Arniston is a sleepy little coastal village of something like 50-permanent residents south west of Bredasdorp. Those visiting out of season will experience its tranquillity. During season, however, the town is alive with frenetic activity.
First impressions are of a haven of white buildings and an undeveloped beachfront. Waenhuiskrans, meaning ‘wagon-house cliff’, lies near Arniston and refers to a nearby limestone cave. Kassiesbaai, to the east, is a national heritage site where the original, and well-known, fishermen’s houses are found. Not far from the town is the scenic De Mond Nature Reserve.
Plentiful seaside activities include angling, swimming, whale-watching (June-Nov), exploring coastal caves, surfing, kite boarding, dune running, or just sea-gazing. Although the sea isn’t as warm as further east along the coast, it’s perfect for snorkelling in clear rock pools and scuba-diving amongst the ocean wrecks.
Look out for
Kassiesbaai- This is one of the last unspoiled fishing villages in the country and a national heritage site. Its narrow streets are flanked by white stone and thatch cottages, some adorned by fishing paraphernalia.
Waenhuiskrans cave - At low tide, explore the expansive cave, so-named by farmers who said it was large enough to turn an ox-wagon in. It’s part of the picturesque limestone cliffs and suitable footwear is needed for negotiating sharp rocks (wet feet are a likelihood!) but it’s well worth the effort when standing inside, looking out onto the turquoise sea. It’s said to be the largest coastal cave in Africa that has no supporting roof pillar.
De Mond Nature Reserve - This picturesque reserve is located on the coast between Struisbaai and Arniston at the mouth of the Heuningnes River. There are no roads in the reserve but a swing bridge across the river leads to walks to the coast with its towering sand dunes. There is excellent bird watching – it’s an important breeding ground for the threatened Damara and Caspian Terns. A 7km circular hiking trail takes in fynbos and milkwood thickets, or you can walk to Arniston along the coastline. There’s also good fly-fishing during summer.
Roman Beach - En route to Waenhuiskrans cave is the main beach, and there’s one in front of the hotel that’s popular with the young and elderly.