative hangouts, Wolfgat in Paternoster for example of some of unique eating experiences that await you.
Exploring the West side
ALSO SEE: West Coast fun: Upcoming events to make the most of your road trip
If you go don't miss an opportunity for the West Coast Oyster Growers to show you where the "magic happens".
Supplying some three million oysters per year from its farm in Saldanha Bay on the West Coast, this farm even exports fresh oysters to countries as far as China.
But there's more to the region than just good food. It has a long, interesting history too.
There's a new tourism office in town
The history of Saldanha through its locals and building structures is going to be shared far and wide now thanks to the new tourism office that recently opened in June. Chairperson of Saldanha Bay Tourism, Vallerie Murphy has called for local communities along the West Coast to take part and help grow tourism in the areas through their unique experiences that "people don’t know existed in the region".
Speaking at the official launch and opening of West Coast tourism office on Friday, 30 June Murphy says for tourism in the region to grow and be better, the key element is to tap into the communities and showcase what the town has to offer, over and above the well-known attractions of the region.
“There's a lot more untapped experiences in the West Coast, apart from kite surfing and other great things, and we want tourist to see those experiences too,” says Murphy.
SEE: #TourismForAll: Saldanha Bay helps boost unique West Coast tourism offering
Langebaan Country Estate
The Langebaan Country Estate is a set magnificently next to the renowned West Coast National Park, intended to offer an exceptional living experience at all levels. It is also situated close to perhaps the most beautiful lagoon in Southern Africa. It is a special place, in a picturesque location, at the heart of the West Coast.
All units offer the same level of décor and style, and all are fully equipped with state-of-the-art kitchens, dining room and a variety of DSTV channels.
Contact: +27 (0)22 772 2112
Saldanha Protea Hotel
With fresh and contemporary decor that creates an atmosphere of space and light, Protea Hotel Saldanha Bay occupies a magnificent waterfront position and is only 90 minutes' drive from Cape Town.
Protea Hotel Saldanha Bay offers excellent accommodation on waters edge, with a choice of standard, family deluxe and suite accommodations.
This Hotel also boasts a cocktail bar and relaxing lounge with breathtaking views.
Contact: +27 22 714 1264
What to see
Offering a variety of items on display for antique lovers. The small but interesting museum is put together, for the most part, by the local tourism office, with the help of generous donations from the local community.
On display, you will find lovely period pieces of furniture, a beautiful piano, garments and linen, crockery, utensils and collectables from the region. A collection of old Irons adorn a shelf and antique radios make an interesting display.
Contact: +27 (0)22 723-1720
This successful family business started in 1954 when Derick Hugo became a Bee Keeper. Resettled in Hopefield, as creators and owners of Simply Bee, the mission is to not only cultivate awareness of the benefits of using natural beeswax products but to also aid in bee conservation.
Simply Bee’s products offer all natural handmade products, free from harmful chemicals, synthetic fragrances and parabens. Making it safe and environmentally friendly.
Contact: 022 723 0569
West Coast Fossil Park
The fossil site of Langebaanweg is located in the West Coast Fossil Park, approximately 150 km north of Cape Town and is world-renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved fossil faunal remains that date to 5.2 million years ago.
At this time many animals that are now extinct, such as saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and African bears roamed the west coast which then had a more subtropical climate with lush, riverine forests and open grasslands.
Contact: +27 (0)22 766 1606
What to do
Watersport in Langebaan
Known as “Jewel of the West Coast”, it's set on both a natural, saltwater lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, it's an unbeatable choice for water sports enthusiasts. On the edge of the West Coast National Park, just an hour and a half from Cape Town, Langebaan has white beaches, flat turquoise water, and cross shore winds that make it the ultimate playground for water lovers.
West Coast National Park
The West Coast National Park was established in 1985 with the aim of conserving the Langebaan Lagoon and surrounding landscapes, also including the islands in Saldanha Bay, and stretches from Yzerfontein to Langebaan.
The habitats in the park are varied, and it is of international and national importance in respect of both terrestrial and marine life.
The unique and diverse habitats of the Langebaan Lagoon and its salt marshes and wetlands, the granitic islands of Saldanha Bay with its large breeding populations of seabirds, the varied rocky and sandy shores of the coastal strip.
The area is also extremely rich in fossils and reported remains of human occupation in the park date back to the Holocene Age.
Contact: +27 22 772-2144/5
Where to eat
At this Paternoster restaurant, start off the meal sipping a glass of bubbly and nibbling the amuse-bouche of minced limpets poached in white wine and garlic, and served in a shell on a bed of snoek sout.
In the restaurant housed in a 130-year-old cottage on the historic Wolfgat cave overlooking the beach, diners can expect a lengthy food adventure that takes you through seven tasting courses showcasing indigenous ingredients specific to the West Coast, served by the chief himself, Kobus van der Merwe.
The bread course of homemade breadsticks, with a pan of hot bubbling farm butter infused with bokkums and seaweed, will have you scraping every last umami-packed morsel. These prepare your palate for the following seven courses, which are delicately seasoned to allow the flavour of the ingredients to shine through.
The Curry Bar
If there is one thing I like just as much as avoiding human contact via phone calls then it's spicy food. And if The Curry Bar was somewhere in the Cape Town CDB, there's a high possibility that lunchtimes would see me making my way there every day.
Those homemade wraps, spicy samosas and that homemade sweet chilli sauce - LIFE! And if that's not enough, the bunny chows sure do take the crown.
For some "Durban" vibes, The Curry Bar in Langebaan serves the best of curries on the Cape West Coast. Eat in or take away, this is your go-to eatery for authentic spiced dishes and the most loved curries prepared by true Durbanites.
Contact: 022 772 0595
The Windtown in-house restaurant, called ‘Breeze’ combines healthy and natural cuisine with local delicacies.
The restaurant distinguishes itself with dishes like springbok, ostrich and lobster. But you’re also very welcome to enjoy a quick bite like a hamburger.
+27 (0)22 772-1064