Plettenberg Bay Travel Guide, Garden Route, South Africa

Plettenberg Bay Central Beach.
© plettenberg bay tourism

For miles of beaches, safe swimming, hikes and whale watching on a Garden Route holiday, Plettenberg Bay is a tranquil and friendly seaside riviera.


Plettenberg Bay Travel Guide

This Garden Route town is located alongside a natural lagoon and the sea, with wetlands and forests, mountains and fynbos (wild shrubs) in abundance. These 5 biospheres create a diversity of habitats for flora and fauna to thrive.

This jewel on the upper Garden Route encompasses 18km (11 miles) of beaches, the Robberg Nature Reserve and the Keurbooms River. Greater Plettenberg Bay is accessed along the N2 highway between Knysna and Tsitsikamma National Park.

Surrounded by natural beauty, Plettenberg Bay is an active centre by day and alive with great restaurants, pubs and busy nightlife in the evenings. Its sunny climate and mild winters attract sophisticated jetsetters from far and wide. The Plettenberg Bay lagoon and beaches are perfect for families and watersports of all kinds flourish on this coast.

The fascinating history of this Garden Route town stretches back to the Middle Stone Age. Archaeological digs are still unearthing finds from this era. Since then, there has been quite a procession of visitors and residents from diverse backgrounds enjoying Bahia Formosa, "Bay Beautiful" as it was named by a Portuguese explorer in the 1500's.

The communities of greater Plettenberg Bay now include Harkerville, The Crags, Kranshoek, New Horizons and KwaNokuthula and Keurbooms. Plettenberg Bay is about 2 hours drive from Port Elizabeth and 6 hours drive from Cape Town, Western Cape. There is an airport in the town for private air charters, whereas scheduled flights on local carriers come in to George Airport which is just over an hours drive away to the south.

Plettenberg Bay Accommodation

A variety of Garden Route accommodation is offered to suit all needs from sophisticated to self-catering. Back-to-nature resorts and cottages can be found in fabulous settings or guests can settle in town, close to shops, restaurants and classy café culture. A cultural overnight home-stay or bed and breakfast can also be arranged in the local townships.

On a wonderful Garden Route holiday here, visitors can stay in a number of settings. There is a rocky peninsula, miles of beaches and tranquil lagoons. Nature enthusiasts can choose from a variety of forest, riverside and hilly fynbos covered settings. Golfers will also find just what they want on two 18-hole fairways or adjacent in Plettenberg Bay guest houses.

There is a wide selection of Plettenberg Bay guest houses and bed & breakfast establishments as well as world class hotels to choose from. Caravanning, camping and backpacking is also catered for in this beautiful area.

Plettenberg Bay guest house options:

Plettenberg Bay Attractions

On a Plettenberg Bay holiday, visitors enjoy stunning sea views and endless golden beaches, golfing, polo, fabulous nature reserves and wildlife.

Harkerville

This rural community on the edge of the Diepwalle Reserve is surrounded by stunning indigenous forest and is superb for forest picnics and hiking. Another Garden Route attraction is the Harvest Time Saturday Morning Market, for fresh food produce and craft.

The Crags

Polo is a top Plettenberg Bay attraction and well supported year round. The Crags is about 20 minutes from town with cafés, art and craft, a theatre and wildlife sanctuaries.

Robberg Nature Reserve

On the way to a world heritage status, this Plettenberg Bay reserve has long sandy beaches and a peninsula. There are 3 circular walks, caves of archaeological significance and the cliffs offer superb views of Dolphin and Whale activity along the coastline.

Keurbooms River and Nature Reserve

Stretching up the river for around 6km (4 miles) visitors can explore the peaceful waterways and riverbanks; there are several secluded beaches and picnic spots including Whiskey Creek which is only accessible by boat.

Wildlife

Garden Route Whale watching is especially popular here, there are several excellent look-out points and many Plettenberg Bay guest houses and hotels have viewing decks overlooking the sea. There are more than 260 bird species for bird watching enthusiasts and game reserves for safaris. Scuba Divers can explore the beautiful soft coral reefs and wonderful marine life of this rich inter-tidal eco system. Another creature of note is the rare silver-spotted caterpillar.

Plettenberg Bay Activities

Plettenberg Bay holiday highlights are undoubtedly the beaches, rivers and the bay, ideal conditions enhance all watersports. At night a variety of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs come to life. For enjoyable activities, this Plettenberg Bay guide gives an overview:

Beaches:

There are many here, favourites include Central Beach, Keurboomstrand and Knoetzie.

Khoisan history and Township Tours:

Ancient Khoisan artefacts can be seen at Nelson Bay and Matjes River Caves. KwaNokuthula offers Xhosa cultural tours to meet the vibrant community. Traditional remedies are made here from the abundant flowers and plants. New Horizons is great for Cape Malay cooking and storytelling.

Birdwatching, hiking and mountain biking:

Four unique habitats of wetland, coastal, forest and fynbos attract various bird species namely the Oystercatcher on the coast, Orangebreasted Sunbird in fynbos, the Knysna Loerie and Narina Trogan in indigenous forest. There are many excellent hiking routes throughout this region and exciting mountain bike trails in Harkerville forest and elsewhere for a thrilling Plettenberg Bay holiday.

Sanctuaries and wildlife:

Monkeyland and Birds of Eden - the only multi species free roaming primate sanctuary and largest single-span aviary in the world.

Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre - offers a truly unique Wildcat Experience that will touch the heart and make wonderful memories.

Elephant Sanctuary - touch, feed, walk trunk-in-hand and even ride these magnificent animals on a Garden Route holiday.

Game Reserve and safaris - for a Big Four safari - Lion, Rhino, Buffalo and Leopard, around 400 animals on a Plettenberg Bay game reserve.

Local produce

Mampoer (citrus liqueur) and Witblits (fiery spirits) Distillery tours. Harvest Time Saturday Market, for breakfast and local goods. Cheese tastings and Wine Farm tours held locally. Art galleries, craft and jewellery design all found in the area.

Diving

The PADI dive centre in Plettenberg Bay offers a variety of courses. On the reef divers can see Butterflyfish, Zebra, Doublesash, Elf and Yellowbelly Rockcod to name a few.

Keurbooms River and Reserve

There is a 2 day Keurbooms Canoe Trail with overnight stay in a hut. Visitors can also take a ferry trip on the river, or hire their own boat from the Angling Club.

Water Adventure Parks

Always a favourite Plettenberg Bay attraction, there are 2 in the area. Fun water slides, swings, trampolines, mini-golf and barbeque areas are some of the features.

Other Plettenberg Bay activities in the area

  • Horse Riding and Polo
  • Golf - two 18-hole courses par 72
  • Abseiling and Bungi Jumping
  • Skydiving, scenic flights and gliding
  • Sailing and sea kayaking
  • Sea safaris, boating and fishing charters