Just over a year ago, the Whale Coast – or rather Hermanus and Overstrand – was named the first gastronomic creative city in Africa by UNESCO. Frieda Lloyd, who loves the area and knows it like few others, drew us up a list of places to eat. Now, to mark the first anniversary, she has picked out six of her favourite hangouts along the coast. As she says, there are many others, but start here and then try more…
Stanford Manor House
Stanford Manor House is my ultimate Cape Whale Coast destination. Sleep, eat, explore, relax – all in one country-curated farm stay. The cottages on the Stanford farm are well equipped, stylish and the surroundings very comfortable. Janine van der Nest is in charge of the kitchen and has the ability to make your mouth water with every seasonal meal she creates. The restaurant has an art exhibition, and sculptures in the garden align with nature. An extensive range of local wines can be appreciated, and from mid-November the Cowshed Spa will open on the property and treatments will be available to day visitors as well as those staying over. I have my eye on the Bounce Back Retreat that offers a 4-day relax and recharge with the best possible care at very affordable prices.
Walker Bay Nature Reserve
Walker Bay Nature Reserve includes five coastal areas between Hermanus and Die Dam near the Southernmost Point of Africa. The largest area, also my favourite, stretches from Klein River to De Kelders at Gansbaai. It is on the De Kelders side where I feel as if I’ve gone down the rabbit hole. Here, pristinely natural seashore meets rock formations that remind me of a world far removed. This reserve is managed by CapeNature and a small fee of R50 gives you entry. Walk to the Klipgat Caves that are part of the Cradle of Human Culture’s Coastal Journey, hike on the beach, ride the dunes on a fat bike or in a Land Rover with experienced guides or just sit and breathe in the fresh sea air.
Putting on hiking boots give me the anticipation that something new and wonderful is about to happen. One of my best hikes is done with the guidance of Glamtrails walking from Fernkloof Nature Reserve with the Walker Bay ocean views through fynbos-cladded mountains to the vineyards of Hemel-en-Aarde. Look up and you get the big picture-landscape summary of Atlantic Ocean meeting mountain ranges, look down and see the detail of the protea, Erica or restio plants that line the paths. The reward of South Africa’s best Pinot Noir along the way will keep you going for miles until you reach the pleasures of Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Bouchard Finlayson, La Vierge, Bosman, Sumaridge, Newton Johnson, Restless River, Spookfontein, Seven Springs, Ataraxia, Creation, Hermanuspietersfontein, Whalehaven, Bartho Eksteen Wines and Domaine des Dieux. Enjoy the sculptures in the Creation fynbos garden while indulging your senses in an unmatched food-and-wine pairing that is considered to be one of the top 50 wine-tasting experiences in the world.
The private lounge on Mount Babylon vineyard has made the pages of glossy magazines. Book this tasting lounge decorated in a soft pink for a luxury celebration in Hemel-en-Aarde. Overlooking water with the majestic Mount Babylon mountain as a backdrop, this will make you sit back in the plush seats and raise a glass to a special moment and memory in the making.
Kogelberg Eco Cabins
Kogelberg Nature Reserve’s Oudebosch Eco Cabins between Kleinmond and Betty’s Bay are a perfect refuge. Sheltered next to the Palmiet River in the folds of ancient foothills, a group of glass fronted cottages provides a seamless link to nature. This is South Africa’s first internationally recognised biosphere, and you will be reminded of the rich fynbos diversity every day. The small collection of fourteen wooden structures with roof gardens enjoy access to hiking trails and an ecological pool. A honeymoon suit is part of the latest developments and aesthetically designed in collaboration with the Craft and Design Institute. Two cottages can be accessed by wheelchairs as well. These eco cottages are close to the hustle and buzzle of Kleinmond Harbour yet remotely detached from everyday life.
Buy a bottle of Benguela Cove’s MCC on the estate and add a little ceremony to the art of opening a bottle of bubbly. There are many reasons to celebrate. One being the ability to enjoy fine wine in the beautiful Cape coastal setting. The team at Benguela Cove has added a little fun to the day of reconnecting with friends in the winelands. Buy a bottle of Joie de Vivre at Benguela Cove and create wine theatre by sliding a saber along the neck of the bottle. An experience not just reserved for Formula One victories! The Sabrage Experience will be offered till the end of the year.
This list is obviously just a taste of the feast that awaits anyone going along the Cape Whale Coast. There is everything from dinner at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in the milkwood forest, high tea at Blue Goose in Gansbaai, visiting the public art in Hermanus and Kleinbaai, spending time with our many crafters and designers, reflecting on a book written by the talented Overberg authors in our curated bookshops, savouring the food and drinks of the region…
Get started this weekend!