Plett Tourism hosts new SA Tour Company, Blu-Pebbles Tours and Transfers
Covid-19 has impacted the tourism community hard and we deciding to step into this industry during such uncertain times has been described by some as foolish… and that’s putting it kindly. Fortunately, there are still some ‘glass half full’ people in this world and we found ourselves lucky enough to meet a few of them on our recent trip to Plettenberg Bay.
Blu-Pebbles Tours and Transfers is a new family-run and operated South African Tour company situated in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth). Crystal & I have always had a shared love for the Garden Route and so we decided to reach out to Plettenberg Bay Tourism. We hoped to meet some of our travel partners and experience a few places so when we speak of Plettenberg Bay and book tours in and around, we would have had some first-hand experience in this happening town. How else can you convince travellers of something’s beauty from just seeing the pictures in a book?
Traveling should be an experience and to get the most from your trip you have to start early. However, you’ll need to “re-fuel” with some coffee and for that, we made our first stop at the Marilyn’s 60’s Diner in Storms River Village. With its Elvis and Marilyn memorabilia, Marilyn’s is an experience of note. I had my first ever banana with bacon and peanut butter toasted sandwich, an Elvis favourite I’m told, and it was delicious.
Charged and ready we headed to Plettenberg Bay for our very first meeting of the day and accommodation for the evening, 113 on Robberg B&B. Rene & Peter were most welcoming and after having settled in we were shown around their property nestled in a lovely garden and near local amenities.
We then headed out and met with Ronel Schoeman who is the Deputy General Manager for Beacon Island Resort. Wow! What an impressive building with exquisite ocean views. This Resort is filled with stories and history and provides a home from home experience but also not forgetting you are surrounded by that holiday feeling! After a delicious lunch in the Resort foyer, we moved on to our next destination.
We headed out and met with Ronel Schoeman, the Deputy General Manager for Beacon Island Resort. Wow! What an impressive building with exquisite ocean views. The resort is filled with stories and history, also provides a home-from-home experience, not forgetting you are surrounded by that holiday feeling! Ronel explained that the resort is also a timeshare which helped them keep going through these difficult times. I marvelled at the lounge with its breathtakingly panoramic view of the rebellious ocean. The foyer made me feel like I was in a luxury ship, and we fell in love with the lights that dropped down from the ceiling. After the site inspection, we were treated to a delicious lunch in the resort foyer and we chatted some more with Ronel.
Eventually, we said goodbye and headed out to another gem, the Bayside Lodge 4*. Adrienne and Bernie were incredibly welcoming, showing us their face brick Lodge, also nestled in a lush green garden. We even met their two well-behaved rescued Daschunds, Daisy and Oscar! Their Lodge gives a delightful quaint feeling of being surrounded by luxury, and their guests’ rooms clearly expressed the same. I was in love with the heavy wooden antique-style furniture. Also, following all the Covid protocols, their Lodge offered peace, tranquillity, and a guaranteed pleasurable stay.
Site inspections done for the day, we decided to just drive around a little and familiarise ourselves with the various shops and eateries on offer. We made a stop at The Lookout where again the impressive view of the Beacon Island Resort was visible. After more photographs, laughs, and more sightseeing, we took a drive to the Robberg nature trail. We were told about the Cave, but once we were there realized we did not have enough daytime or the right shoes to take a hike, so we left to find a shop to stock up on some snacks before heading back to 113 Robberg.
The next morning, Peter and Rene cooked us a scrumptious breakfast, which was a mix between a semi-continental spread followed by a warm plated meal. While we sat in the dining room, Jaco browsed their well-read bookshelf and was delighted to be given a book that caught his eye. I was more interested in the photographs on the walls, of course. Eventually, after a good chat had to leave and be on our way to our next site inspection and accommodation for the Friday evening, the Knysna Elephant Park.
Again, we were greeted with warm hospitality before being taken on a site inspection and shown to our room for the night. We then left to explore some more, and our itinerary took a slight change. We decided to visit Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, and Jukani. The staff was so enthusiastic, and again one realized the impact Covid19 has had on human interactions, not to mention the impact on the tourism industry. However, it was refreshing to see some tourists visiting!
Not realizing how fast time goes when having fun, we decided our stomachs needed some attention. Our exploring led us to the impressive property of Barrington’s for dinner. They can boast with their magnificent Kitchen Garden, Restaurant, Bar, and the first Craft Brewery situated within Plettenberg Bay. Barrington’s also has a small Hotel, Bakery & Grocer. We sat in the dining area, and to our delight, there was a glorious lit fireplace. I was most intrigued by the painting just above the fireplace, inspired by the California wildfires of 2018 painted by a Plettenberg Bay resident from her trip to California. The food was nothing short of scrumptious and after gorging ourselves we took a slow drive back to the Knysna Elephant Park, luckily with our own remote for the main gate.
I cannot explain how it felt sitting in the lounge overlooking the boma laid with hay and the resting place for the Elephants during the night if they so choose to come in from the cold. Luckily for us, there were three young Elephants inside the boma when we got back. We just sat silently watching them as they gently swayed and leaned against each other as they dosed. After a quick shower, coffee in hand, and with a blanket wrapped around me, I tiptoed back to the communal lounge. I snuggled on the couch and watched a young elephant lying on its side sleeping. Not long after, another young elephant came in. I watched in amazement as the youngster played ever so gently with haystacks and pinching the sand ever so delicately between his two fingers at the end of his trunk. I giggled as he proceeded to sprinkle sand over his sleeping friend and eventually gently footed him to wake up. The two then leaned against each other and eventually joined their herd outside in the dark of the night where now only low rumbles could be heard here and there. I had the most restful sleep that night!
After breakfast and more photo opportunities, we joined a small group for a tour to the Elephants. With their snack bucket in our hands, we headed out on the open Safari truck. The Elephants weren’t shy to greet, or should I say, they weren’t shy to quickly come up and stand behind the wooden rail waiting for some snacks. The sound of the vehicle’s engine approaching alerted them of what was coming! Having snacked up, we were assigned a guide to walk with us, alongside an Elephant whose name we learned is Keisha. As we walked alongside Keisha, our guide explained the reason for the park and the care and protection the Elephants received. It was something else to be able to actually gently touch such a huge yet gentle giant. We were also treated to seeing some of the resident Zebra.
Having thanked our hosts, we packed up and made our way to visit the Harkeville Saturday Market which came highly recommended. We were not disappointed. With aromas of sweet and savoury treats harassing our nostrils, stalls with just about any craft imaginable, and friendly people, we walked, ate, and shopped a little. We also had the opportunity to meet with Menno and Wil Heimstra who run the market.
Our visit had come to an end and we had to now get on the road and head back to Port Elizabeth. On our way out we made a quick stop at Old Nick Village where Jaco walked around taking photographs, briefly met up with a friend while I disappeared into the Moonstone which is a Crystal and Mineral gallery with a vast variety of precious stones and gems. Satisfied with my purchase I reappeared and we hit the road home.
A quick stop to look at Natures Valley and some photos at the Tsitsikamma Hiking Trail. We had a wonderful time, met lovely people, and viewed establishments all special in their own right. Grateful for this opportunity and ready to tackle our tours to Plettenberg Bay!