Did you know?
Every now and then orcas have been known to cruise around in Plettenberg Bay.
Plettenberg Bay in season is awash with international polo stars, local and international glitterati, captains of industry at leisure, and fancy guest houses and hotels.
But it has a parallel natural life that is even more attractive.
If you go out to sea with Ocean Blue Adventures, you’ll encounter Bryde’s whales, humpback whales, southern right whales and several species of dolphins – including rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.
The Robberg Marine Protected Area, a long, natural peninsula, is also home to thousands of Cape fur seals.
'Plett', as it’s fondly known locally, is roughly in the middle of the southern Cape coastline, and its high marine biodiversity is thanks to a lack of industrial pollution, a watchful ecotourism industry and a few natural assets, including a long coastal shelf and the beautiful Robberg peninsula, which is also a declared nature reserve.
Ocean Blue Adventures is one of the longest-running ecotourism operations in South Africa, and its responsible tourism credentials are certified by Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa.
It offers boat trips to look at dolphins and whales (and has a licence to approach whales up to 50m away). Sometimes the boat may find itself amid thousands (literally) of common dolphins on a hunt – an unforgettable experience.
Bryde’s whales, although not as charismatic as the southern right whales, can be seen most of the year. In winter (May to August), of course, the southern right and humpback whales grab the limelight.
If you’d like a closer encounter, you could try sea-kayaking amid frolicsome seals and perhaps a few curious bottlenose dolphins.
But Ocean Blue Adventures is not only focused on things marine. In partnership with the Qolweni Community Development Trust, it offers cultural tours of the Qolweni township.
At this township, in the lee of the spectacular Tsitsikamma Mountains, you’ll encounter singing pre-schoolers, get an insight into the life of a traditional healer, and visit the communal vegetable gardens.
You’ll meet some of the enterprising women of the township, and can even stay at a local guest house, or enjoy a glass of beer in the shebeen.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Ocean Blue Adventures
Tel: +27 (0)44 533 5083
Cell: +27 (0)83 701 3583
How to get here
Plettenberg Bay is along the Garden Route, about five hours’ drive along the N2 east from Cape Town or about three hours’ drive westwards from Port Elizabeth.
Ocean Blue Adventures’ boats depart from Central Beach.
Best time to visit
If you’re interested in whales, come between July and November. This is when the southern rights and humpbacks visit the coastline. It’s also a good time to see dolphins.
What will it cost
Whale-watching tours cost approx. R650 per person (R350 per child under 12). Dolphin encounters cost approx. R400 per adult (and R200 per child). A sea-kayaking adventure costs approx. R250 per person. A township tour costs approx. R150 per person.
Length of stay
Most of the excursions vary between one and two hours.
Where to stay
Plettenberg Bay has many accommodation options from upmarket hotels to charming guest houses, but you may want to have a grassroots experience and stay in the Qolweni township.
You’ll find various handmade items at Qolweni, while Ocean Blue has a fascinating little shop (which is also the rendezvous point) in Plettenberg Bay.