Robberg Marine Protected Area
Did you know?
Giant buffaloes, giant hartebeest and giant Cape horses used to roam Robberg until 10 000 years ago.
The Robberg Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a long, broad peninsula jutting out from one of South Africa’s premier holiday destinations – Plettenberg Bay. And in complete contrast to the large holiday homes and guest houses nearby, this is a quiet place of coastal fynbos, beaches, rocky cliffs and seals.
It’s the seals after whom Robberg was first named decades ago ('rob' is Afrikaans for seal). But the fact that seals were once ruthlessly hunted here meant that seals had disappeared entirely from this spot.
In 1996, the first graceful seal dragged itself ashore and now they are back in their hundreds, doe eyed, velvet skinned and adorably clumsy.
You’d never imagine the extraordinary diversity that thrives under the waves around Plettenberg Bay. But here, just sitting on the edge of rocks along Robberg’s 4km length, you might see Bryde’s whale, southern right whale, common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, and yes, the scourge of all seals, the great white shark. Orcas have sometimes been seen passing through the Bay.
The Robberg MPA also conserves less spectacular but equally important coastal habitats – rocky platforms, sandy beaches and subtidal rocky platforms.
There are a number of hikes you could do around Robberg. The longest is fairly strenuous and should really only be tackled at low tide by people of reasonable fitness. But walking is a very rewarding way of interacting with the edges of the marine park – exploring rock pools and coastal habitats as you go.
If you prefer to kayak around Robberg, you’ll see the full impact of the biodiversity conserved here – and have the chance of seeing the ethereal shapes of seals ‘flying’ under water.
Kayakers rave about the sightings – you can often see weirdly distinct shapes of hammerhead sharks swimming close to the rocky shore.
Commercial fishing is completely disallowed here, but you can get a permit to drop a line in the water from CapeNature, which administers Robberg and the adjoining Marine Protected Area.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Robberg Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)44 533 2125/85
Best time to visit
Plettenberg Bay is pleasant any time of year, but gets very crowded over the December holidays.
Walking is the best way to truly appreciate this area's beauty. There are easy and difficult walks – the latter not suitable for children and should not be done at high tide. Ask at the office about routes.
What will it cost
Approx R25 per person and about half that for schoolchildren.
Length of stay
If you're mad about little hidden coves and rock pools and unexpected views, set aside a good few hours – maybe even a day.
What to pack
If you enjoy fishing, bring a rod and your licence, which can be bought from any post office.
You can bring your swimming costume for tanning, but not swimming. The currents are very strong.
Where to stay
There is a very simply equipped little fisherman's cottage you could book (also suitable for hikers overnight). Otherwise there is plenty of accommodation on offer in Plettenberg Bay.