Did you know?
‘Rooi spinnekop’ (red spider) is the local West Coast nickname for crayfish.
When you’re walking along the misty beach at Hondeklip Bay, a tiny village on the north-west coast of South Africa, it feels like you have arrived at a distant frontier.
Cities and crowds are far away. There is just the vast Atlantic Ocean before you, and a tiny settlement at your back. Fishing boats and diamond diving vessels bob in the waters near the jetty. For company, you have perhaps a couple of seagulls and a lonely fisherman – that’s it.
Hondeklip (Afrikaans for ‘Dog Stone’) Bay was first a small trading centre until copper was discovered and mining began north of here in the mid-1800s.
For a while, it was a rather uproarious little seaport, as the copper was transported from places like Springbok to be shipped south from here.
There was no pub in Hondeklip Bay, but the hardened copper transporters made their own plans. They would buy a huge cask of Cape Smoke brandy – strong liquor, by anyone’s lights – roll it down to the beach and settle in for a long and loud party.
Things got so bad – or good – out at Hondeklip Bay one Sunday that the local magistrate put out a notice: the lock-up is full. Anyone caught misbehaving will be chained to one of the piers down at the jetty.
The most impressive act of local construction was Die Messelpad (Masonry Road) inland from Hondeklip Bay. Construction began in 1867 but ceased four years later when it was decided to move the copper operations up to the more accessible Port Nolloth.
Hondeklip Bay went into a slump. Just more than 50 years later, it briefly revived itself with a foray into the crayfish industry. When that played out, diamonds were discovered offshore and the adventurers returned.
Today, Hondeklip Bay is still a frontier town, but tourism is the new buzzword, alongside a kelp harvesting industry.
Many folk visiting Hondeklip Bay want to know the connection between a dog, a stone and the village name. The unofficial answer is there was once a big rock here shaped like the head of a dog. Then the piece that resembled one of its ears was stolen and a lightning strike severed its nose. Have another Cape Smoke on me…
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Die Honnehok Chalets
Tel: +27 (0) 27 692 3041
Die Rooi Spinnekop Restaurant
Tel: +27 (0)76 430 8300
How to get here
Head up the N7 from Cape Town to Kamieskroon, where you turn east and drive for approx. 80km to Hondeklip Bay.
Best time to visit
Come in the spring (August to October) or the autumn (April to May), when the weather is most temperate.
Around the area
You might want to drive up and do the Kleinzee Shipwreck Tour – see the listed Northern Cape Tourism website for details.
Tours to do
There are various Namaqualand tours available – see the listed Northern Cape Tourism website.
Your best bet for this trip is a self-drive sedan.
What will it cost
Self-catering costs in Hondeklip Bay are very low: R150 – R250 per person per night.
Length of stay
Set aside two nights for your do-nothing, eat-lots trip to Hondeklip Bay.
Where to stay
You can stay at Die Honnehok self-catering chalets or at the Skulpieskraal Tented Lodge (part of Die Rooi Spinnekop) – also self-catering.
What to eat
You might want to take along some supplies when you stay at the Hondeklip Bay self-catering establishments, but Die Rooi Spinnekop restaurant will spoil you with sumptuous seafood feasts and cold beer.
Absolutely nothing happens here – and everyone loves it.