Plettenberg Bay, or ‘Plett’ as it is known, at the centre of the Garden Route, is South Africa’s unofficial vacation capital, and on the “must do” list of virtually everyone travelling to this part of the world.
The town itself is a suburban sprawl, but the beaches are reckoned to be among the finest in the world: 10 crescent-shaped kilometres of sand pounded by the Indian Ocean. Approaching from the west, the first thing you see is the Robberg Peninsula jutting out into the ocean for three kilometres, protecting the whole bay from westerly winds and giant waves. On the east side of the peninsula is Robberg Beach, then Central Beach, followed by Lookout Beach, which is a favourite with surfers.
Central Beach is for more active pursuits like hobie cats and windsurfing. Lookout Rocks is a good spot for angling, as is Keurboomstrand, a little further up the coast, where you can line fish off the rocks.
Dolphins and whales (in season) can be seen from the shore, but for a closer look, book a boat trip into the bay. Whales often arrive as early as June and are still there in November.
Holidaymakers usually prefer to stay out of town in more rural surroundings. To the east, as you come into Tsitsikamma Forest, there are some great places to stay ranging from the five-star Kurland estate, through Hog Hollow Country Lodge, possibly the finest establishment on the Garden Route, to Bitou River Lodge, a super little bed and breakfast. To the west, towards Knysna, there are the two five-star Relais & Chateaux properties, Tsala Treetops and Hunters. In town, the five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel, The Plettenberg, is the grande dame of the Garden Route; and we can warmly recommend some wonderful, good-value guesthouses, such as Periwinkle and Bosavern.
It is almost impossible to list the activities in Plett - there is so much to do. There is the whole range of marine pursuits, including whale-watching, scuba-diving, deep-sea fishing, rock-fishing, surfing, wind-surfing, soft and hard adventure activities, everything from horse-riding to tubing, sports such as golf and fishing, mountain-biking, beautiful drives, boat trips, galleries … What you cannot do is a more interesting question.