With an ocean as magnificently blue as the one surrounding Mauritius (just a bit nippier), miles of walking trails amongst fynbos and little beach cottages, and the freshest, most deliciously deep-fried calamari in the world, Struisbaai – a mere 4 kilometres from the southern-most tip of Africa – is on our list of the Western Cape’s must-see spots.
Expecting overpriced restaurants, littered beaches and hoards of tourists clamouring for photos where the Indian meets the Atlantic, we were astounded by the quiet simplicity and beauty of this little Afrikaans town. The general architecture and design is pretty kitsch (and completely incomparable to the West Coast’s beautiful Paternoster) but the beaches, the mountains and the sunsets are just a few reasons to put this place on the bucket list.
Foreign tourists were few and far between. Rather, we bumped into surf-obsessed, backpacking hippies looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town for the weekend. They were the regulars in Struisbaai, always coming back to stay in the Cape Agulhas Backpackers – the best hostel we’ve visited in South Africa (everyone who’s been will agree). Fish braais with brandy and Cokes in the evenings, coffee and rusks after a chilly run along the beach in the mornings… you couldn’t ask for a more rejuvenating local experience.
If trotting down to the pristine Struisbaai beach to read, relax and play bat-and-ball all day is getting boring (or even if it isn’t), you simply must take a day trip to Arniston. It’s about 40km away and well worth a visit. Rich in history, Arniston features an original fishing village dating back two hundred years, which is truly out of this world.
You can stay overnight in one of the little thatched houses, or pop into one of the restaurants for a koffie en kondensmelk (coffee and condensed milk) served in a good ol’ fashioned mug by a real fisherman’s wife. Also, have some calamari while you’re at it – deep fried of course – it will be a highlight. Make sure you check the tide chart so you can plan a small mission to the cave, which is only accessible during low tide.
Although we only scraped the surface of Struisbaai and Arniston (and fell completely, madly in love), rumour has it that there are even more magical spots to be discovered in the area. We’ll be back.