Mossel Bay is the second-largest town on the Garden Route after George. It is situated at the general location of the first meeting place between European explorers and the indigenous Khoisan of the Southern Cape.
This occurred in February 1488 when Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias and his crew landed here in two 100-ton caravels.
Over 500 years later Mossel Bay is a popular holiday town and is said to have the best weather in the world - after Hawaii - with an average of 320 sunny days per year. Its adjoining coastline is known for some of the best swimming spots along the Southern Cape coast. The 24km of sand and surf include the sweeping curve of Dias Beach backed by the town’s high-rise hotels.Neighbouring coastal resorts like Dana Bay, Hartenbos, Little Brak River and Great Brak River make up part of the coastal playground.
From a visitor’s point of view, the older part of the town and out towards The Point is where the interesting things happen. At the harbour the boat and other water-based operators can be found. From here cruises to Seal Island can be booked. There’s also whale watching (June - October), and it’s one of 2 places in the country offering shark cage diving.
Land-based activities include hiking and walking along the coast and inland. A few moments at St. Blaize cave is a trip back in time and a round of golf at Pinnacle Point will satisfy the enthusiasts. Should you tire of all the outdoors stuff, the Maritime Museum is fascinating, and in the grounds an ancient milkwood tree stands as the first ‘post office’ in South Africa.
Look out for
Historical walk - dotted around the old town are architectural gems and sandstone buildings of historic significance. These can be seen on a historical self-guided walking tour. A detailed map and easy-to-use brochure are available from the tourist office.
Shark cage diving - for some underwater adrenaline head out to sea with White Shark Africa. Although Mossel Bay is not as well known as Gansbaai for shark cage diving, here you won’t be surrounded by boatloads of other adrenaline junkies. White Shark Africa is based on Commercial Slipway at the Mossel Bay harbour.
Boat trips - Seal Island is a blip in the bay about 2km from the harbour. Approximately 5 000 seals live there. Various companies run trips, including Romonza, which has been run by the same family for 30 years. Trips leave the harbour every hour on the hour from 10h00. They also do whale-watching trips from June to November.
Maritime Museum - the maritime history of Mossel Bay can be explored at the Dias Museum Complex where you can board a replica of Bartolomeu Dias’s caravel. There’s a Shell Museum, said to be the largest in South Africa. There is also an aquarium with various interesting exhibits.
Jukani Wildlife Predator Park - offers viewings of wild animals and a farmyard playground. There are 40-minute guided tours of the big cats every 2 hours from 10h00 to 16h00. The park is open every day. The cats include white lions, tigers, jaguars and pumas.
St Blaize Lighthouse - offers panoramic views over the peninsula, the bay and towards the Outeniqua mountains. It’s open for tours from 10h00-15h00 from Monday to Friday during May to September, and every day during other months.
Cape St Blaize Cave - at Mossel Bay’s Point, has revealed artefacts from the Khoisan, dating back 80 000 years. Some of these are housed in the Culture Museum. A boardwalk leads into the shallow shelter.
The St Blaize Trail - starts at the cave and winds for 13.5km along a contoured cliff-top path to Dana Bay, west of Mossel Bay. No permit, map or directions needed.