Doring Bay used to be a forgotten little West Coast village with a lonely lighthouse and little else. Although the lighthouse is still the iconic local feature, these days visitors come here to see the whales and to enjoy the wine of the vineyards that stand less than 1km from the ocean.

Did you know?

Doring Bay’s previous lighthouse, made with latticework, was destroyed in a storm in 1991.

That 1st sighting of Doring Bay at sunset is guaranteed to take your breath away. It has all the romantic elements of a seafaring adventure tale: last light dancing off the old crayfish factory, mist rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean and a lighthouse flickering its beam from the land to the ocean.

And there’s always the chance of spotting a passing whale or 2 out at sea.

The Doring Bay lighthouse, in the little Namaqualand fishing harbour of the same name, is the most eye-catching icon in the area. In times gone by, Doring Bay (Thorn Bay) did duty as a minor trade port. Legend has it that supplies would be dropped off here and then hauled to the inland villages by camel.

Few serious fishermen paid much attention to the red-gold crustaceans that seemed to swarm about these waters. The fantastic abundance of crayfish (lobster) meant little to local fishermen – except, occasionally, as bait.

‘We used to take the crayfish out from under the rock, twist their tails off and use that to catch the sea bream,’ says a local publican, Reynold van Wyk.

That state of affairs has changed radically. This part of the world is now famous for its crayfish, and there are restaurants all along the West Coast dedicated to providing ‘the perfect tail’ to locals and travellers.

Stocks of crayfish vary, however.

Back in the mid-1930s, the North Bay Fishing Company set up shop in Doring Bay, at the base of the lighthouse. To claim the area, they hired a man to moor his little skiff in the middle of the bay and stay on it for 6 months to establish some form of permanent residence.

They then set up a crayfish-processing factory, and Doring Bay experienced a crayfish boom until local resources were depleted and the village went into a slump.

But now, say locals, the ‘kreef’ (crayfish in Afrikaans) are coming back – albeit erratically – and the once-depressed fishing community of Doring Bay goes out to sea again.

These days, the old factory at the jetty under the Doring Bay lighthouse is home to the Fryer’s Cove wine cellars. But there's a community kitchen nearby where you can still buy your crayfish or, if you prefer, a piping hot plate of good old fish 'n chips ...

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