A visitor’s guide to Mossel Bay

Private Property South Africa
Kit Heathcock

This laid-back seaside town has loads to offer the holidaymaker, and is the gateway to the world-famous Garden Route.

Mossel Bay is a small seaside town popular with holidaymakers. Its main claim to fame is being home to PetroSA, but tourism has overtaken oil and is now the biggest contributor to the town’s economy. Despite a cosmopolitan influx of visitors and international residents, Mossel Bay has held on to its friendly, laid-back atmosphere and is the current holder of the Kwela Town of the Year award.

The town’s initial attraction is, of course, the beaches, with three Blue Flag beaches, plenty of safe swimming areas in the warm Indian Ocean waters, a long stretch of coastline (both sandy and rocky) and good surfing spots for all experience levels.

The town’s prime location as the gateway to the Garden Route o¬ffers a whole lot more for the holiday-maker. You can get your thrills shark cage diving or sand-boarding, bungee jumping or sky-diving; explore history at the Dias Museum complex; or visit the Pinnacle Point caves, where archaeological evidence of early human behaviour is being discovered and documented. There are world-class golf courses, boat trips, diving, snorkelling and deep-sea fishing, and that’s all before you even start on day trips along the Garden Route.

The weather is a big attraction for those who choose to make Mossel Bay their permanent or holiday home. The town has the most moderate climate in the world after Hawaii, with mild winters and about 320 days of sunshine a year. “From a retirement point of view, it’s A1. There are estates with excellent security and we have excellent medical facilities including specialists,” says resident Richard Walton. “The golf estates appeal to the overseas buyers, who often have summer residences here.”

There’s also a growing trend of families from Gauteng relocating to Mossel Bay, he says, with George Airport only 30 minutes away for an easy commute. The town has several good schools including a Curro, and nearby George o¬ffers more well-regarded education institutions.

There’s plenty to do year-round, from hikes along the stunning coastal St Blaize trail to Dana Bay (often with whales to be seen in winter), to sporting events such as the Trans Agulhas Challenge and the Bu¬ffalo Rally, parkruns and farmers’ markets at nearby Hartenbos and entertainment at the Garden Route Casino.

The soothing sound of the ocean, the unhurried tempo of life and the natural beauty of the surroundings are the essential ingredients behind the appeal of everyday life in Mossel Bay.

Mossel Bay is a stepping stone to the rest of the Garden Route. It’s become very cosmopolitan and you can find some of the best golf courses in South Africa here.

-Richard Walton, resident.

Where to eat in Mossel Bay

  • Route 57: for fine dining
  • Cafe Gannet: for top-notch seafood and sushi
  • Carola Ann’s: for fresh and creative breakfasts and lunches
  • Kaai Four: for a laid-back braai on the beach
  • Blue Shed Coffee Roastery: for coffee and cake with a view
  • Baruch’s Coffee: for light lunches
  • Punjabi Kitchen: for authentic North Indian food

Things to do in Mossel Bay:

  • Hike the St Blaize trail along the coastline.
  • Surf, swim and play in the warm Indian Ocean.
  • Enjoy a guided archaeological tour of the Pinnacle Point caves.
  • Fish from the rocks or go deep-sea fishing.
  • Play golf at the spectacular Pinnacle Point golf course.
  • Go whale watching in season.

Mossel Bay’s best beaches:

  • Santos: a family-friendly area with a tram and a Victorian pavilion
  • De Bakke (Blue Flag): for swimming, surfing, snorkelling and canoeing
  • Hartenbos (Blue Flag): an easily accessible white sand beach
  • Klein Brak (Blue Flag): a long unspoilt sandy beach at the river mouth
  • Dias beach: a gentle, sandy, rock-free beach
  • Pinnacle Point: a beautiful secluded beach with rock pools

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This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.

View more of the neighbourhood here:

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