The Garden Route is acknowledged as one of the most majestically beautiful places in South Africa and Still Bay is no exception. The village is 30 kilometres off the N2 and 41 kilometres from Riversdale, on the banks of the Goukou River estuary. Its quiet, beautiful, unspoiled seaside setting has ensured its popularity with retirees and holidaymakers since 1894, as has its neighbouring town, Mossel Bay.
Still Bay encompasses the villages of Jongensfontein and Melkhoutfontein. The area is clean and is often cited for its safety and harmony. Its position on the Indian Ocean and its pristine white beaches have made it a great destination for seaside recreation. It offers safe swimming, and Lappiesbaai beach has Blue Flag status. Also popular are wind- and kite-surfing, sailing, snorkelling and scuba-diving and the excellent beach-, rock-, deep-sea and river-fishing.
The river allows boating and canoeing for about 14 kilometres upstream, and at Palinggat, a farmhouse built in 1814, there is a large population of tame eels that visitors may feed at 11am daily.
The limestone in the area created natural springs attractive to ancient humans, whose fish traps are still visible at low tide (some are still used).
Middle and Late Stone Age artefacts have been found here. Later, the Khoi-Khoi people lived here but clashed with Dutch settlers and were killed by smallpox in 1713.
The estuary has an amazingly wealth of species of marine and the forest and fynbos in the region ensures spectacular bird life. The mild temperatures and sunshine are ideal for holidaymaking: summer temperatures average about 24 degrees Celsius and average winter temperatures are between 12 and 20 degrees.
Visitors can shop at supermarkets and upmarket gift shops. There are restaurants, doctors, pharmacies and a clinic. Accommodation ranges from camp and caravan sites to self-catering chalets and luxury guesthouses.
Look out for
Jongensfontein –a small coastal village 10 kilometres east of Still Bay on a river mouth. It is ideal for relaxing, with spectacular ocean views. The historic little White House or “fonteinhuisie” serves as a local museum and information centre.
Melkhoutfontein – seven kilometres inland from Still Bay - is mainly home to the descendants of the original fishermen of this area. The Soete-Arbeid Craft Centre, an art workshop, and the Soete-Inval Botanical Garden at the Soeterus Care Centre, are run by the local community. The garden has fynbos species from around the province and is lovely in spring.
The small, bustling fishing harbour is a wonderful attraction, primarily selling hake and cob.
Whale-watching (July-October) - the Garden Route from Still Bay to Tsitsikamma hosts southern right whales in season, humpbacks (May-December), Bryde's whales all year round, with occasional sightings of Orcas. There is a good vantage point on a hill above the harbour.
The Pauline Bohnen and Geelkrans Nature Reserves in Still Bay are on the flower route. The 3550-hectare Rein's Coastal Nature Reserve is a private reserve between Still Bay and Gouritzmond on a section of unspoilt and beautiful rocky coastline with pristine fynbos. Nearby are the Outeniqua and Wilderness National Parks.
Hiking routes wind along the coast and along the river. The Noordkapper Hiking Trail follows the coastline to Jongensfontein. The West Bank Route is a fairly easy route offering excellent bird watching. The Pauline Bohnen Route has ocean views and dune fynbos. Lappiesbaai Beach Route is easy at low tide and great for whale-watching in season.
Surfing - the conditions are renowned and the best in the area, with advanced surfers practising at the rocky Morris Point Cape above the Still Bay harbour.
Golf – there are beautiful coastal golf courses in Still Bay and Mossel Bay.
Cycling – riding out to Jongensfontein and Preekstoel offers spectacular coastal views.