Paternoster, Western Cape
Did you know?
When Portuguese steamship, Lisboa, ran aground near Paternoster in 1910 it was the first time radio telegraphy was used to call for help off the South African coast.
As you approach Paternoster on the Cape West Coast, the sight of crashing Atlantic Ocean waves greets you first. Then you meet the informal crayfish sellers: the area is famous for West Coast rock lobster. Next, you see the whitewashed cottages with blue shutters and thatched roofs, all built or maintained in the tradition of a Western Cape fishing village.
Don’t let the uniform architecture dissuade you from visiting. Building restrictions were put in place to preserve the community’s way of life, and the minimalism enhances the beauty of this wild, spectacular part of South Africa.
The lack of ostentation is a welcome relief from other tourist spots along this route, which are often overrun by chain stores, mansions and nightclubs. Instead, fish markets and farm stalls serve up treats, and there’s not a shopping centre in sight.
Drive slowly along the few streets of Paternoster; once you’re here, you can stroll wherever you want to go.
The landscape is harsh but beautiful. Vegetation grows low on the ground, while sand dunes contrast with the occasional green field where sheep and other livestock graze. Close by you'll find Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and the popular camping spot called 'Tietiesbaai'.
Take advantage of the isolation by going for walks along the beach. Keep to yourself in a nook at any of the eateries, or get rowdy at establishments like the Panty Bar at the Paternoster Hotel. Or go for a swim in the Atlantic, if only for the bragging rights – it’s cold but invigorating. You could spend a day, a weekend, a month contemplating the meaning of life, reading a book or even writing one.
Seals, dolphins and whales are regularly spotted here. Bird watchers will love the coastal birds that occur and, around springtime, the West Coast’s famous wildflowers bloom.
Without the distractions of urban over-development, Paternoster’s possibilities are as endless as the beach itself.
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
From Cape Town, follow the R27, passing Yzerfontein and Langebaan. Turn off towards Vredenburg and keep going straight; Paternoster is 15km from Vredenburg and about 150km from Cape Town.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is wonderful. Winters are cold and stormy but exquisite, especially if you can gather around a fireplace. Springtime from August onwards is the perfect time for the spectacular West Coast wild flowers as well as whale watching.
Around the area
The impressive Columbine Nature Reserve and West Coast Nature Reserve are on your doorstep, as is the West Coast Fossil Park. Langebaan, a more mainstream tourist attraction, is also nearby.
Tours to do
Great outdoor activities include hiking, deep sea ski boat fishing, sea kayaking and diving. A handful of companies operate in the area so enquire at the local tourist information office – you may have to book in advance.
Where to stay
There are many types of accommodation on offer in Paternoster to suit every budget: self-catering cottages, luxury guest houses, a backpackers, a hotel and a camp-site will give you what you need.
What to eat
A restaurant making a name for itself is Oep ve Koep where the inventive chef Kobus van der Merwe combines edible plants indigenous to the region with the seafood the area is famous for. Another popular spot Blikkie Pizzeria.
Jazz on the Rocks takes place at Tietiesbaai in March each year.