Plettenberg Bay is a town of innovators. What other dorp is home to an artistically interpreted elephant formation, a historical whaling station that now serves cocktails, and a weaving museum?
Here is a list of some of Plett’s unique cultural experiences that you don’t want to miss! This three-day history itinerary is a great starting point for an educational vacation.
Stash your bags at your guest house and hit the road – the next three days are jam-packed with historical sights and interesting things to do! Your first stop is the historic Old Nick Village, built in 1880 and still in operation today. It is home to Mungo Designs, one of the oldest weaving studios and businesses in South Africa. The Mungo Mill offers guided and self-guided tours. It is a showcase of weaving production from pre-industrial revolution to present day. Once you’ve toured the Mungo Mill, browse through the beautiful gardens and the boutique shops for a uniquely South African shopping experience. You can also grab a quick bite at Roost.
Stretch your legs with a walk from Central Beach to the Boundary Stone of the Dutch East Indian Company from the late 18th Century, where Governor Baron von Plettenberg commissioned the Timber Shed, now a proclaimed National Monument. Meander across the road to the new Old Rectory Hotel, a five-star hotel that remains virtually intact from the days of the Dutch East Indian Company and has recently been renovated. The front-of-house staff will take you through the building and its history. It is the perfect stop to kick-back, relax and take advantage of their intimate bar for a slow gin and tonic or maybe sit under the canopy of 150 year old trees on their spacious pool-side deck to enjoy a glass of their Kay & Monty house wine and a few snacks before supper.
What better place to have dinner than in a restaurant housed in one of Plett’s oldest buildings, an original dairy dating back over a hundred years? Nguni Restaurant focuses on traditional African cuisine like Bobotie, game, Karoo lamb, ostrich and other local favourites. With its outdoor verandah or eclectic African interior with an original wood-burning stove, the ladies at Nguni provide customers with a unique setting and a superb menu.
Start your morning with breakfast and a welcoming arts and crafts display at the Harkerville Saturday Market, which has been dishing up traditional pancakes, waffles, ‘Bundu’ breakfasts, savoury pies, artisanal cheese and breads and other delicious treats to locals for over 20 years.
The Griqua nation, are direct descendants of the Khoisan, and have called Plettenberg Bay home since 1927. The Kranshoek Griqua Museum and Monument was built in 1942. It is a short walk from the village centre where you will find the Aartmoeders Land_Art sculpture, on the edge of the spectacular Kranshoek cliffs. The tour, which must be reserved in advance, is the perfect way to learn about the Griqua history and heritage.
Lunch today is in the location of a 19th Century whaling station, the Beacon Island Resort. The Beacon Island famously worked as a whaling station and still boasts the navigation beacon and other historical relics. Choose one of the three restaurants and enjoy lunch with an incredible view. This is also one of Plett’s best places to view dolphins, whales and other marine life that frequent the bay. Plett’s Whale Season and the South African Sardine Run offers guests amazing opportunities to witness amazing marine migrations.
Now that you have had a great lunch, put on those walking shoes, grab a hat and head to Robberg Nature Reserve for a short walk to finish the afternoon in the great outdoors. Plett’s lighthouse is located here and you can also explore Nelson Bay Cave (Wagenaar’s Cave), an early human shelter (125 000 years old). It is a Stone Age archaeological site. During you walk you will also pass a 17th Century Portuguese shipwreck, and during certain months you can see our Great White visitors and the seal colony all from land.
On your way back from Robberg, stop in at the Surf Café, located at the Beacon Isle Centre. The restaurant and bar are representative of the Plett surfing culture. The restaurant is a local hang-out and they offer daily live music and a selection of artisanal beers as well as traditional cocktails and other beverage options. You can often spot surfing legends, famous South African musicians and even a few colorful local personalities hanging out on their spacious deck or inside watching sport.
Explore our iKasi Life and visit the N2 Lounge, one of those places where everyone knows your name. A spot that will have you coming back, week after week or whenever you are back in town. They have something special to offer just about everyone; a friendly bartender, fancy cocktails and it’s the perfect spot to go to and get away and catch up over a beer. You will find them just off the N2 at Sishuba Street, Kwanokuthula.
Skhulu’z Lounge (Schoolboy’s Tavern) is one of Plett’s oldest running music cafes, currently featuring local DJ’s spinning some fine South African jazz and house music. It’s a dance club, a bar and home to local soccer clubs and their fans. You will find them on Sishuba Street, Kwanokuthula.
Today you will be heading out to Harkerville, a drive with some gorgeous views. Before leaving town, stop for breakfast at The Lookout Deck and you may be lucky enough to catch the morning flight of migratory birds or the feeding run by our local dolphin gang. The food is great, but the scenery is even better.
The Harkerville Forest has two locations famous for its lush canopy of indigenous Yellowwood, Milkwood and other trees. The Garden of Eden is a 1 kilometre walk that was built in 1926. It is mostly a wooden boardwalk and it is wheelchair friendly. It is just long enough to get your senses going. It is also a great place to find giant moss, lichen, streams, filtered sunlight beams and some of our more notorious wildlife – Vervet monkeys, dassies, mongoose, the Knysna loerie and other birds. There are wooden benches and picnic tables to enjoy a leisurely break.
When you are finished here, up the road you will turn into the Harkerville Forest to visit the Kranshoek Viewpoint, located in the national San Parks reserve. There is a longer day-hike as well as short hikes, or you may just want to soak up the beauty at the viewpoint.
Traditional South African cuisine has often been influenced by flavours from Asia and the Europe. Die Plaas, located in the township of New Horizons, is a celebration of food. Restauranteur John Ruiters follows traditional recipes from his childhood. With a vintage feel and a rustic ambiance, Die Plaas feels like coming home to granny’s kitchen. The restaurant is open by appointment only. Phone John Ruiters for reservations on +27 (0)76 790 9648 / 8780.
Now that you’ve enjoyed a great lunch, it’s time to work it off with some light beach walking. Plett is home to 6 Blue Flag Beaches. Robberg Beach is one of the most popular, both for its picturesque views and the luxury homes peeking out from the sand dunes. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, take the route from the Beacon Isle Resort all the way to Robberg Nature Reserve, a 10 kilometre round trip.