Mermaid’s purses, nautilus shells, purple urchins, cushion stars, entertaining octopuses – these are just some of the wonders you’ll encounter on Garden Route evening walks. Under a full or new moon, walk along a beach rich with abundant marine life best seen at night.

Did you know?

Nudibranch are shell-less marine molluscs, similar to sea slugs.

Evening walks along the Garden Route are a wonderful way to experience the seashore at night. Judy Dixon – marine biologist, botanist, biochemist and accredited field guide – will introduce you to the wonders of the intertidal zone along one of South Africa ’s most popular destinations, the Garden Route.

Before you hit the shore on one of the Garden Route evening walks, Judy will talk you through some of the familiar things you yourself might have seen or found on a beach – shells, seaweed, crabs, starfish – and explain how each facet of seashore life adapts to its own environment.

Then it's off to Swartvlei beach, the perfect coastal walking destination thanks to its plethora of rock pools, all of which are host to a treasure trove of marine life.

You can take the Moonlight Meander, which takes place only at full moon, or the Starlight Stroll, at new moon, throughout the year. But in winter, expect a special delight – bioluminescence. This production of light by living organisms causes the sea to sparkle and glow, a sight to behold. You won’t know whether to focus your attention on the sea, the moon or the stars because they are all so brilliant and lovely.

Even though it's night, prepared to be dazzled. As Judy says: 'the pools are a kaleidoscope of colour – vivid red anemones, purple urchins, orange nudibranch and a Persian carpet of cushion stars.'

Octopuses streak through the water after hapless prey, rocks suddenly spring to life and the sand erupts with all kinds of small critters, from ghost crabs and plough snails to pill bugs. All you need is a good torch, a capacity to listen and a sense of wonder.

Join a group, take your family (children love these walks), go solo – just don't miss this experience.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Judy Dixon
Phone: +27 (0) 44 883 1015
Email: jzd@telkomsa.net

Garden Route Trail
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 213 5931
Email: walk@gardenroutetrail.co.za
Web: www.gardenroutetrail.co.za

How to get here

Take the N2 west from Cape Town, or east from Port Elizabeth, to Wilderness. Garden Route Trails or Judy Dixon will provide detailed directions when you book an evening walk.

Best time to visit

There are 2 spring tides a month – the walks are best at this time. Contact the Garden Route Trail to find out when spring tides occur.

Around the area

The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most popular destinations with the Tsitsikamma Forest, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Sedgefield, Wilderness and George as highlights.

What will it cost

Approx. R60 per person.

Length of stay

The walks take 3-4 hours.

What to pack

Your choice of sundowners and snacks, a good torch, comfortable walking shoes and, in winter, warm clothing.

Where to stay

See the Garden Route Tourism website for a variety of accommodation options to suit all tastes and budgets.

What to eat

Pizza (at your own cost) is delivered to the beach.

What's happening

The annual Knysna Oyster Festival takes place in July.