Plettenberg Bay, or ‘Plett’ as it is known locally, is an area of outstanding natural beauty on the Garden Route. It has long been a favourite with tourists, enticed by its golden beaches. These sweeping ribbons of sand are strung along the coast between the dramatic Robberg Peninsula and the picture-perfect Keurbooms River Lagoon. In-between, at the mouth of the Piesang River, is a tiny island, atop which stands the iconic Beacon Isle Hotel.
From rocky outcrops and the viewpoints at Signal Hill and the Whale Tail it’s easy to while away the hours watching dolphins and whales, or just the endless motion of the sea.
If that’s too sedentary, barefoot walks along the coast are almost obligatory. Add to these a temperate climate and panoramic views that stretch from the bay to the Tsitsikamma mountains, and it’s not hard to see why Plett is so popular.
Plett’s attractions are not confined to the town and its beaches; rather it is a centre of a varied mix of activities. To the east the Bitou and Keurbooms rivers offer canoeing, fishing and boating, as well as good birdwatching.
The tiny hamlet of Keurboomstrand has fine beaches and rocky outcrops, including the unusual Arch Rock. A little further along, The Crags area is home to a host of wildlife experiences. These include Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, the Elephant Sanctuary, Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre and Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary.
In the direction of Knysna, around Harkerville, yet more wildlife awaits at the popular Knysna Elephant Park. Or you could visit the raptors of Eagle Encounters. For the fit, the 2-day Harkerville Hiking Trail also starts in the vicinity.
That’s quite a bit to keep anyone busy. However, you first have to get tired of those magnificent beaches.
Look out for
Beaches - the most popular beach – and the most crowded in season - is Central Beach. Between here and the Lookout Rocks, lies Hobie Beach. This is where the Hobie Cats launch from. Robberg Beach stretches from the Beacon Isle Hotel roughly 4.5km southwards to the Robberg peninsula. It offers sun lizards ample space to bake and is great for long walks.
Keurbooms River Lagoon - is right on the edge of town, and not to be confused with Keurboomstrand, which is about 12km east of Plett. It’s formed by the Bitou and Keurbooms rivers culminating in an estuary lagoon. The protected waters are ideal for swimming, wind water sports and boating. There’s a beach here and the shallow water is ideal for kids.
Robberg Nature Reserve – This embraces the 4km-long Robberg peninsula. There are 3 circular hiking routes taking in various aspects of the headland.
Dolphin and whale watching - there are a number of operators you can go out to sea with, and boat trips leave daily at scheduled times. The season for viewing southern right whales is from June to November. Bryde’s whales can be seen year-round and humpback whales are mostly seen in the area in from June to July, and again in November and December.
Old Nick Village - is a famous Plett landmark on the left of the N2 just east of town. The Old Nick Shop sells ceramics and textiles made on the premises. Other shops and galleries showcase South African crafts art, and designs that include weaving, pottery, clothing, soaps, jewellery and mosaics.
Keurbooms River Ferries – offers trips up the river through the gorge of the unspoilt Keurbooms Nature Reserve. It’s a special way to spend two and a half hours. Take a picnic lunch and grab a seat for a gentle cruise 5km up the river. Your guide will tell you all sorts of interesting facts about the river and environs.
Knysna Elephant Park – this is where you’ll find jumbos big and small to feed and stroke or just take a stroll with. Today the herd numbers 10 individuals living on 60 hectares of land. Tours to where the elephants are grazing leave the reception every half an hour from 08h30-16h30 daily. The sunrise and sunset outings are very special. There is a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.
Monkeyland - here primates that were previously spending their lives in cages have been released into a free roaming environment in 12 hectares of forest that closely resembles their natural habitat. They can be seen during a 1-hour guided safari with a ranger. These safaris depart every half an hour. They’re open 08h00-17h00 daily.
Birds of Eden - Spanning 2.3 hectares of indigenous forest it’s reputedly the largest single free-flight aviary in the world. It is home to over 3 000 previously caged birds of 220 African and exotic species. It’s open 08h00-17h00 daily.
The Elephant Sanctuary – is home to a small herd of rescued African elephants. They offer a close-up experience, including a trunk-in-hand walk. One-hour tours are available throughout the day from 08h00 - or try the popular 2-hour sunrise or sunset experience.
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre – is home to a host of wild felines from the African continent and beyond. One-hour guided tours leave every half an hour from 09h00-16h30 every day of the week.
Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary – one-hour guided tours start at an indigenous snake pit, followed by other outdoor exhibits. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10h00-16h00, and every day during school holidays.
Plett Puzzle Park – is lots of fun and suitable for all ages. The 3D Maze and Forest Puzzle Walk is a subtle workout for mind. There’s plenty to keep the kids busy and the restaurant serves light refreshments. Open daily from 09h00-17h00.