McDougall’s Bay, Port Nolloth
Did you know?
The last large-scale ship which visited Port Nolloth fortnightly, the Oranjemund, was withdrawn from service in 2006.
In the northern reaches of South Africa, in the deceptively sparse Richtersveld, there’s a gem of a Blue Flag beach 4km from a fascinating port with a rich history. McDougall’s Bay lies alongside Port Nolloth, established as a small harbour and railway junction back in 1854.
The municipality of Port Nolloth take pride in the Blue Flag status of McDougall’s Bay, ensuring lifeguards are on duty, the pH balance of the water is maintained, facilities are clean and drinkable water is available. The beach sports a number of guesthouses and cottages for hire as well as some camping sites.
Positioned on the Atlantic, the waters off this Northern Cape beach tend to be a little chilly, and the warmer temperatures of the month of December are perhaps the best time to dip your toes into the surf. There are, however, lots of other activities to participate in or observe, such as the crayfish fishermen who dive for their catch or span nets out at sea. Windsurfing, jetskiing, kayaking and surfing are some of the activities seen on the waves.
Port Nolloth, often swathed in mists, appears somewhat sleepy, yet is an intriguing town. Its location was first marked by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1847, before a wild storm blew his ship off course for 13 days. The Namaqua people dubbed the bay Aukwatowa meaning ‘Where the water took away the old man’.
When copper was discovered in the interior in the 1850s, this sheltered spot was developed as a port from which the ore could be shipped. It was named by the Cape Colony administration after its surveyor, Captain M. S. Nolloth.
In the 1870s the horse-drawn wagons that conveyed the copper were replaced by a narrow gauge railway line. But as ships grew in size, the port’s shallow entrance became problematic and shipments declined. A new lease of life came with the discovery of alluvial diamonds in 1926 and, although large-scale mining has long since tailed off, people are still engaged in the search for the precious stones.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Port Nolloth Municipality
Tel: +27 (0)27 851 1111