1. A Natural Paradise between Mountains & Sea
Close your eyes and breathe. Ever smelled such fresh, clean mountain and sea air?
Open your eyes and watch! Ever seen so much beauty in one place?
Mountains, sea, wildflowers and a zillion wild and wonderful creatures on land, sea and sky within a radius of 25 km? Ah - now we are getting there. Chances are good that once you've seen the myriads of indigenous wildlife species and watched dolphins and whales surf the waves, you will never want to leave again! Just keeping your eyes, nostrils and ears open is the best way to experience this idyllic Eden where nature flaunts her finest and fieriest assets. Even man's earliest ancestors chose the De Kelders Caves surrounded by abundant plant, animal and sea life to settle more than 80 000 years ago - that surely says something! Read more
2. Great White Sharks
Hop on a boat or a plane to learn more about the Great White Sharks that love our coast . . . especially the big fat seals that breed on Geyser Rock! If you are brave, you can even study them at arm's length from behind the steel bars of a cage. En route to Dyer Island, you will most likely pass a few other amazing creatures in the water or in the sky.
Gansbaai is the best shark cage diving destiny in the world thanks to the rich sea life and the colonies of Cape Fur Seals that hang out in "Shark Alley" between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. Dyer Island is also an acclaimed bird sanctuary where rare species such as the African Penguin, Cape Cormorant, African Black Oystercatcher and the Hartlaub’s Gull feed and breed. Between July and December, the coastline is alive with the antics of the Southern Right Whales that visit our shores to date, mate and calve. Gansbaai also offers some of the best packages in the world for viewing the Marine Big Five from land, sea or sky. Read more
3. World Class Whale Watching
The entire coastline between Pearly Beach in the south and Hermanus is world-renowned for being one of the best whale watching spots in the world. One does not have to look for them - they are all over and not shy to boot. Whether one watches them from any of the many vantage points along the rocky shores, or from one of the many Whale Watching boats, they regularly come to within a few metres of their spectators. At night, their unmistakable blowing and grunting can be heard up to 2 km away. The world’s only whale crier is found in nearby Hermanus.
Watching their antics and joyful escapades along their newborn calves at close range is an exhilarating and enthralling experience not to be missed. Read more
4. Pristine beaches
Hit the beach with a picnic basket and an umbrella for a day of fun in the sun. Gansbaai has a variety of pristine beaches, as well as tidal and rock pools for safe swimming and a day of leisure at the water's edge. Die Plaat, between Hermanus and De Kelders, is a 17 km stretch of white sand beach and rocky outcrops in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve that is ideal for fishing, beach activities, picnicking, hiking and water sport. Swimmers and surfers must be cautious of strong under-currents as there are no lifeguards on duty.
Just around the corner is Stanford's Bay, a protected cove in the middle of De Kelders sporting a lush green lawn. This is a popular spot for family picnics and safe swimming. The Duiwelsgat hiking trail leads from there to a big natural tidal pool en route to the Gansbaai harbour. It is also a safe venue for swimming and picnicking.
To the east of the Danger Point Peninsula is the Kleinbaai tidal pool and several rock pools - a picture-perfect venue for swimming and rock angling with sweeping views across the sea and Dyer Island. The main beach area stretches from Franskraal past the Uilenkraalsmond Lagoon to Pearly Beach. Pristine white sand dunes and an endless beach annually attract thousands of weekenders and holidaymakers.
In peak season, lifesavers guard the designated swimming area. The Uilenkraalsmond Estuary and lagoon is also popular for birding, rowing, swimming and water sport. A stiff beach walk or a 20 km drive takes you to Pearly Beach, where undulating sand dunes and ocean meet the horizon as far as the eye can see.
Gansbaai has a beach for every reason and every season! Read more
5. Horse riding
But let's not put the cart before the horse. Horse-riding in the Gansbaai region is a horse of a totally different colour - and we don't mean "dark horse" here!
We have a variety of overnight adventure trails taking you along mountains, valleys and epic beaches from Walker Bay to Pearly Beach and Baardskeerdersbos. Cantering on horseback through fields where more than a thousand indigenous plant species and some 350 bird species flourish in various multi-hued landscapes and habitats, is a gifted horse NOT to look in the mouth! Tailor-made hourly beach rides, as well as sunset and moonlight rides, cater for all whims and wants of riders of all levels of experience. Read more
6. Hiking Trails
Don those dandy boots made for walking and embark on any of a dozen hiking trails taking you through indigenous Milkwood forests, flowering fynbos fields, epic beaches and mountain landscapes. The diverse habitats in and around Gansbaai make this area a paradise for hiking, biking, 4x4 rides, birding and outdoor adventures.
The Platbos hiking trail runs along Africa's southernmost forest. Platbos is an ancient, indigenous forest on the slopes of the Baviaanspoort Hills on the Grootbos Road just outside Stanford, the largest remaining fragment of the orginal Swartkransberg Forests - lowland forests of the fynbos biome. It predominantly hosts wild olive, white pear and white stinkwood trees, as well as Milkwoods and some species of the Afromontane forest. Other popular hiking trails include the Klipgat or Duiwelsgat trail between Gansbaai harbour and Walker Bay, the Grootmelkhoutbos trail in Franskraal's conservation area, as well as various fynbos trails on inland farms and the Grootbos Nature Reserve. Coastal trails wind all along the shoreline from Pearly Beach to Uilenkraalsmond, Franskraal, Kleinbaai and around Danger Point to Walker Bay and Die Plaat. All the trails offer breathtaking sea and mountain views and a kaleidoscope of wildflowers, animals and bird species. Read more
Dig out the fishing rod and follow the spoor of tens of beach and rock anglers lined up along the endless shore on any given day. The Gansbaai coastline is a fisherman's paradise and probably the single most popular weekend and holiday relaxation for stressed male folks. Nothing tastes better around a campfire than a fat galjoen, kabeljou or steenbras fresh from the sea and sizzling on the coals. Most residents and holiday home owners also have a boat to go hunting the evasive deep sea species such as hake and kabeljou.
An overnight fishing expedition on one of the local pelagic fishermen's boats is an awesome experience IF you have strong sea legs. In Gansbaai, like in most coastal havens, the golden rule applies: Never interfere with a fisherman's trolls or tales or toils! Read more
8. Arts & Culture
Explore the rich culture and heritage sites of this area, known for both its tranquility and wild, natural elements. The Strandveld Museum on the shore of Franskraal harbours a huge collection of relics and artifacts that depict the lives and loves of the earliest inhabitants of the Strandveld region. Owners Jan and S.D. Fourie not only know the history and stories of this area by heart, they also have the proof and narrative talent to make them come alive. Both are acclaimed writers and storytellers with a passion for this area and its colourful history. Come listen how Sophie Lourens on stormy nights deliberately used a lantern to lure the ships closer to the rocky shore so that her father could loot the bounty from the wrecks! The Strandveld Museum also boasts the biggest collection of relics of the famous HM Birkenhead troopship and other shipwrecks that perished in the perilous waters between Danger Point and Cape Infanta.
The Danger Point Lighthouse between Kleinbaai and Gansbaai is a historical beacon built in 1895 to commemorate the many lives lost at sea and to prevent more tragedies. Visitors can climb the steps to the top of the lighthouse for sweeping views across the entire Danger Point Peninsula. The notorious Birkenhead Rock against which the troopship met her doom, can also be seen at low tide.
The famous Drupkelder Caves and the Klipgat Caves between De Kelders and Walker Bay are both of world heritage significance. This is where the earliest ancestors of modern man lived some 80 000 years ago in the Middle Stone Age times and where Khoikhoi pastoralists already kept sheep, cattle and dogs some 2 000 years ago. Excavated remains, including animal bones and tools fashioned from bone, shells and rock, are safe-guarded in the Iziko SA Museum.
The Drupkelder Caves with its mineral water pools and impressive stalagmites and stalactites used to be a popular holiday site a century ago. Lady Anne Barnard visited it in 1798. It is now the source of drinking water for De Kelders and Gansbaai and access is limited to guided tours. Read more
9. Bird Watching
Pack the binoculars and prepare for a different kind of chick flick! Birding in the greater Gansbaai area comes natural - you cannot miss the colourful display of feathery fellows flickering and floating by. The diversity of habitats provide for over 350 different bird species, of which many are indigenous to this area. Conspicuous nectar-feeding jewels such as the Malachite and Orange-breasted Sunbird, and the Cape Sugardbird enliven the swathes of flowering fynbos, whilst the impressive wingspan of raptors such as the Black Harrier, African Fish-Eagle and Jackal and Forest Buzzard cast looming shadows over the multi-hued landscapes. This area is also home to the African Paradise-Flycatcher, Knysna Woodpecker, Blue Crane and pelagic species such as the Shy Albatross and Sooty Shearwater. Read more
10. Food & Wine
Take a break and tantalise your taste buds on our local wines or Birkenhead beer at any of the pub & grubs in the area while waiting for the chef to prepare the catch of the day. A Bohemian bouquet of pubs, diners and more formal restaurants cater for a wide variety of tastes and temperaments. Many of the restaurants have outdoor decks that offer spectacular sea views. A few selected diners also serve 5-star cuisine and gourmet seafood dishes. Or embark on a wine and beer tasting tour along the scenic routes to neighbouring Stanford, Hermanus, Baardskeerdersbos and Napier. Other activities and attractions include a 4x4 obstacle course, quad bike trails, a putt-putt course, waterwurm, a 9-hole golf course with sea views, kayaking, paintball, visits to Dyer Island, township tours and many more. Read more