Back in the days of fully manned lighthouses, 1 of the sweetest postings you could have in South Africa was to be assigned the duty of the Cape St Blaize light-keeper – because is stands right next to the bustling seaside town of Mossel Bay, between the Garden Route and the southern Cape.

Did you know?

St Blaize is the patron saint of people who suffer from sore throats.

Cape St Blaize is a rocky promontory that juts out to sea and is part of the Mossel Bay town structure.

There’s a huge cave at Cape St Blaize that was once occupied by Khoikhoi hunter-gatherers, who probably had the finest ocean-view residence in Africa at the time.

Looming above the cave is the still-working Cape St Blaize lighthouse, which was always a favoured posting among the South African light-keeper community.

Often light-keepers and their families were sent to far-flung coastal places, where they lived in isolation and where schooling and supplies were a constant logistical headache.

This particular lighthouse stands in one of the most active, booming towns along the Western Cape coastline. There have always been good shops and schools and a welcoming community available to the ocean guardians sent there.

The building of the Cape St Blaize lighthouse was completed in March 1864. The tower has a spectacular placement on a cliff overlooking both Mossel Bay and the passing ocean lanes.

In his landmark book called Southern Lights – Lighthouses of South Africa, author Harold Williams says that in 1880 a public works official complained of the lighthouse that: ‘Quarters and light satisfactory, but goats must not be kept in the quarters.’

Williams comments: ‘It must be assumed that he had in fact discovered goats or evidence of them in the living quarters – strange bedfellows?’

The lighthouse is fully automated these days, but still manned by light-keepers who maintain radio watch and do meteorological studies.

Up until the late 1970s, however, the lens turned on a clockwork system, which meant that a light-keeper had to ascend the tower and wind it up at three-hour intervals.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mossel Bay Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)44 691 2202
Email: admin@visitmosselbay.co.za

Cape St Blaize lighthouse
Tel: +27 (0)21 449 2400
Email: lighthouse.tourism@transnet.net

How to get here

From Cape Town, travel east on the N2 past Caledon, Swellendam, Riversdale and Albertinia, turning off at Mossel Bay. The distance between Cape Town and Mossel Bay is approx. 400km – 4 hours’ drive.

Best time to visit

The lighthouse is open to visitors on weekdays between 10am and 3pm.

Around the area

From Mossel Bay, you can embark on day trips down the Garden Route and into the Little Karoo via Oudtshoorn.

Tours to do

The area is well served with tour guides, and their details are posted on the listed Mossel Bay Tourism website.

Get around

If possible, drive yourself from Cape Town so you can explore further along the Garden Route, and see the Overberg sights on your way back.

What will it cost

Entry fees are approx. R15 for adults, R7 for children and R10 for pensioners and students.

Length of stay

Plan to spend at least an hour wandering around the lighthouse and adjacent viewpoint.

Where to stay

Mossel Bay has great accommodation options – see the listed Mossel Bay Tourism website for choices.

What to eat

Apart from the nearby Lighthouse Restaurant at Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay has a large selection of eateries. See the listed Mossel Bay Tourism site for details.

What's happening

A Mossel Bay Sports Festival is held annually at the end of September.