Find your West Coast winter weekend escape (Photo: iStock)
The temperature is dropping, the skies are grey and filled with rain clouds - it’s winter time in the Western Cape of South Africa.
That should not mean that your travels should come to a halt. In fact, there are many options for the intrepid explorer to enjoy a winter adventure along the West Coast of South Africa.
Whether you're looking to enjoy some award-winning wine made in a ocean-facing factory, go hiking along the Crayfish Trail, eat an exorbitant amount of seafood or just laze around in Saldanha Bay, there are tons of great experiences just waiting along the West Coast.
So head up the Atlantic coast, we’ve got you covered to enjoy the best of the West for your next winter weekend escape.
No matter which route you take and no matter where you stop, you’re sure to see something of interest on a journey along the West Coast. One of the best ways to acquaint yourself with the area and the surrounds is to take a road trip referred to as the ‘West Coast Way’.
With 6 routes and 101 points to explore, this journey is sure to be filled with novel encounters at interesting and beautiful locations. Check out West Coast Way and plan ahead with some of their routes so you can get the most out of your West Coast winter weekend escape.
SEE: Explore these 3 forgotten West Coast dorpies
With so many locations for you to enjoy and a limited amount of time, you may find yourself struggling to figure out what to do. Fret not, as we have got you covered with some of the best ways to enjoy your West Coast winter weekend escape.
Check out Doringsbaai
A tiny fishing town with a difference, this oft-overlooked little dorpie offers a neat little surprise for travellers who arrive upon its salty shores.
With its own, unique little winery - Fryer's Cove - operating out of an old seafood packing factory set on a pier, this is a must-see stopover on any West Coast weekend escape. With a unique terroir, their wines are shaped and characterised by the unique topography - 800 metres from the icy, Atlantic ocean.
The salty flakes of the misty, ocean spray carry over into the complexity of the wines. If you need any more reason to check this place out, their Sauvignon Blanc is an award-winner. Be sure to make time to watch the sunset falling over the horizon.
SEE: Fryers Cove, a unique West Coast wine experience
Explore at Lambert's Bay
This tiny coastal hamlet is renowned as being the site of one of only six islands in the world that play host to a Cape gannet colony. It is also only one of three such islands in South Africa and Lambert's Bay is the only one where the island can be accessed on foot thanks to a link to the mainland.
This makes Lambert's Bay a worthy stop for travellers, especially bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts on a West Coast weekend escape.
WATCH: #WildlifeWednesday: The high-flying Cape Gannet
Play around in Papendorp
On the banks of the Olifants River is a tiny village where time seems to have slowed to a near-crawl. With salt-pans and unspoiled natural beauty, the rust-coloured landscape of Papendorp is host to a variety of fascinating life forms.
This place is a veritable bird-watching paradise, with an astounding variety (at least 183 species) of winged creatures making their home, and milling about in the area hoping for generous fishermen to share their catch. Spend some time here walking one of the many trails and enjoying the natural splendour and local hospitality of Papendorp.
GUIDE: Heritage hiking: 5 West Coast trails to check out
Stroll around Strandfontein
Waters abundant with mussels, crayfish and more make this small seaside dorpie a seafood-lover's paradise. If you want it even fresher, the beach at Strandfontein is a particularly great spot to catch your own meal.
Strandfontein, on the West Coast, is today a firm favourite for holidaymakers from all over the country with it's excellent Southern Right whale viewing opportunities and leisurely, seaside charm. Make your way just outside of the town and walk along beautiful coastal cliffs with sheer drops into the ocean.
WATCH: Heart-warming footage of West Coast National Park
Get some outdoor action
If you're looking for some outdoor action then you won't be disappointed with a variety of outdoor adventure opportunities on offer.
Check out the Viswater Mountain Bike trail in Strandtfontein for some adrenaline-pumping action that will take you to the edge - quite literally. Racing along sheer drops and cliffs with rough oceans to your side will either have you questioning your life choices or on the best endorphin high of your life. Make sure you go with experienced, knowledgeable riders if you do decide to take on the trails.
SEE: WATCH: How to go mountain biking on the West Coast
Enjoy a brew or two in Darling
Check out the Darling Winter Beer Festival for a fun time with brews, artisanal food and live music. Serving up more than just Darling Brew, visitors can expect to enjoy beers from Drifter Brewing Company, Black Eagle Brewing Co, Red Sky Brew, RIOT Beer, D’Cider, Yzer Bru Brewery and the Franschhoek Beer Co.
SEE: West Coast winter wildness at the Darling Winter Beer Festival
Unwind with a wine tour
Perhaps you’re looking to relax a bit and unwind with a glass or three of some good wine after a long day of exploration. If that sounds like you, then find your wine-soaked escape along the Olifants River. From Klawer to Lutzville, these riverside wineries and vineyards are a veritable treasure trove of wine experiences waiting to be had for the curious explorer.
As you take the N7, stop over at Klawer Cellars. With a sizeable selection of wines, there is a lot to enjoy here. Try out their African Ruby Vermouth which is made with rooibos and buchu, taking your palate on a truly South African journey.
If you’re still conscious, head up to Lutzville to enjoy the sweet wares of Lutzville Vineyards. With a selection of fruit-like, slightly spice pinotages at the ready for the winter, this makes for an excellent way to end off a fun-filled day (or days) of wine-tourism.
SEE: #FindYourEscape: Take a wine detour to the Olifants River
Where to eat:
The West Coast is famed for its legendary seafood and warm hospitality. No matter where you stop over, there are sure to be a few great places to fuel up, chill out and get stuffed.
West Coast's finest at Wolfgat
Paternoster, at this point, is synonymous with excellent seafood, particularly crayfish.
A particularly great place to grab a meal in the dorpie is Wolfgat. Offering more than just a place to have a meal, Wolfgat offers travellers a dining experience with a selection of location-specific, indigenous ingredients.
With a 7 course menu inspired by the surrounding landscape, this is an excellent space to enjoy West Coast cuisine at it’s finest. Make sure to book ahead as the space lends itself to a more intimate dining experience. You can find more information on the Wolfgat Facebook page.
Rustic, chilled and homely Isabella's
All that exploration and bird-watching in Lambert’s Bay sure can work up an appetite. If you’re feeling famished, head over to Isabella’s Restaurant and Coffee Shop at the Waterfront. With rustic, homely meals on offer, this is a laid-back place to chill and grab some fresh seafood dishes while you stare out into the distance.
Surf, turf and tranquility at Meeurots
Picturesque and oozing tranquillity, the seaside village of Yzerfontein is worth a visit for more than just one reason. A good reason to stopover on your West Coast weekend escape would be to enjoy the foods at Meeurots Restaurant. Relaxed and informal, this family-oriented restaurant offers delicious steaks as well as seafood dishes.
SEE: West Coast Crayfish Trail: Hike in comfort and meet the locals along the way