The Carvernous Charms of Arniston

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

Should your travels take you to this idyllic fishing village near the continent’s most southern tip of Cape Agulhas, allow for ample time to discover some of nature’s best.

A sleepy seaside hollow in the Overberg it may well be, yet there’s much to explore both in history and magnificent surroundings. If a sedate seaside lifestyle away from any hustle and bustle beckons, Arniston will not disappoint.

Rated by Time magazine as "one of the ten best hideaways in the world" it will soon come to light why many homes along this spectacular coastline known for its reef, have remained in families and trusts for generations. Prospective property buyers will also realise why properties here carry more handsome price tags than its nearby Cape Agulhas Muncipal neighbours. Average freehold properties in Arniston are currently priced at R1.8 million, compared to that of R1 million in nearby Struisbaai, R875 000 in Suiderstrand, R869 000 in Napier, R684 000 in Bredasdorp and R604 000 in L’Agulhas. This fishing village comprises both permanent residents, many who are champion fishermen, as well as owners of properties for rent, who themselves only visit here for short periods.

The history of this peaceful village goes back to the shipwreck of the East Indiaman troopship named the Arniston on 30 May 1815. While repatriating wounded soldiers en route from Ceylon to the UK, it mistook Cape Agulhas for Cape Point during a storm at Waenhuiskrans, which resulted in the survival of only six of 378 passengers. This fatal event led to the erection of the lighthouse at Cape Agulhas in 1847, and the history of the wreck has been carefully recorded in a nearby museum in Bredasdorp.

Today Arniston is also known as Waenhuiskrans, meaning ‘wagon house cliff’, and now part of the Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve. Visitors to Arniston take great pleasure in discovering the cavernous spaces where magnificent ocean views are visible through sea caves during low-tide, that although never used for this purpose, were known to be big enough to fit a wagon and oxen that could make an around turn inside. The turquoise seas and brilliant white beaches make for unforgettable family holidays as well as a wonderful permanent address to those with a preference for tranquil pass times such as fishing.

The small population of Arniston is recorded by Lightstone to be approximately 894 adults who are predominantly from the LSM9 High income group. In addition to fishing families who have always lived here, it also illustrates the slow turnover of properties of residents who have lived here for 11 years or more, mostly in the age group from 49 to 64 years old. The past 12 months shows only 9 properties sold, four at average price of R857 000, two at R975 000, one at R1.62 million, and two properties with average values of R2.2 million. National rankings rates Arniston closely with the likes of other Southern Cape seaside villages namely Kanonkop in Knysna, and Mossebay central.

For new visitors to Arniston, the village also offers a camp site, a luxury hotel with spa facilities, and a number of eateries and a small retail outlet catering for daily supplies to the village, and scholars can attend a number of schools in the nearby villages of Bredasdorp and Struisbaai.

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