Forget the rest, this is my ultimate and best guide to the Cape West Coast – and the only reference you’ll need when exploring South Africa’s Cape West Coast. Going town by town, from Yzerfontein to Lutzville, my guide encompasses my suggested spots to visit – from restaurants to wine estates, accommodation, attractions and places of interest. While this guide will be a work in progress, with me adding to it as I experience more along this coastline, I do hope you’ll find my current compilation – 7 years in the making – to be a useful and insightful read.
Disclaimer: none of the places or businesses I’ve listed below have paid me to do so – everything featured I’ve done so at my own discretion, thus making my Best Guide to the Cape West Coast unfiltered and honest.
One of the first stops along the R27, Vygevallei is immediately recognisable for its retro Puma service station. Great for an early pitstop, the farmstall has a great selection of interesting preserves and a comprehensive wine shop. While Vygevallei is known for their roosterkoek, I did find these to be quite expensive for the quality – rather opt for a toasted sandwich instead.
Tel: 074 138 1610 / R27 West Coast Road
Located just before the Yzerfontein turn-off, !Khwa ttu is a celebration of indigenous art, history and culture. Home to a comprehensive showcase of both San and human origins in their Heritage Museum and Culture Centre, !Khwa ttu offers an enjoyably educational experience guided by a local San expert. Come for the culture, stay for the cuisine – Chef Werlise Rautenbach’s menu encompasses her passion for local produce, foraged ingredients and endemically South African fare. Make a weekend of your visit and stay in one of four kinds of accommodation offered by !Khwa ttu – from glamping to their tastefully furnished Bush House.
Tel: 022 492 2998 / email@example.com / R27 West Coast Road
A small family-run distillery, Wright’s Gin makes nine different varieties of this popular white spirit – with each version flavoured with everything from pomelo, watermelon, strawberry and their signature London Dry gin. Wright’s has a tasting room on the Yzerfontein road where visitors can enjoy guided tastings or sip on the distillery’s amazing cocktails. A good place to begin the weekend from!
Tel: 071 973 0358 / Yzervark complex, R315, Yzerfontein
Hannelie and Brett Nortier started Rosemead Artisan Bakery after swapping Stellenbosch for the West Coast. Both possessing a background in the culinary arts, the couple met over coffee and croissants – she as baker and he as barista in his aunt’s Kalk Bay bakery, Brett went to on bake bread at Schoon de Companje, with Hannelie working in the kitchens. Eager to escape the bustle of Stellenbosch, they started selling their bread from Beulah Farm Deli in 2015, moving to bigger premises within Yzerfontein soon after that. What with the popularity of Brett’s bread and Hannelie’s patisserie, Rosemead as a bakery and café was born, with visitors to the town and the rest of the West Coast frequently buying up sourdough, olive sticks, ciabatta and the bakery’s famed Pasteis de Nata.
On that note, be sure to always call, text or WhatsApp to place your bread order ahead of time – Rosemead’s goodies always sell out fast!
Tel: 066 222 5076 / Corner of Park and Volstruis Street, Yzerfontein
Take a right turn on to the Malmesbury road just before Darling and you’ll find yourself on a scenic drive past crumbling farmhouses, lily-laden fields and swathes of vineyards. It’s in the midst of this bucolic beauty that Darling Cellars’ has set up its estate and tasting room. Boasting big wines at small prices, Darling Cellars’ wide range encompasses their popular Reserve range as well as my favourite Heritage and Old Bush Vines collections. The tasting room also serves light lunches and has a small playground for the kids.
Tel: 022 492 2276 / Mamre Weg Station, R315, Darling
One of the oldest farms on the West Coast, Groote Post originally served as a trading post for sailors heading down to the Cape. Now a celebrated wine estate run by three generations of the Pentz family, Groote Post bottles West Coast flavour and their Seasalter Sauvignon Blanc has been lauded as the quintessential Weskus white. I’m extremely partial to their Kapokberg Chardonnay – a wonderfully wooded wine that is excellent with food. Pop in for a tasting and cheese platter or look out for Groote Post’s seasonal farmer’s market selling local produce, toys, biltong, cheeses and of course, wine.
Tel: 022 492 2825 / R27 onto Darling Hills road
Overlooking Darling, Ormonde offers a stylishly shaded tasting area from where I’ve spent many a languid afternoon over their excellent Old Block Sauvignon Blanc and generously laden cheeseboards. Enjoy watching the resident swans glide over the pond or set up a picnic on the beautiful lawns running down from the cellar.
Tel: 022 492 3540 / Mount Pleasant Street, Darling
A quaint little procurer of local cultivars, The Darling Wine Shop is a must-visit when in the area. Home to wines, craft gin, brandy and the like, the shop is well stocked with the produce of the surrounding estates as well as that from further afield – with most wines retailed at cellar door prices.
Tel: 022 492 3971 / 5 Main Street, Darling
The town’s resident Italian trattoria, Ciao Darling serves up delicious pizza and pasta from their charming Victorian house-turned-restaurant. Offering both inside and outside seating in their garden, Ciao Darling is a lovely spot to spend a sunny afternoon. Their woodfired pizzas are meticulously made from scratch and their ravioli is also a winner and what I order whenever I’m there.
Tel: 063 674 5822 / 10 van der Stel Street, Darling
The as yet unequalled grand dame of Darling, Evita se Perron is world-famous for the being the professional home of comedian Peter Dirk Uys and his glamorous alter ego Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout. The Perron recently changed hands and is now owned by Hentie van den Merwe and Frits van Ryneveld – the duo behind the deliciously successful Darling Sweet. Through them, the Perron boasts a revamped restaurant, cafe, museum and theatre in the selfsame boereshiek style that visitors have always loved. Drive up for their popular Sunday lunch set menu or take in a show by Pieter Dirk Uys himself – just remember that booking is essential.
Tel: 022 492 2102 / firstname.lastname@example.org / 8 Arcadia Street, Darling / Book here
A visit to this sweet small town museum is a wonderful way to spend an hour. Housing all manner of historical artifacts related to farming, transport, households and Darling itself, the collection is a celebration of a bygone era. The museum also has an antique shop where I’ve often found special treasures.
Tel: 022 492 3361 / 22 Pastorie Street, Darling
New kid on the block, Koffie My Darling is a treat to visit – from entry to exit. Owner Eben Blom and his partner have crafted a whimsical eatery decorated in all kinds of trinkets from yesteryear. The menu is simple and tempting, featuring home bakes, pies, toasties, burgers and an all-day breakfast. Definitely worth a visit if you’re feeling peckish!
Tel: 082 957 1234 / 4 High Street, Darling
The sweetest little lunch spot, The Marmalade Cat is my go-to for light café-style meals and their Friday night pizza evenings are very popular with the locals. The service can be rather slow, so go with time on your hands and have a browse through their shop while you wait.
Tel: 022 492 2515 / 19 Main Street, Darling
Look with the right kind of eyes and you could be in Greece. Famous for its warm, clear water, powdery white sand and swathes of wildflowers come August, West Coast National Park and specifically Kraalbaai and Churchhaven beaches are paradise on earth. Extremely popular and thus very busy over weekends and school holidays, it’s best to arrive early and stake your claim in the sand. For those wanting to make an overnight visit, SANParks also offers various accommodation within the reserve.
R27 West Coast Road, between the Yzerfontein and Langebaan turn-offs
With views stretching out over the lagoon, and the only interruption being the occasional guinea fowl chirruping through the fynbos, Slipway Cottage is as idyllic an accommodation as one can possibly find. Impossible to not remain glued to the stoep – sun-splashed and begging for salty snacks and cool white wine – the cottage caters for those with a love for quiet liberation. Peace reigns supreme here, and those looking to bring along rowdiness, music and song would be best advised to book elsewhere. Instead, Churchhaven appeals to the introvert – the birdwatchers, the readers, the thinkers – the lone beachcomber, leaving footprints in the powdery sand as the cool grey night gives way to a pearlescent dawn.
Tel: 078 533 6820 / email@example.com / Churchhaven, West Coast National Park / Book here
A little shop with a big personality, Vintage 2 Decor is a treasure trove for antiques and collectables. Located just off Langebaan’s bustling Bree Street, the shop looks on to a garden where owner Renée has opened a tea garden with a range of gourmet blends to sip and savour.
Tel: 076 374 4091 / 8 Bree St, Langebaan
Part accommodation, part memory cache, The Farmhouse Hotel displays its history for all to see. Housed in original buildings dating back to 1860, the hotel started life as a Cape Dutch farmstead before becoming the popular Panorama Hotel. Under new ownership from 1992, the hotel was carefully restored and now offers a boutique experience that combines Weskus hospitality with historical allure. Breakfast at La Petite Maison is included in the room rate, as is afternoon tea and scones in the sunlit parlour overlooking the Langebaan lagoon. A sunset cocktail in the hotel’s famed bar is a must – take in the memorabilia (which includes a dolphin skeleton, restoration images of the hotel and a couple of cheeky Scope magazine covers) over a retro-fabulous strawberry daiquiri.
Tel: 022 772 2062 / firstname.lastname@example.org / 5 Egret St, Myburgh Park, Langebaan / Book here
Helmed by Michelin-starred Chef Yohann Suire and his wife LaRetha Venter, La Petite Maison is culinary collaboration that pairs West Coast ingredients with French execution – think classic Mouclade made with mussels sourced in neighbouring Saldanha Bay. Located in the historic Farmhouse Hotel in Langebaan, La Petite Maison is as much an experience to look at as it is to sample their menu. A sprawling verandah overlooks the lagoon, while inside a double volume space replete with fireplace and thatched eaves offers respite on cold winter evenings. The restaurant also has a small deli within the hotel that serves up tea, cakes and their famous homemade scones.
Tel: 064 657 7716 / email@example.com / The Farmhouse Hotel, 5 Egret St, Myburgh Park, Langebaan / Book here
Easily one of the best barbecue restaurants I’ve EVER dined at, Owner/Chef Anthony and the magic he creates at his eatery should put him right up there with the greats. Think house-made sourdough, grilled panzanella, lamb tails, homemade sausage, Angus florentine, smoked cabbage and the like on his chalkboard menu. The small wine list offers only red. As it should in a steak joint of this calibre.
The (dinosaur-sized) starter of roasted bone marrow with a parsley salad and sourdough is a highlight, as is the meltingly tender pork rib, basted in peach BBQ sauce (again homemade) and covered in the best bark I’ve seen this side of Street Food. Eschew the shiny seaside restaurants serving the pizza/burger/curry/sushi/all on one menu crowd and rather opt for this little eatery offering big flavour. Proof once more that a view does not equal good food. In the case of Queens Cottage, you’ll be too immersed in your dinner to care about sweeping vistas and ocean proximity.
Tel: 079 830 7235 / Queens Cottage, 8 Suffren St, Langebaan
Located on the further side of Langebaan, The Shark Bay Hotel & Spa is ideal for travellers wanting to avoid the bustle of central Langebaan. And what with sweeping views over the lagoon and a comprehensive cocktail menu, one doesn’t feel the need to venture far. While the hotel itself houses a spa, conference space, restaurant and wine cellar, The Shark Bay also owns three self-catering villas in the area – a great option to book for bigger groups or family holidays.
Tel: 080 000 8710 / firstname.lastname@example.org / 8 Grysbok Close, Langebaan / Book here
A Langebaan institution, Kokomo is a casual knees-up eatery specialising in crowd-pleasing food and generous portions. Head over for their happy hour cocktail specials and stay for the chicken livers, pizza or burgers.
Tel: 022 772 1600 / 121 Main St, Langebaan Country Estate, Langebaan
Roughly 5 million years ago, the Langebaan we know today looked very different. Abundant in water, the area around Langebaanweg was subtropical, lush and fertile, and teeming with creatures like the saber-toothed cat, African bear and Sivathere or short-necked giraffe. The fossilized remains of these animals and many more can be seen at the site of an ongoing excavation at West Coast Fossil Park. Great for all ages, the park features a museum, interactive exhibitions as well as a guided tour to the dig sites.
Tel: 022 766 1606 / Langebaanweg, inland from the R27 Langebaan turnoff
Comprising of a seafood shop, fish & chips takeaway and flame grill, Charlie’s really is a feast for the senses – I always recommend taking along a large shopping bag and an even larger appetite when visiting. Fresh fish like maasbanker, red roman, lagoon harders, mussels and oysters are fresh on Tuesdays and Fridays whilst frozen delicacies like prawns, squid and kippers are always readily available. Charlie’s homemade smoked angelfish, mackerel and snoek are famed, and one can’t leave without stocking up on a few pieces for salads or pâté. While this is my favourite spot to source fresh and frozen seafood, no visit to Charlie’s can be without one of their epic flame-grilled beef burgers. Strange as this is a seafood shop but trust me, their beef and chicken burgers are hands-down some of the best I’ve sampled yet. The snoek samoosas at the chippie next door are also amazing. It’s this variety plus great value for money that means most of Saldanha’s locals eat here. And you know what they say about eating like the locals – one is rarely disappointed!
Tel: 022 714 0329 / 69 Main Road, Saldanha
My go-to spot for when the cake craving hits, this bakery and coffee shop cooks up tempting treats on a daily basis. Famous for their varied selection of cupcakes, Cup of Cake also makes occasion cakes on order as well as sandwiches, sweets and preserves. I’m partial to their lemon meringue and carrot cake and always make a point of stopping by when in the area.
Tel: 022 714 0696 / 37 Main Road, Saldanha
A beach holiday in Saldanha Bay? Absolutely – if you stay at Blue Bay Lodge. Right on the water in a quieter part of this industrious town, the lodge offers guests direct access to the azure waters of the lagoon. From here, I’ve enjoyed some of the most beautiful sunsets on the West Coast as the angle of the bay means pearlescent pink skies at dusk. Blue Bay Lodge also has an elegant bar and restaurant and doubles as a wedding venue for those wanting to tie the knot with the ocean as their backdrop.
Tel: 022 714 1179 / email@example.com / 48 Gracillaria Cresent, Blouwater Bay, Saldanha / Book here
Formerly the Protea Hotel Saldanha Bay, this lagoon-side accommodation is now locally owned and celebratory of all things West Coast. From the menu to the decor, the hotel has been tastefully done and is a great location for families wanting to explore the area. Home to gorgeous views over the bay and one of the most generous buffet breakfasts around, a stay at the Saldanha Bay Hotel is always a good choice.
Tel: 022 714 1264 / firstname.lastname@example.org / 51 Main Road, Saldanha / Book here
Sitting atop a sand dune with access to a scallop-shaped bay, The Beach House is a spacious family-orientated home made for entertaining. Sleeping 10 across 4 bedrooms, the house has a large kitchen, indoor braai and big stoep from where sunset-watching is mandatory. Kids will love the loft bedroom and the Beach House is also pet-friendly, meaning that the whole family can enjoy the charm of this tiny coastal suburb.
Tel: 072 537 5328 or 078 860 9721 / email@example.com / Beach Road, Jacobsbaai / Book here
Found just before the railway bridge between the Saldanha Bay and Vredenburg turn-offs sits Weskus Spens. Immediately recognizable by the ship’s forecastle signposting the padstal, this is the home of the best farm bread on the West Coast. Owned and run by Annemarie Thom, Weskus Spens is a welcome respite from the road, offering hungry travellers freshly baked pies, melktert and koeksisters – usually served alongside moerkoffie in enamel mugs. Although unassuming in appearance, Annemarie’s famed white bread has the appeal of a sourdough borne from a master starter. The crust is crisp, the scent pleasingly yeasty and the bliss felt when exiting Weskus Spens, a brown paper-covered loaf warming the crook of the arm is a feeling that I’m fortunately familiar with.
Kneaded daily by Annemarie herself, the bread is made with locally milled flour and baked in small batches that soon sell out to customers lucky enough to find loaves in stock. Having run Weskus Spens for 22 years, Annemarie is adamant about keeping traditional recipes alive. The farm stall stocks a selection of regional products including heerbone and bokkoms, whilst homemade heirloom pickles and preserves test the knowledge of even the most seasoned of foodies.
Phone ahead for the bread then spend some time chatting with Annemarie or enjoying the sunshine on the stoep, a glass of ice-cold gemmerbier in hand.
Tel: 022 715 4400 / R27 West Coast Road
The Commercial Hotel is a Hopefield stalwart, having been in existence for over a century. Now owned and run by Jacques van der Westhuizen and his mother Rina, the hotel still retains its historic appeal – although this time from a period of pointed collars and polyester slacks. Last refurbished in the early 1970s, the interior of the hotel has been immaculately preserved in all its retro glory, becoming somewhat of a cult travel destination for seekers of a sepia-tinted time. From the Ladies Bar to the veneered staircase, Scandi furniture and slasto paving, entering The Commercial Hotel is stepping back to an era of dinner-dances, coiffed hair and hors d’oeuvres.
Oozing nostalgia, the best place to experience the hotel is the formal dining room, the new restaurant or the beautifully refurbished liquor store.
Tel: 072 703 3156 / 35 Voortrekker Road, Hopefield / Book here
Hopefield lies a short drive from Velddrif and plays host to a wonderful farmer’s market every Saturday morning. Stocking a wealth of gorgeous produce from artisans all over the West Coast, the market is the best place to source seasonal fruit and veg, organic eggs, breads, pickles, preserves, chilli sauce and Kokerboom Kaas’ cheese and charcuterie. Make a morning if it and grab a breakfast of freshly made roosterkoek or pannekoek just outside the market’s doors and bask in the sunshine.
*As of April 2023, the market will move to a new location in Hopefield and be offering an artisanal foodie experience that will include food demos, workshops, tastings and lots more! Follow them on The Foodie Hub.
Needing little introduction, Wolfgat and the restaurant’s chef-patron Kobus van der Merwe epitomize the West Coast dream. Having adapted his own unique approach to the food of the region, Kobus’ cuisine is predominantly a mixture of foraged botanicals, locally sourced ingredients and fresh-caught seafood. Recipes pay homage to the indigenous culture of the San hunter-gatherers and the flavourful mix of Cape Malay and Afrikaans fare – all served as an interpretation of the award-winning chef’s signature strandveld style. Booking is essential and the while the wait for a table at Wolfgat is lengthy, the experience is a lasting one.
10 Sampson St, Kliprug, Paternoster / Book here
Little sister to Wolfgat, Oep ve Koep is my first stop when arriving in Paternoster. Known for their farm bread, fresh produce and home bakes, browsing in this charmingly whitewashed winkel is always a treat. A great place for souvenir shopping, I love buying their enamel cookware, homemade bath salts, local honey and other goodies as gifts for friends living outside the West Coast. Not only a shop, Oep ve Koep has a relaxed restaurant in their courtyard garden that serves up ingenious fare indigenous to the area.
Tel: 072 741 3709 / Cnr of St. Augustine Road and R45 (Vredenburg Road), Paternoster
Unquestionably the best spot for sushi we’ve found on the West Coast, De Seekat restaurant is found next to Paternoster’s popular Crayfish Wharf and boasts an impressive sea view and deliciously fresh seafood. One of my favourite Sunday pastimes is to enjoy a slow lunch over a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc on De Seekat’s stoep. Booking is essential as this place gets very busy!
Tel: 072 343 9793 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Kreefte St, Kliprug, Paternoster
A West Coast stalwart, the Paternoster Hotel is as much a part of this fishing town as crayfish. Immediately recognisable for its red tin roof, the hotel doesn’t only offer accommodation. Enjoy a seafood meal out of their street-side stoep or have a drink in the hotel’s infamous Panty Bar.
Tel: 022 752 2703 / St Augustine Rd, Paternoster
Popular with Paternoster’s residents, if its fish and chips with a fantastic view that you’re after, look no further than Voorstrandt. Housed in a historical building with an iconic red tin roof, the restaurant serves up fresh fish of the day alongside West Coast classics – with their snoek samoosas a particular highlight. Sit seaside and enjoy a glass of local wine or kick off your shoes and stroll down to the ocean while you wait for the food to arrive.
Tel: 022 752 2038 / email@example.com / Strandloper St, Voorstrand, Paternoster
Whether wanting to pitch a tent, take in the scenery or set up a lunchtime braai, Cape Columbine Nature Reserve offers an untouched stretch of coastline that includes camping and cooking facilities and multiple sheltered coves ideal for taking a dip. Stretch your legs and take a walk up to the lighthouse – built in 1936 on this most westerly tip of the Cape Peninsula – or brave its heights and enjoy a guided tour of the inside.
Tietiesbaai Road, Paternoster
*A note on crayfish – while in Paternoster, you’ll encounter numerous street-side sellers retailing bags of crayfish, mussels and sometimes fish. Before buying, it’s important to be aware of seasonal availability for certain species as well as daily quotas and size. If you’re not sure, rather don’t buy. And in the case of crayfish, avoid buying altogether as this sensitive shellfish is severely under threat due to overfishing and poaching.
ST HELENA BAY
Found just outside St Helena Bay, Alegria is a family-run, pet-friendly restaurant specialising in Portuguese fare. Why Portuguese you ask? Well, St Helena Bay was the first landing point for Vasco Da Gama and was named by him back in 1497. Naturally, the cuisine reflects this rich history and customers can enjoy Alegria’s menu of grilled chicken, steak, sardines and espetada – just be sure to order a side of their peri peri sauce. It’s epic!
Tel: 022 736 1393 / firstname.lastname@example.org / 2 Sea Street, Slippersbaai, St Helena Bay
Legendary for their dröewors, Poetsie’s Deli is a small shop found sandwiched between a bar and a repair garage. Oft-overlooked because of their unpretentious appearance, Poetsie’s is truly a hidden gem and deserves a repeat visit whenever one should find themselves in the area. From quirky shell gifts to homemade cookies, cakes and bread, Poetsie’s Deli is one of my favourite stops in St Helena Bay. Look out for the beautiful mural of fishermen in the rock pools on the wall outside the deli – it adds to the charm of this quintessentially West Coast padstalletjie.
Columbine Street / St Helena Bay
Extremely popular with the locals, fish and chips from BP Marine has almost been elevated to the point of cult status. Expect a queue – especially if you visit during lunchtime – that fortunately moves fast due to the high turnover at this harbour-side fish shop. Always ALWAYS order the snoek when they have it.
Tel: 022 736 1246 / St Helena Bay Harbour
This glitzy hotel is found within the Shelley Point development and is popular for its golf course and spa. Although admittedly the decor is a little more Roman holiday than Weskus escape, I do enjoy the occasional luxurious visit here for their relaxing spa treatments and delicious pizza and seafood at the hotel’s Dorothea’s Restaurant. Upstairs is a Cattle Baron if you’re rather in the mood for retro steakhouse classics.
Tel: 022 742 1065 / email@example.com / Golden Mile Boulevard, Shelley Point Estate, St Helena Bay
Blou Huisie is a Cape Cod-style beach home that offers the most idyllic retreat on the shores of Britannia Bay on the West Coast. Dreaming of a summer spent seaside, sunshine on one’s skin and a salt-scented ocean breeze blowing through one’s hair? That’s exactly what I had in mind upon discovering this prettily periwinkle cottage overlooking the sea. Perched atop a bluff borders a sheltered bay, Blou Huisie makes for the perfect family getaway, with two en-suite bedrooms and a loft sleeping 6-8 people in total. Soft tonal blues give the house its name whilst playful decor touches like sea creature decals in the bathrooms and a cheerily pink flamingo wall hanging provide character. Vintage chairs, pleasingly mismatched, are set around a scrubbed wooden table and the cupboard under the stairs is filled to the brim with beach toys.
A mom herself, owner Noortjie de Leeuw has made sure to kit out the house with all manner of goodies for little ones – from brightly hued buckets and spades to a small climbing frame in the front garden. For couples, a stay here is equally enjoyable what with a fully equipped kitchen (yes, and that most essential of appliances – a dishwasher), slow combustion fireplace and a wood-fired hot tub. And when summer’s southeaster allows for it, little is more romantic than immersing oneselves in the warm water and witnessing one of Britannia Bay’s painterly sunsets over a glass of wine.
Tel: 076 392 3887 / 27 Walter Cres, Britannia Bay, St Helena Bay
A legend in its own time, Knor Varkie has to be experienced to be believed. Located on the banks of the Berg River, the farm features camping, accommodation, fishing and their River Shack – a psychedelically painted outdoor eatery and bar that serves up great specials on drinks and food. Ideal for lining the stomach, I would recommend the burgers or their moreish smoked snoek pâté.
Tel: 082 460 7810 / R234 Hopefield Road, Velddrif
A retro gem that probably hasn’t changed too much since my father used to frequent it back in the Eighties, The Riviera Hotel boasts one of the best views over the Berg River and Carinus Bridge – the gateway into Velddrif. The hotel’s restaurant Die Pont lends a nod to the original method of crossing “the drift” prior to the bridge’s development in 1950. While some of the cuisine can be questionable, one is pretty safe when ordering the crispy squid tentacles or fish and chips –basically anything deep fried! That being said, go retro and order the crumbed mushrooms, some slap chips and perhaps one of the Riviera’s luridly bright cocktails – called a proppie – and watch the sunset from the deck.
Tel: 022 783 1137 / firstname.lastname@example.org / 136 Voortrekker Street, Velddrif
No visit to Velddrif is replete without a drive/walk down what is possibly the most iconic street on the entire West Coast. Originally the launching place for fishermen to catch harders (South African mullet) in the Berg Rover estuary, this short dirt stretch is lined with whitewashed drying huts used to process and dry the fish, turning them into bokkoms. The historical heart of Velddrif, Bokkomlaan gets its name from this rather pungent-smelling fish biltong – with the process used to make bokkoms left unchanged to this day. The Laan itself is also home to various eateries, craft shops and companies like Cracklin’ Rosie River Tours – spot the Laan’s resident herons, geese, pelicans and spoonbills in the shallows or launch your canoe or small boat from the shore.
New kid on the block Kleinvlei can be found on Velddrif’s famous Bokkomlaan and offers up a menu as aesthetically pleasing as their whitewashed bokkomhuisie. Open for breakfast and lunch (with dinner to hopefully follow!), this little bistro with a lot of heart offers diners delicious fare with a localised twist. Their Weskus Eggs Benedict is particularly popular and features poached eggs and Hollandaise atop homemade fish cakes. Not titled a wine stoep for nothing, Kleinvlei has a comprehensive list of wines from the surrounding Swartland and further afield. A must-visit for a lunchtime tipple!
Tel: 060 645 4365 / email@example.com / Vishuis No.11, Bokkomlaan, Velddrif
A proper family institution, Mappie Visserye is one of the original fisheries on Bokkomlaan. Helmed by Mappie Brand and now his son Wynand Brand, the fishery produces whole bokkoms as well as bokkom strips (repies), bokkom powder and bokkom in oil – a delicious sort of Weskus anchovy.
Find Mappie Visserye products sold in Columbine Co. on Bokkomlaan.
Wildly popular since opening its doors back in 2018, Columbine Co. is a coffee shop that retails all kinds of hot drinks plus locally baked treats and curios. Housed in a historical bokkom huisie, the space is dominated by an enormous coffee roaster, where owner Albert hand-prepares his own brew. Pop in for a cup and stay to birdwatch – often Bokkomlaan’s own herons or pelicans pay the fishery next door a visit.
Tel: 084 879 7006 / 9 Bokkomlaan, Velddrif
Operating out of her Bokkomlaan café, AVOO owner Danica Mackie retails freshly made salads, sandwiches and smoothies to her devout client base. Bringing a lighter side to what is generally an array of fried foods available on Bokkomlaan, AVOO caters to both the health-conscious and hunters of delicious food – with her homemade bokkom bread and spekboom cake being particularly noteworthy.
Tel: 061 077 2110 / Bokkomlaan, Velddrif
My personal home for three months while I was writing my cookbook, this little cottage holds a very special place on this list. Located just off Bokkomlaan, this sweet two-sleeper hideaway is situated in its own beautiful garden replete with outdoor braai, patio and plunge pool.
Tel: 082 415 6240 / 144 Voortrekker Road, Velddrif
Helmed by David Malan, his wife Carolyn and new cheesemaker Leah, Kokerboom Kaas was born after David took part in a cheese-making course and converted his fisherman’s cottage to include a dedicated cheese room. Now boasting an impressive family of dairy-based delights – all made with the rich milk provided by the Guernsey herd at nearby Langrietvlei farm – David’s ricotta, Stilton and Camembert are lusciously creamy whilst Bokkomlaan Bleu is an ode to its namesake, with an aroma that could battle the bokkom in delicious pungency. Book a personalised tasting hosted by David himself and discover why this bespoke business now retails its delicious produce in delicatessens all over Cape Town as well as the West Coast.
Tel: 082 572 1822 / 5 Waterkant Street, Velddrif
Found in the front of the Pelican Harbour complex, the Harbour Hut epitomises the concept of “snack shack”. Colourfully painted and welcoming, this tiny eatery packs a big punch when it comes to food. Expect hearty homemade burgers, big breakfasts and Harbour Hut’s famous milkshakes. A lovely spot to grab lunch with a view over the river.
Tel: 082 298 7656 / Piet Orlam Street, Velddrif
Port Owen’s unofficial restaurant, Charlie’s Brewhouse is a casual, knees-up eatery that caters to all kinds of tastes. Best known for their pizza, burgers and house-brewed beer, Charlie’s also has an extensive wine list, cocktail menu and children’s menu. Well-priced and amenable, it’s a treat to sit at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables on a windless evening and enjoy their delicious peri peri chicken livers and a glass of wine.
Tel: 022 783 0448 / 1 Marina Centre, Port Owen Dr, Port Owen, Velddrif
Don’t let the rather rough-and-ready exterior of this pub & grill put you off – Die Vaaitjie is one of the most popular places to eat in Velddrif. Known for their drink specials and live music, expect dishes like crumbed chicken schnitzel, sticky basted ribs and other pub grub.
Tel: 082 335 5338 / Harbour Centre, Port Owen Dr, Port Owen, Velddrif
One of the original harbours in Velddrif, Rooibaai has always been an integral part of the town’s fishing industry. Located just upriver from the fish processing factory, Rooibaai is the only place in Velddrif where the public are welcome to walk on and use some of the jetties and is a wonderful place to canoe or swim (safely) from in the summertime. If one is fortunate enough to be there at the right time, watching the cormorants fly in from a day’s fishing at sea is always a treat.
Immediately recognisable for their colourful signage and shopfront, Westland Fisheries is a popular spot if you’re hungry for just about anything. Their varied menu includes the usual fish and chips (with their fried snoek being particularly delicious) along with burgers, ribs, lamb chops, hotdogs, salad, prawns and curiously enough – fruit punch. Sample a few local delicacies like the snoek kuite (roe) or Westland’s own smoked fish. The restaurant also has a shop that retails fresh and frozen seafood.
Tel: 082 386 1880 / 2 Piet Orlam Road, Velddrif
As much a part of Velddrif as the Carinus bridge or bokkoms, a visit to Doepies is a necessity – especially around lunchtime. Everyone knows that when visiting a new town, one should eat where the locals do and where Velddrif locals eat is at Doepies. Home of the best fried snoek in town, in my eyes, Doepies can do no wrong. Extremely generous with their portions, one really doesn’t need to order extra chips when requesting a takeout – if you’re two people, opt for Doepie’s mini snoek & chips and be assured you won’t be going hungry. Steaming hot chips – properly slap as they should be – are doused in liberal amounts of vinegar and salt while the shatteringly crispy batter covers juicy snoek. An absolute treat at R65.00.
Next door to Doepies you’ll find Nossab – a fish shop retailing all manner of frozen seafoods. Reliably convenient and well-priced, Nossab offers shoppers a variety of fishy options both filleted and whole. If I can’t source fresh harders, snoek, Cape bream or maasbanker then I’m always assured to find them here.
Tel: 022 783 2433 / 5 De Villiers St, Laaiplek, Velddrif
If Bokkomlaan is Velddrif’s soul then Laaiplek Harbour is the town’s beating heart. Largely unchanged over the decades, the harbour is recognisable for its colourful fishing trawlers and concrete pier of the river mouth. Often, when the harders are shoaling, local fishermen stand side by side on the wooden jetty with their throw nets, catching the silvery fish as the resident cats wait expectantly for a tiddler to be thrown their way.
Found in the colourful and character-laden Laaiplek harbour, Die Vis Vlekhuis is a cheerfully painted restaurant and takeaway spot that serves up all manner of fishy options. While they don’t always have snoek on the menu (a chalkboard outside will advertise if they do), their hake and calamari are popular options, as are their ribs and chips. Order inside and find a table overlooking the harbour mouth – there’s a beautiful view out over the ocean from Die Vis Vlekhuis’ stoep.
Tel: 022 783 0553 / Laaiplek Harbour, Velddrif
Sheltered from summer’s Southeaster and with a view over Laaiplek’s colourful fishing boats, the Lighthouse Gift Shop and Deli serves up tempting treats at amazing prices. A favourite spot for soft serve and cinnamon sugar pancakes, it’s The Lighthouse Deli’s milkshakes that really steal the show. Decadently thick, the shakes comes in a variety of flavours and are topped with a chocolate wafer, mini marshmallows, caramel popcorn and chocolate candy – depending on which flavour you opt for.
The Deli also does delicious mince jaffles and toasties and retails all manner of exciting eats from their harbourside shop.
Tel: 082 070 8651 / 2 Mossel St, Laaiplek, Velddrif
A treasure trove of art, crafts and curiosities, the Pop-up Harbour Market is a great place for a snuffle-around. Shop here for locally produced souvenirs, children’s toys, ceramics and secondhand bits and bobs. Tel: 061 796 4307 / Mossel Street, Laaiplek, Velddrif
When it comes to authentic accommodation, one doesn’t get more Weskus than Wamakersvlei. Found between Dwarskersbos and Aurora, this family farm offers the ultimate beach escape. Rustically relaxed, Wamakersvlei consists of 5 cottages and can offer accommodation to 30 people as a whole. Each cottage was originally home to local fishermen and farmers in decades past and have been lovingly refurbished with the farm’s signature Cape Country style. Pets (including horses) are very welcome on the farm too. Visitors can enjoy walks on the untouched stretch of private beach, sunsets over the farm’s own saltpans and perhaps a visit from the resident ostriches.
Tel: 083 527 7967 / R27 from Dwarskersbos / Book here
A great spot for fresh bread, braaivleis and all manner of eats and treats, Deli on Main is a popular café and grocery shop. Boasting an extensive menu for such a small space, the Deli is known for their fresh seafood and generously sized sandwiches. Deli on Main also stocks a wide selection of pantry goodies, both local and imported. I usually pop in and stock up on hot sauce, preserves and sweet potato chips.
Tel: 081 541 5574 / 8a Main Road, Dwarskersbos
Imagine the perfect summer getaway – all white sand, warm sunshine and azure ocean. Walks on the beach in the pearly dawn, languid afternoon naps and evenings spent sipping on flinty white wines as dusk falls over the dunes. Enter the ultimate in beach house bliss found in at Casa Blu’.
Nestled in a quiet cul-de-sac in the seaside town of Dwaskersbos, Casa Blu’ is the kind of place that makes one rethink one’s priorities and consider becoming akin to those people that go off on holiday and just never return. A multi-level space that houses three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a double volume lounge, open-plan kitchen and a sprawling verandah with an infinity pool, Casa Blu’ is made for entertaining – even if there are just two of you. Facing an endless stretch of bone-bleached beach and the Atlantic Ocean, the house is a culmination of the beach properties of my dreams. Quintessentially West Coast at it’s core, the contemporary design and clever use of space has resulted in a holiday home that feels at once welcoming. One twin and one king-size bedroom upstairs share a loft bathroom, with the latter bedroom opening up on to a rooftop terrace that overlooks the beach.
firstname.lastname@example.org / Rocherpan Street, Dwarskersbos / Book here
If unadulterated luxury is your thing then a stay at Deus Benedicat will be money well spent. This sprawling home opens up right on to the beach and features a pool, outdoor and indoor braais and even a pizza oven. All four bedrooms have their own en-suite bathroom and there are gorgeous views to be enjoyed from the upstairs cocktail deck.
Rocherpan Street, Dwarskersbos / Book here
By far my favourite spot for a takeaway, Die See Kaia is frequently visited for their toasties, excellent chips, cheeseburgers and pizza. Owner Jimmy is welcoming, and the atmosphere is friendly – a proper family-run seaside restaurant that one rarely finds any longer. Colourfully painted walls depict beach scenes that evoke the nostalgia of childhood holidays and on warm days a soft serve enjoyed here is an absolute treat.
Tel: 071 742 8593 / 2 Roos Street, Dwarskersbos
Settled in the coastal scrub just past Dwaskersbos, Rocherpan is one of the few private reserves that is almost entirely off-grid. Home to many species of bird and featuring private beach access, the reserve is the ideal getaway for those looking to rest and recharge. Eight chalets, each able to sleep three to five people, offer pleasingly rustic finishes along with an open-plan living space, private deck with braai facilities and a bathroom with a large shower.
087 087 4177 / R27 from Dwarskersbos / Book here
Located a kilometre or so after the Elands Bay turnoff from Dwarskersbos, Die Skooltjie is a treasure trove of tastes gone by. Selling a vast and interesting array of jams, jellies and preserves, chutney, flavoured vinegar and pickles made in nearby Aurora, this little padstal is definitely worth a stop. Ranging from the well-known to the entirely obscure, I always have great fun picking out a selection of goodies for my pantry at home. Die Skooltjie also sells biltong, dröewors, homemade pies and soft serve ice cream – with the latter being a welcome treat during summer’s heat.
Tel: 084 549 3166 / R27 towards Elands Bay
A welcome addition to the small town of Aurora, Koekeloer en Koffiemoer is an eclectically decorated coffee shop that serves up breakfast, light lunches and all manner of sweet treats. Owner and chef Francoise goes out of her way to make diners feel welcome and her scones are a must-try.
Tel: 066 097 9787 / 17 Lang Street, Aurora
Elands Bay Cave
A heritage site, the Elands Bay Cave is a great place to visit if one fancies a short hike with a big reward at the end of it. Located around the bend of Baboon Point, the cave lies about a kilometre up into the mountain but is easily accessed via a path or – for any intrepid and talented 4×4 drivers – a gravel road. Passing various ruins on the way up – including a WW2 radar tower – it’s the view from the top that is the real drawcard. Curving up like the waves it faces on to, the cave echos the ocean and is filled with the ochre artworks of the native San people who used the cave as a shelter around 10 000 years ago. Valuable stone tools were discovered here when the cave was first excavated in the Seventies and middens have given archaeologists a good idea that the predominant food of these hunter gatherers was shellfish. A diet that persists amongst Elands Bay residents and visitors alike today.
As iconic as Baboon Point or Elands’ own left-hand point break, the Elands Bay Hotel has sat as a landmark of this little town for well over half a century. Quirkily retro, the hotel itself offers unparalleled views over the bay and the restaurant and bar are well patronised because of it. Popular with local surfers, visiting families or farmers from nearby Verlorenvlei, the restaurant serves casual knees-up fare like calamari, burgers and prawns. While some of the dishes can be rather hit-and-miss, especially if the restaurant is busy, I always err on the side of caution and order the fish and chips or catch of the day. Enjoyed outside in the sunshine with a bottle of Sir Lambert Sauvignon Blanc, lunch here is always a favourite pastime of mine when in the area.
Tel: 022 972 1640 / email@example.com / 1 Hunter St, Elands Bay / Book here
Unmistakably recognised by its red tin roof and cheerful murals, Vensterklip is a restaurant, B&B and self catering accommodation, event venue and camp ground all in one. Built around a 100 year-old barn and adjoining historical homestead, Vensterklip is a great place to eat, play and stay. The restaurant makes excellent pizza on Friday nights and the menu reflects ingredients endemic to the area like heerboontjies. The self-catering cottages are charmingly furnished and there is also a backpackers for larger groups. Die Rooi Stoor is Vensterklip’s own padstalletjie and sells everything from preserves to home bakes and bric-a-brac.
Tel: 022 792 1340 / firstname.lastname@example.org / R366, Elands Bay / Book here
I spent my 27th birthday here a few years ago and have dreamed about returning ever since. This architect-designed beach house utilises straw bales in building, making the home wonderfully warm in winter and cool in summer. The open-plan design makes it great for entertaining and the large kitchen and braai area makes it a dream to cater in.
Come for the waves, stay for the vibe. This colourful café is decorated with quirky sculpture and psychedelic paintings. Filled with surf-related souvenirs and curios, the Die Wit Mossel Pot is a casual spot that is great for a quick breakfast, toasted sandwich or burger.
Tel: 082 496 8931 / 11 Hunter St, Elands Bay
Lamberts Bay happens to be home to a celebrated single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc that claims to be the ideal wine to enjoy with local seafood. Cultivated on Kookfontein’s wine estate, the vineyards lie in a valley just outside of town, giving them exposure to the icy sea mists that roll in from the Atlantic.
Calling the farm home is Joos Engelbrecht, Theunette van Heerden and their gentle giant of a boerboel, Luca. What with Kookfontein settled on prime Sandveld land, the foremost produce farmed here are potatoes – in particular the Electra, Mondial, red-skinned Apache and waxy Nicola. But Joos’ love for cold climate wines led him to into viticulture and after planting vineyards almost a decade ago, Kookfontein Sauvignon Blanc has developed into a distinctively West Coast wine that is best enjoyed a year or two after bottling. Featuring a citrus undertone, Kookfontein’s signature salty taste and flinty minerality makes the wine an appreciable pairing with seafood and shellfish. Bottled at Fryer’s Cove in Doringbaai, a sip of Kookfontein conjures up images of crisp evenings around a gesêlsvuur, mussels steaming in the potjie and the roar of the Atlantic rebounding from a sky strewn with stars.
Speaking of which, Kookfontein also has two lovely farm cottages available for accommodation – giving visitors the perfect excuse to stay the weekend, sample the wine and perhaps dine out at my next recommendation.
Tel: 082 456 4299 / R364 road out of Lamberts Bay
Situated between the coastal towns of Elandsbaai and Lambert’s Bay, Muisbosskerm is the best spot to enjoy traditional Weskus fare cooked over the coals and served up over the course of a few hours (and a few bottles of wine). Opting for accommodation nearby is a must for anyone wanting to head to the restaurant for their famed lunches and dinners as eating at Muisbosskerm is not a rushed affair. Rustic, windswept and salt-bleached, with shells adorning the wooden foundation posts and bokkoms hanging in the eaves, Muisbosskerm offers up exactly what one would expect from the West Coast.
Catering best to bigger parties, expect picnic benches and stone slab tables, a communal fire pit and more food than the average diner could ever hope to consume in a single sitting. With lunch and dinner each lasting about 2 to 3 hours and serving up multiple courses, the highlight is the seafood. Locally-caught, be sure to try a bit of everything – there are few than can prepare fish in the true West Coast way. Salted snoek is pegged to dry in the warm afternoon wind, offering a picturesque foreground to kilometres of deserted beach while fillets of hake are salted and fried to golden perfection over the coals. Crashing waves and the screech of gulls provide the soundtrack to what is a hive of activity as dinner is prepared by Muisbosskerm’s team of skilled cooks. Multiple fires are lit in the concrete pits whilst the tempting scent of mackerel, angelfish and snoek emanate from cavernous smokers. The atmosphere is convivial and expectant, with tables claimed and wine uncorked.
Come for the food, stay for the sunset – and the after-dinner koeksusters and moerkoffie if you by some miracle still have an appetite!
Tel: 027 432 1017 / R365, just before Lamberts Bay on the southerly side / Book here
When in Doringbaai it’s de rigueur to dine at The Jetty – resident eatery at the Fryer’s Cove cellar. If you can, grab the farthermost table on the spindly jetty from which the restaurant takes its name and order a glass of Sauvignon Blanc – all three offered come highly recommended – before you peruse the menu. If available, ALWAYS order the snoek. Fried, obviously. If not, get the snoekkoekies. Order another glass – actually a bottle is best – and take in the fact that you’re enjoying lunch in what was previously a crayfish factory. Right next door is an abalone farm, with the prized perlemoen available for sampling with the aforementioned SB. Encircling the building, it’s the same bright blue pipes that keep the abalone tanks pumped with fresh seawater that also cool the wine. And that’s pretty cool if you ask me.
Diamond boats with their snaking pipelines bob on the swell just beyond the jetty, making the scallop-shaped bay look a bit like a giant swimming pool replete with twin Kreepy Kraulys. If you’re incredibly lucky, you might see bakkies (of the floating variety) return on the tide, laden with silvery snoek or bream, ready to vlek on the concrete slide of the slipway. Just below your feet the ocean is azure, with schools of tiny iridescent fish visible between dark fronds of bull kelp, shining wet and leathery as the waves ebb. Gulls inch closer, hoping in vain for a snoeky snack, but the food was just too good to share. Fortunately the wine is made for sharing, as is the experience that comes with visiting what might be the most unique winery in South Africa.
Tel: 027 215 1092 / email@example.com / Quality Street, Doringbaai Harbour / Book here
Another wonder of viticulture to come out of the West Coast, Lutzville Vineyards is found on the fertile banks of the Olifants River. Their tasting room and restaurant offers visitors a chance to sample the fruit-forward cool climate wines on offer, as well as partake in lunch or a cheese platter.
Tel: 027 217 1516 or 076 812 4344 / firstname.lastname@example.org / R363, Lutzville / Book here