Easy does it in Langebaan
By Adel Groenewald
There’s a time and a place for everything. In Langebaan, however, the place sets the time and it’s always time to slow down. Even as I drove into town, only 120 kilometres north of Cape Town, I could feel my nerves unclench and my body synchronise to the West Coast’s noticeably chilled pace.
As every seaside town should, Langebaan’s roads all make their way towards the ocean in some way or another, but what singles out this particular coastal getaway is that an untroubled lagoon rather than crashing waves greets you as you let your toes free in the sand.
The town sits on the eastern shore of the Langebaan Lagoon, which is where it all happens. Most of the restaurants, houses and scenic walkways fringe the water and an earlymorning amble along the sandy shoreline reveals many fishermen already waist deep, awaiting the catch of the day. When the sun is high, families take to the water on yachts and in kayaks and as late-afternoon winds ruffle the lagoon’s surface, children splash in shallow water, kites appear in the sky and windsurfer silhouettes bounce off the water.
Without making a fuss, Langebaan simply waits for you to arrive, make yourself at home and allow the wind to mess up your hair.
VISIT THE WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK
Just south of Langebaan, the reserve is a wild flower paradise during August and September. Pay a daily conservation fee of R34 and enjoy a range of activities. Tel 012 428 9111, [email protected], www.sanparks.org.
Explore the Postberg Section, only open during August and September, and admire wild flowers and animals such as bontebok, kudu and red hartebeest.
Braai or picnic at Tsaarbank and keep your eyes peeled for whales between August and October.
Spend hours lazing at the serene Kraalbaai beach.
Hike either the Strandveld or Postberg two-day trail or enjoy one of several halfday walks in the park.
Stop at the bird hides near Geelbek, Seeberg and Abrahamskraal to spot grey plover, curlew sandpiper or frolicking flamingos.
Take your mountain bike and choose between the 13-kilometre Green Trail and the 17-kilometre Red Trail. You can also cycle along the tarred roads.
DO THIS IN LANGEBAAN
WATERSPORTS IN LANGEBAAN
Langebaan might be the only place where a characteristically windy afternoon sends a ripple of excitement through town. Watch from the rooftop bar at Cape Sports Centre in Main Street (tel 022 772 1114) as beginners and professionals gear up and head out for some serious kite- and windsurfing. Then build up the courage to book your own lessons – it will be one of your fondest West Coast memories. If sailing is more your thing, take lessons or book a cruise with Hobie Cat, also in Main Street (tel 022 772 2445).
LANGEBAAN BOOZE CRUISE
Embrace life at sea, drink in hand, aboard the Sea Stallion II. Whether you choose a sunset cruise on the lagoon, overnight at Kraal Bay or a Shark Bay trip, West Coast Life will satisfy your nautical needs. Tel 022 772 0550.
The beaches are sure to encourage laziness and extended reading sessions, but plan your visits for the mornings as the wind picks up in the afternoon. Sandbaai, at the southernmost point of town, is a narrow beach beside the yacht club, or a 20-minute walk north will bring you to Langebaan Main Beach (locals call it Pearly’s Beach) spread out in both directions so you’ll easily find a quiet spot. Head even further north to Calypso Beach, which is a little more secluded and set in a wealthy residential area with ample parking. Alongside Club Mykonos you’ll find Hobie Beach, fringed with beach bars and bustling restaurants.
FOSSILS IN LANGEBAAN
Five million years ago, the area east of Langebaan was a swampy oasis inhabited by animals we’ll never meet face-to-face. Visit the West Coast Fossil Park (about 30 kilometres from Langebaan) at the excavation site on the R45 and see fossilised bones of creatures such as short-necked giraffe and four-tusked elephant. Guided tours cost R50 a person. Tel 022 766 1606.
EAT HERE IN LANGEBAAN
FRESH SEAFOOD IN LANGEBAAN
The sand from Langebaan Main Beach brushes onto the sheltered deck of Pearly’s (tel 022 772 2734), a local favourite in Beach Road. Watch the sunset out of the wind and dig into large portions of seafood – I can vouch for the grilled Cajun-styled calamari – or thin-based pizzas. Over weekends, be prepared to wait a few minutes for a table. Pop over to Driftwood’s (tel 022 772 1413) next door if you fancy sushi. There’s also a variety of seafood and grills from which to choose.
FAMILY FAVOURITE IN LANGEBAAN
Take a short stroll north from Main Beach and pop out on Friday Island’s lawns. Sit down for freshly caught fish or classic and light crispy-battered hake and chips. A first-class spot for watching windsurfers. Tel 022 772 2506.
DINNER WITH FRIENDS IN LANGEBAAN
Lekka by die See, fronted by Hobie Beach and sprawling green lawns, is a little off the main drag and serves killer seafood combos and burgers. Tel 082 560 2389.
COUNTRY FARE IN LANGEBAAN
To admire the lagoon from a higher vantage point, visit Farmhouse Hotel in Egret Road for a stylish, country lunch on the patio. Take a breather from fried fish and try the wholesome chicken pie with salad. Booking essential. Tel 022 772 2062.
BEST SPOT FOR LUNCH IN LANGEBAAN
A scenic drive through West Coast National Park brings you to Geelbek Restaurant where you can sit on the airy stoep of the restored national monument first built in 1744. Taste South Africa’s heritage with the fragrant Malay curry or opt for a spinach, butternut and feta quiche. Tel 022 772 2134.
BEACH BRAAI IN LANGEBAAN
Witness Langebaan’s most impressive beach braai and tuck into a grand seafood buffet at Boesmanland Plaaskombuis. Large wooden tables and a very relaxed atmosphere make for a merry group jaunt. Tel 022 772 1564
WHERE TO STAY IN LANGEBAAN
SELF-CATERING IN LANGEBAAN
Langebaan is a gold mine of affordable, self-catering homes and flats rented out by the owners and which offer great value for money. I stayed in Langebaan Beach Cottage, a five-minute walk from Sandbaai. The fully equipped six-sleeper bursts with potential for an unforgettable family holiday: a large, rustic dining table, couches to sink into and an outside entertainment area that invites you to kick off your shoes and unpack the board games. From R1 000 a night for the house. Tel 082 469 3352, www.langebaanbeachcottage.co.za.
For other self-catering options, check out Langebaan Country Estate (tel 022 772 2112, www.langebaanestate.co.za.), where flats and houses surround a golf course.
GUEST HOUSES IN LANGEBAAN
The attentive hospitality at Le Mahi Guest House in Sleigh Street makes you feel looked after. With only four rooms to attend to, your merry hosts put special thought into every morning’s breakfast, served in the sunny upstairs dining room. Stylish, individually decorated rooms each have a private outside area, Wi-Fi and DStv. From R340 a person a night sharing. Tel 082-895-9891, email [email protected] lemahi.co.za, www.lemahi.co.za.
ACTIVE HOLIDAYS IN LANGEBAAN
Ten minutes from the town centre, you’ll find Wacky Bush Lodge, with large, dorm-style rooms and an activity centre offering a range of excursions. There are also double and family rooms, all with direct access to a wrap-around porch. The pool, outside bar and bistro will help you while away the hours not spent on horseback, wet bike or kayak. From R220 a person a night sharing. Tel 079 709 5809, email [email protected], www.thewackybushlodge.com.
At Club Mykonos, buzzing restaurants, shops and lively music are grouped together beside the ocean. Greek-styled cobblestone streets wind between whitewashed self-catering flats, each with brightly coloured window frames and doors. Inside you’ll typically find an openplan kitchen, lounge, dining area, balcony and DStv. Take advantage of the beach and swimming pools reserved for overnight guests. From R1 000 a unit for a one-bedroom unit and R1 250 a unit for a two-bedroom unit. Peak season package deals start at R11 900 for seven nights. Tel 022 707 7000, email [email protected], www.clubmykonos.co.za.
GETTING TO LANGEBAAN
From Cape Town, hop onto the R27 (Marine Drive) and follow it north for about 110 kilometres until you see the Langebaan turn-off at an Engen fuel station.
Source: Getaway Magazine