Paternoster

Lapping turquoise water, clean white beaches, little white houses with touches of blue and green. We could be anywhere in the Mediterranean – except for the faint whiff of bokkoms and the occasional ‘Hoesit Bra!’ from the parking lot.

We are in Paternoster, an hour and a half up the West Coast from Cape Town…and it’s the middle of winter so it should be storming and wild. But we are lucky enough to be here on a secret season weekend – those days in between the cold fronts when the weather is balmy with no wind and temperatures in the low 20s – the best time of year on the West Coast.

Paternoster is one of the few places along this coast to retain its simple fishing village beauty – probably due to the strict building codes and the fleet of fishing boats pulled up on the beach.

Life here is hard for the local fishermen. They make a living catching and selling crayfish straight from their boats during the short season from November to April. There is very little to catch for the rest of the year.

The beach in Paternoster is wide and long and never feels crowded – perfect for a game of cricket or rugby.

Die Winkel op Paternoster, known by the locals as Oep vir Koep, does a good trade in pickles, jams and shabby chic memorabilia.

The best places to grab a bite to eat are Voorstrand and Gaaitjie right on the beach or The Noisy Oyster on the main road, which is closed for a mid-winter break while we are here.

About 10 minutes drive from Paternoster is the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve – granite bouldered beaches, dry fynbos and spectacular views.

Within the reserve itself is Titiesbaai, probably best known for its bumper sticker.

The coves along this coastline are great for snorkeling if you can handle the icy water, and one of the best bodydoarding waves in South Africa breaks just off the coast.

The kids love exploring the rockpools full of sea life, clambering over the huge boulders, collecting shells and investigating the caves in the sandstone cliffs.

So if you find yourself in the Cape with a few days to spare and the forecast looks good, head up the coast and experience the Weskus.

Keen to visit South Africa? Check out Mbotyi River Lodge, one of Africa Geographic's Special Places.

About Gillian Hazell

Gillian Hazell was born and raised in Johannesburg, but now lives in Cape Town with her husband and two children. She works part-time as a physiotherapist, and has a passion for nature and the ocean. With her family she spends at least some part of every week interacting with nature, whether it’s exploring rock pools, spending time in the sea, working in her organic veggie garden, or walking one of the many easy trails around Cape Town. She wishes her children to grow up loving the incredible African continent and realising how fortunate they are to be able to experience wildlife in it’s natural habitat.

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