Things to Do in West Coast West Coast Overview
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Duckitt Nurseries is the largest orchid nursery in South Africa, if not the southern hemisphere. They specialise in growing Cymbidium orchids as cut flowers, mainly for export to Europe and the USA while many other varieties and hybrids are sold as pot plants in South Africa.
The nursery is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month from May to November from 09:00 to 12:00, where visitors will experience a spectacle of incredible flowers. Entrance is free, and plants and flowers are for sale in the pack-shed. The green house with the most spectacular display of flowers is also opened to the public.
Don't miss the annual Orchid Show on Oude Post Farm on the third weekend in September (which takes place at the same time at the Darling Wild Flower Show). This is a fully landscaped show with a tea room and sales area. Many popular and interesting new varieties of orchids can be purchased.
Trip up the spiral staircase of Cape Columbine Lighthouse and gaze at jaw-dropping views of the formidable Britannia reef and Atlantic Ocean.
Fortress-like and spectacularly situated on a windswept headland, Cape Columbine Lighthouse is usually the first lighthouse sighted by ships coming from South America and Europe.
The prominent rocky point is just five kilometres from the quaint fishing village of Paternoster and is definitely worth a visit. Not only to explore the lighthouse, but also for the stark beauty of the surrounding Columbine Nature Reserve. In spring the reserve is strewn with wild flowers and the coastline is renowned for its sea life, particularly crayfish and abalone.
Built in 1936, Columbine was the first South African lighthouse to receive all three navigational safety features – a light, a fog signal and a radio beacon. The impressive lens system was also the first designed to use a 4kW incandescent electric lamp instead of wick or petroleum burners. Today it is one of the last manned lighthouses on the South African coast and offers interesting guided tours.
Mondays to Fridays: 10:00 – 15:00
Weekends and public holidays: October to April 10:00 – 15:00; May to September by reservation only
Entrance fee: adults R13.70; children under 12 R6.90.
West Coast National Park
Postberg is one of the best places on the West Coast to see fields of wild flowers. This section of the West Coast National Park is only open to visitors during spring.
You can do some game viewing from your own vehicle. It’s easy to spot a variety of antelope ranging from Africa's largest, the eland, to pronking springbok or maybe a shy little greysbok.
Ostrich and their chicks wander about and if you've got sharp eyes you will discover tortoises, field mice, mongoose and myriads of birds, bees and butterflies. There are also a few great viewpoints for whale watching.
Picnic, barbecue and ablution facilities are available for day visitors. There is a shop at the entrance that sells various field guidebooks. Entry is free to Wild Card holders.
Langebaan Country Estate features a beautiful 18-hole golf course, set amongst the splendid natural surroundings of Langebaan, teeming with flowers and wildlife.
This Gary Player inspired course will provide a good challenge to players of all skill levels. The clubhouse is open to visitors, members and residents alike, and boats lovely facilities such as a restaurant, lounge, a dedicated smoking area at the bar, and even an under-cover braai area. The on-site pro shop is well stocked to match any golfer's needs.
Additional facilities include a driving range and mashie course, perfect for practising, or just to enjoy a quick and relaxed round with the family.
Langebaan’s main beach is long, wide, white and sandy, providing an amazing launch spot for numerous lagoon-based watersports.
This family friendly, safe beach is right in the centre of Langebaan and is easily accessible. The main road leading to Langebaan Beach is conveniently lined with shops and restaurants.
Galleries and Museums
Five million years ago the Cape’s West Coast was very different from what it is today. A wide range of animals (now extinct) lived in riverine forests, wooded savannah, and ocean as well as on offshore islands.
Phosphate mining operations at Langebaanweg uncovered one of the richest fossil sites in the world.
Over the past 40 years bones of 200 different kinds of animals, many of them new to science have been recovered. A few years after mining operations ceased in 1993, a 14 hectare fossil-rich area within the mine property was declared a National Heritage Site.
The West Coast Fossil Park, a component of Iziko Museums, offers visitors an opportunity to have an on-site fossil experience.
Learn about mysterious ancient environments, fascinating animal life and the climatic changes that occurred in this region 5 million years ago on a guided tour. The West Coast Fossil Park also has a kiddie’s play park, gift shop, picnic areas as well as a lovely coffee shop.
Need to know? The main tour runs from 11:30 – 13:00 every day of the week and includes a slide presentation and visit to the dig site. Mini tours are available every hour from 9:00 –15:00 weekdays (except at 12:00); phone +27 (0) 22 766 1606 for mini tour times over weekends and public holidays. The mini tour includes a visit to the dig site.
West Coast National Park
About an hour’s drive north of Cape Town, the West Coast National Park stretches from Yzerfontein up to the edge of Langebaan.
The park surrounds most of the enormous Langebaan Lagoon, a water sports junkie’s paradise with awesome kayaking, snorkelling and some of the best windsurfing and kite surfing on the planet.
In summer, migratory water birds flock in thousands from as far away as northern Eurasia. In the middle of the lagoon is Schaapen Island, a bird sanctuary that is off limits, but you can paddle close to it and watch the garrulous marine birds.
The park is a good place for cycling and spotting eland and small animals but the star attraction is the spring wildflower spectacle. Kraalbaai has a few lovely houseboats for rent and there’s a superb restaurant at Geelbek. Bicycles and canoes can be hired in Langebaan.
Four By Four Trails
Buffelsfontein 4x4 is a sand route in the Buffelsfontein Nature Reserve just outside Yzerfontein. An entry fee is asked per vehicle and possibly per person. This is a fantastic adventure for the family as the trail has a grading of 1 to 3 and has a braai and picnic spot in the halfway mark of the route. The trail is 14 km long on a two-way drive, one-way is 7 km, and takes 1 to 3 hours to complete - you can redo this trail as many times as you like. It is recommended that drivers take a spade and maybe a compressor in case.
Blue Water Bay
Bluewater Bay is a beautiful stretch of beach that is great for swimming, fishing and surfing. In peak season the beach is patrolled by life guards, and there is a kids playground and ablution facilities available.
Langebaan Lagoon is a salt-water body of water which has been the main attraction for visitors and residents of Langebaan alike.
It's soft white sands make for excellent swimming and water sports of many varieties. On a windless day, put your kayak to water, or see the day breaking on a stand-up paddle board. Welcome the wind with a kite, windsurf board or sailing dinghy.
Four By Four Trails
This route is in the Maskam Mountain with stunning views of the valley.
The route itself is very challenging; you'll need skills and a real 4 x 4 vehicle to enjoy this ride. There are also braai facilities high up in the mountain. This is a very enjoyable and adventurous family outing.
Calypso Beach on Langebaan Lagoon is a pristine West-facing beach with warm water. As there are no currents, it is perfect for swimming and bodysurfing in small waves. Occasionally there are surfing conditions when large winter swell wraps through the lagoon mouth.
The water is shallow and inviting and the beach has some windless zones neatly tucked out of the South Easter. The best part about this beach is the ease of access and privacy.
Come and enjoy the beauty of the West Coast on horseback with Drikus Horse Trails.
There are various horse trails upon request, both for experienced and novice riders. From '1 hour' trips to weekend party trips, you'll find something that will suite your needs. Stabling and camps are provided for visiting horses.
Galleries and Museums
Get in your karretjie and head to Darling's Evita se Perron, a cabaret theatre started by Evita Bezuidenhout aka Pieter Dirk Uys, South Africa's famous satirist.
Perron means 'station platform' in Afrikaans and here you will find Voortrekker Monument kitsch rivaling apartheid signs – it's a place where everyone has a chance to laugh and/or cry, then remember and celebrate that we are no longer there. Tannie believes that by acknowledging where we come from, we will understand where we are going.
"In the bad old days when very few people had the vote, passenger trains steamed into Darling Station from Cape Town on a daily basis. Now everyone has the vote and there are no more passenger trains but the station has survived, thanks to a small group of darlings who did all they could to prevent the little pink blikgebou from being demolished. Darling Station is now an international port of call. The gravy train does not stop here anymore, but every tourist bus and visitors' Merc does. Our kitchen serves Tannie's legendary braai en slaai, roast lamb or bobotie, flanked by koeksisters en melktert. The droewors and biltong snack-platter, washed down with our excellent local wines makes for a special experience."
The beautiful historical Vensterklip Farm has a lovely cosy pub and restaurant built inside a 300-year-old barn! This pub teems with life and has an warm and welcoming Afrikaner atmosphere.