Arniston, Western Cape
Did you know?
Because of the shallow seas, Arniston has the safest bathing beaches along this stretch of coast.
For over 200 years the tiny town of Arniston on the Western Cape's Indian Ocean seaboard was a fully functioning fishing village. Today, depleted fish stocks have changed its emphasis toward tourism. Arniston is now a national monument but still home to a small yet lively community.
The village is named after one of many shipwrecks off the coast: the British ship Arniston, which ran into rocks offshore in 1815.
Be sure to stroll among the whitewashed thatch cottages that line the shore, have a chat to the cheerful locals and dine out on freshly caught seafood.
The local people, however, still call Arniston by its original Afrikaans name Waenhuiskrans and you can still find this name on some maps. Waenhuiskrans means 'wagon-house cliff', so-called after a massive cave some 1 500m south of the town. Apparently it was considered big enough to house a wagon and span of oxen, the most popular form of transport during the 1800s.
The walk past fynbos-covered dunes to the cave at low tide is stunning, but you'll probably get quite wet and be sure to wear rugged sandals because of the jagged rocks. Choose a warm sunny day when one of the frequent southeasters isn't blowing, otherwise you'll end up cold and even wetter.
On good days you can swim in the Mediterranean-blue sea, laze on the white beaches and immerse yourself in a quintessential Cape beach experience. But be warned, if the weather isn't good, there's not much else to do except in whale watching season (June to November) when you'll get a grandstand view of the Southern Right whales that come here to calve.
In the December holiday season Arniston is packed, so book your accommodation well in advance.