An antidote to the fast-lane lifestyle, Plettenberg Bay conjures up a setting with indigenous forests, spectacular surroundings, sun-kissed beaches, gorgeous vineyards, and an impassioned culture. From watching a migrating whale to walking with an elephant, “Plett,” as the locals call it, is a dream holiday destination with undiluted natural experiences. It is the highlight of The Garden Route – a road that winds past enchanted traditional villages, prodigious mountains, evergreen wetlands and picturesque coastline. Cape Town may steal the spotlight, but this is where the locals come out to play.
The first Europeans to explore this region in the 15th and 16th centuries were the Portuguese explorers followed by the Dutch and British sailors. The Portuguese named it ‘Bahia das Alagoas,’ that means “Bay of the Lagoons.”
Things to Do in Plettenberg Bay
Beaches – The 20-km coastline of town boasts golden-sand beaches and rocky shores. While the Central Beach is the hub for marine safaris and dive charters, the Lookout Beach is popular for swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding. Nature’s Valley Beach, perhaps the most scenic beach, is a paradise for birdwatchers. Robberg Beach and Keurbooms Beach, having Blue Flag status, are perfect for morning and evening walks.
Birds of Eden – Opened in 2005, this sanctuary provides a safe haven for free-flight African birds and miniature monkeys. A huge two-hectare dome, among the largest in world, spans over indigenous forest. The sanctuary is home to over 3500 birds representing 200 species such as macaws, flamingos, cranes, parakeets, and ducks. Another highlight is an amphitheater with seating capacity of 200 guests. The daily walking safaris, lasting an hour, depart from reception area in every 30 minutes.
Robberg Nature Reserve – The Robberg Peninsula shelters a colony of Brown fur seals. Thus, it is an ideal spot to watch Great white sharks in action. Moreover, Southern right whales, Bryde’s whales, Humpback whales, Killer whales, and bottle-nosed dolphins are easily encountered in the waters of the Indian Ocean.
National Parks – Tsitsikamma National Park, a coastal reserve, offers hiking and trekking on the Otter Trail, the Waterfall Trail, and the Blue Duiker Trail. The Garden Route National Park, rich in history and diverse ecosystems, allows forest excursions, nature walks, and mountain biking as well.
The Crags – It is an elephant sanctuary that offers educational experience and bareback-riding tours. The guide provides an insight into African elephants as visitors can enjoy trunk in-hand tour and elephant brush down experience tour.
Outdoor Thrills – Adventure activities around the Plettenberg Bay include: Whale watching and dolphin spotting in Robberg Nature Reserve, birdwatching in Keurbooms River Nature Reserve, camping in Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park, zip-lining over Tsitsikamma Waterfalls, beer tasting at Knysna’s Mitchell’s Brewery, sunset cheetah walks at Tenikwa Wildlife Centre, and bungee jumping from the Bloukrans River bridge.
Birds of Eden, Bloukrans Bridge, Keurbooms River, Tsitsikamma National Park, and Nelson Bay Cave.
Plettenberg Bay is a coastal township located on the Garden Route in the Western Cape province of South Africa.
How to Reach?
By Air – Cape Town International Airport is the gateway to Plettenberg Bay. It is connected by African, European, and South Asian airlines. While Port Elizabeth Airport is served by domestic airlines from Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban; Plettenberg Bay Airport is served only by regional flights.
By Road – The township lies on the national route N2 that runs from Cape Town to Ermelo through Port Elizabeth and Durban. It is approximately 520 km from Cape Town and 240 km from Port Elizabeth. Baz Bus, a unique bus service, has a stop in Plettenberg Bay. There are many bus services available from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, but renting a car is highly recommended.
Plettenberg Bay, although an upmarket destination, has accommodation options for all kinds of travelers. For luxurious stay, you can choose from The Plettenberg Hotel, The Robberg Beach Lodge, Whalesong Coastal Lodge, Beacon Island Resort, and Milkwood Manor Guest House. For value-for-money accommodations, Amakaya Backpackers, Nothando Backpackers, Stone Cottage, and Fairways B & B are good options.
From seafood to grilled meats, the town is packed with contemporary and traditional restaurants that serve African, Moroccan, Portuguese, and Mediterranean cuisine. For a fine dining experience, you can choose from Nguni Restaurant, Zinzi Restaurant, The Lookout Deck Restaurant, The Med Seafood Bistro, Yellow Wood Spur, and Emily Moon Restaurant.
Best Time to Visit
Plettenberg Bay is truly a year-round destination that offers more than 300 days of sunshine. While May to November is ideal time for whale watching, locals gather here in July for the famous Knysna Oyster Festival.
Facts about Plettenberg Bay
- At 233 m, Bloukrans Bridge has the highest commercial bungee jumping facility in the world.
- The area shelters some of the largest seagull breeding colonies along the South African coast.
- Attracted by large number of seals, great white sharks and orcas are also common in the area.
- Nelson Bay Cave was inhabited for more than 100,000 years since the Stone Age.
Things to Remember
- Pack beachwear, sunscreen, and casual clothes while traveling to the Bay.
- Pets are not allowed on most beaches of the town.