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TThe Cape West Coast is famous as much for its rugged terrain as it is for its rustic seaside villages. Paternoster is a peaceful town lined with fishermen’s cottages, where great seafood and the local lifestyle become all-consuming pastimes. The laidback attitude is complemented by the stark but magical landscape.
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 lobsters. 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.
DDon’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.
TThe 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 the 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 are found around the area 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.