Blue Flag beaches

The Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA) has announced that 66 Blue Flags will be flown at 46 beaches, eight marinas and by 12 sustainable tourism boats around South Africa over the forthcoming 2018/19 Blue Flag season.

The Blue Flag program is focused on the conservation of marine and coastal habitats, and is designed to raise environmental education and awareness, and increase environmental practices.

To achieve Blue Flag status, as many as 33 different criteria spanning four aspects of coastal management must be met and maintained:

  • water quality,
  • environmental education and information,
  • environmental management, and
  • safety and services.

Each Blue Flag site is compelled to conduct several environmental education activities during the year, and practice effective and efficient conservation management.

This year 24 beaches across three provinces have been awarded ‘pilot status’ and throughout the 2018/19 Blue Flag season WESSA said it will work with beach managers stewards from these pilot beaches towards the longer-term goal of achieving full Blue Flag status.

You can find the full list of Blue Flag beaches below:

The Magic of the Garden Route

From Mossel Bay to the Storms River is a necklace of bays, beaches, cliffs and rocky capes strung together along a line of pounding white surf. The mountain ranges crowd close to the shoreline and, with a rainfall of around 2 500 millimetres on the peaks, bring a plentiful water supply to the narrow coastal terrace. Here every square metre of soil seems to nourish jumble of trees and flowering plants that a cultivated garden would pale into insignificance in comparison.

The 227 kilometres of this coastline is the Garden Route, a region of eternal freshness and greenery.

The climate is mild and equable. Rainfall is scattered throughout the year, most of it falling at night. A blight of most of the African continent is thus avoided – rainfall concentrated into a short season of floods followed by months so dry that rivers become sand and the vegetation so dead that it is simply a fire waiting to be started.

From the time of its first discovery by man this coastal terrace has delighted visitors. The French explorer, François Le Vaillant, passed this way in the 1780s, and the description he has left might well apply today: “The land bears the name Outeniqua, which in the Hottentot tongue means ‘a man laden with honey’. The flowers grow there in millions, the mixture of pleasant scents which arises from them, their colour, their variety, the pure an fresh air which on breathers there, all make one stop and think nature has made an enchanted abode of this beautiful place.”

Seldom cooler than 20°C, the coastal waters teem with game fish. Divers find a magic world of brilliantly coloured sea plants, molluscs and vast shoals of little fish. Suddenly, a rocky shoreline will give way to a secluded, sandy beach. Victoria Bay is renowned as one of the world’s best surfing beaches. The rivers, deeply stained with the amber colour of the soil have lovely stretches navigable by small boats; the wild flowers and the high forests offer long, cool drives down tunnels of shade beneath the trees; there is a mining ghost town to explore, and gold still to be panned in several steams.

Along the Garden Route is little to harm man other than his own folly. For the continent of Africa this is indeed a rare pleasure. There are no malarial mosquitoes, no bilharzia worms in the rivers, no crocodiles or other predatory animals and save leopards which keep to themselves in the mountains. A few elephants still survive in the depths of the Knysna Forest, but are seldom seen.

At some time or another, nearly every South African with the means to go on holiday spends some time on this coast. For visitors to the country it is one of the highlights of a complete tour. The region is excellently served by roads and has a delightful branch railway from George to Knysna still (and it is hoped for years to come) worked by steam locomotives. The region has numerous places of accommodation, caravan parks and camping grounds.

In the heart of the Garden Route is a quaint little town called Brenton-on-Sea. This small town lies on the edge of the shoreline a few kilometres from Knysna. For more information to buy vacant land or a house, please call Sophie Joubert on 082 572 2729.

Things to do and see

Angling
Musselcracker are prolific in Mossel Bay. Along the entire coast elf, kob and leervis run in autumn and winter and off the cliffs are many big rock feeders. Knysna lagoon offers sport for the fisherman with light tackle – galjoen, hottentot, roman, grunter and kob.
Plettenberg Bay is a favourite of fishermen. Gillies – or guides – can be hired. Large rock feeders are common. In autumn there are shoals of elf and notably large yellowtail. Big catchers are often taken.

Canoeing
The rivers of the Garden Route are ideal for canoes. The upper reaches simply lose themselves in forest. The Kaaimans waterfall can only be reached by canoe. The chain of lakes between Wilderness and Knysna is linked by serpentine waterways.

Camping and caravanning
There are caravan and camping grounds within easy access of all towns listed in this section.

Diving
Marine plants are rich along the coast, matching the beauty of the flora on shore. Small fish are numerous and many sea-horses live in Knysna lagoon.

Rail journeys
A pleasant way to see the wonders of the Garden Route is from the windows of a train. The line from George to Knysna passes through marvellous scenery. The trip from George over the Outeniqua Mountains to Camfer and Oudtshoorn includes one of the grandest railway passes in Africa, with tunnels, cuttings and tremendous views.

Surfing
The waves at Victoria Bay are majestic, especially in winter. There is also surfing in Mossel Bay and Buffalo Bay.

Swimming
The beaches at Plettenberg Bay are particularly safe. Mossel Bay also has fine swimming beaches with little trouble from sharks. The rivers of the Garden Route, free of the parasites of tropical rivers, provide excellent fresh-water swimming.

Walking
The whole Garden Route is memorable walking country. The walker sees the best of it. One of the most rewarding of all South African wilderness trails is the Outeniqua Trail. It takes 7 to 14 days to complete. The Otter Trail in the Tsitsikama national park is a 3-day hike.
Exploring any part of the high forests by foot takes the walker along scenic paths, silent, solitary, cool and lovely.

Beer tasting

An absolute must visit is Mitchell’s Brewery, here you can discover all there is to know about brewing fine natural ales. The tour guide will enlighten and excite you with terms such as Mash Tun, Whirlpool and Grist Hopper. After your tour you will be taken to the sales area for a tasting and a chance to purchase some of the ale to take home.

Since 1983, Mitchell’s Brewery have been brewing small quantities of craft beer in Knysna, using only natural ingredients; water, barley and locally sourced hops which makes them the original South African craft beer. Perfected over time, their range of beers are full bodied, refreshing and tasting better than ever.

Mitchell’s Brewery is also known for its tastings, tours and their restaurant. Make a booking at 044 382 4685 and enjoy pure natural beer!

Properties for sale

Brenton-on-Sea is a small coastal town about 15km South of Knysna. The town offers upmarket houses and beautiful landscaped vacant land for sale.

To purchase your next home, contact Sophie Joubert at 082 572 2729 right now!

Robinson Pass

The Montagu Pass, built in 1848 made crossing the Outeniqua Mountains a relatively easy task.

However, the Montagu Pass was on the other side of George and the people of Mossel Bay became fidgety in their demands for a pass over the mountains of their own.

After some failed attempts to build a pass along the lines of the Ruytersbosch Pad, the people of Mossel Bay threw in the towel.

Along came Thomas Bain, sent by the colonial government after he had completed the Prince Alfred’s Pass near Knysna. He extended the route taken by the locals and joined up with the Attaquas Kloof road.

Opened in 1869, it was reconstructed and surfaced between 1958 and 1963. The wide road and gentle curves take some beauty away from the pass, which means that it is not as scenic as some of the others in the extended area, but it is nevertheless still a wonderful pass well worth the time to drive. It has some enchanting scenery, with the pine forests lining the hills and mountainsides.

Robinson Pass forms a part of a number of routes one may undertake to experience the true beauty of the Cape Mountain Passes.

From Mossel Bay, travel over the Robinson Pass into Oudsthoorn, then through Schoemanspoort and over the magnificent Swartberg Pass. You can have lunch at the quaint Prince Albert village, and return over the Kredouw Pass. Take your time through what has to be one of the Cape’s most beautiful natural sights, Meiringspoort and continue over the Outeniqua Pass.

This wonderfully modern pass offers the traveller ample opportunity to stop and get lost in the awesome splendour of the Outeniqua Mountains.

Head over the Potjiesberg Pass. The road towards the rustic town old town, Uniondale, is straight and bordered by a stretch of mountains delivering panorama that is hard to surpass. Stop for a bite in Uniondale and then spend some quality time in the Uniondale Poort, thereafter swerve off towards the 7 Passes Road between George and Knysna.

The choices are wide and varied, but beautiful and awe inspiring whichever the route one chooses.

Timber industry

By 1880 over 1000 people had settled in Knysna. In 1882, the settlements of Newhaven, Melville and the wedge of land between the two villages were amalgamated to form the municipality of ‘The Knysna’, named after the Knysna River.

Knysna’s timber industry peaked when George Parkes arrived from Britain and saw the opportunity to use the hardwoods of the Knysna Forest for export to elsewhere in the country, and even overseas. He established the Knysna Forest Company, later renamed Geo. Parkes and Sons Ltd, which is still trading to this day.

Millwood House Museum

In 1878, an important discovery was made in the area. A gold nugget was found in the Karatara River, near Ruigtevlei. Soon fortune hunters from all over the world arrived at the Millwood Forest in search of gold, and Millwood grew into a bustling town. Millwood was declared a gold field, the very first in South Africa. However, soon not enough gold was being recovered to sustain a growing town, and the mining industry in the area collapsed. Some miners relocated to Knysna, bringing their little homes with them. One of the houses, known as ‘Millwood House’, now functions as a museum.

Pledge nature reserve

Before Knysna was officially named a town, it was made up of small settlements, one of which was Newhaven, just east of today’s Long Street – the long straight road that intersects the town and runs down to Thesen`s Island. To the west was Eastford, a large farm that formed part of the extensive estates of George Rex. The”Founder of Knysna” In 1820 Rex gave 40 morgen of Eastford to the Admiralty. Some of this land was used by the Admiralty to set up a small boat building yard on the edge of the lagoon. The rest of the 40 morgen was used as commonage. In 1825, permission was given for the village of Melville to be built on the common. The village grew slowly at first, and by mid-century only a handful of simple houses had been erected. It became evident, however, that as the settlement of the Cape Colony increased, and the demand for the timber resources of the Knysna area grew rapidly.

As the area flourished, the settlements of Newhaven and Melville experienced their first “housing boom”. Woodcutters, furniture makers, coastal traders and related service providers settled in the area. It was to feed this boom and the subsequent demand for the kiln-dried bricks, those brickfields sprang up around the edge of the settlements, where there was abundant raw material and firewood available. One of these brickfields, on the northern edge of the town limits, as they were then, was an area called Bok-se-kloof. It is here, today, more than 100 years later, that the Pledge Nature Reserve lies, being restored, where possible, to its original natural beauty.

Just when Bok-se-Kloof brickfield closed down, is not known. Certainly, by the 1920’s, the area was known as “the old brickfield”. Daisy Eberhard, whose family was among the pioneers of the area, took over the “Brownie” movement in 1927 and, wanting a suitable meeting place for her group, she approached the Knysna Town Council to allow her to use a portion of Bok-se-Kloof.

In 1929, in support of her application, 500 yards of fencing was built on the hillside and the valley floor for her use. The area was adjacent to the old brickfield with a clear stream flowing through it. It was here that, under the guidance of Daisy Eberhard, generations of Knysna’s youth first discovered the diversity of the Cape`s botanical heritage.

Daisy Eberhard’s stream did not remain clear for very long. Ravaged by urban encroachment, the stream silted up and stopped flowing regularly. However, with its banks bare and sterile, it would flood after heavy rain. This caused silt and urban rubbish to be dumped into the fragile Knysna lagoon. The land itself, being part of a valley and largely unsuitable for housing, escaped major development. But it was left as waste ground — an informal dump, where invader vegetation soon took root and was spreading at an incredibly high rate. In 1988, Kito Erasmus, a local forest officer and a town councillor, encouraged the idea of getting the public involved in the eradication of plant invaders as an Arbour Day project.

His proposal received the full co-operation of the local branch of the Wildlife Society, under the Chairmanship of Margo Mackay, who inspired public interest and organised hacking parties. Their attention was focussed on the Bok-se-Kloof valley which by then was infested with 14 different exotic invader species.

The following year, the Department of Forestry received notice of an offer of sponsorship for a non-commercial forest conservation project in the Southern Cape. The Wildlife Society agreed to adopt Bok-se-Kloof as an environmental rehabilitation project for the Branch and a project presentation was drawn up which resulted in a generous grant from S C Johnson & Son whose range of household products include Pledge furniture care range.

The Community Project that became Pledge Nature Reserve received widespread publicity through popular environmentalist magazines and radio and TV programmes. This culminated in the project receiving M-Net’s Nature Foundation Award in 1991.

The Reserve has also received praise from botanists and environmentalists alike. An officer of the South African Botanical Society pointed out that Pledge’s situation so near to the Town’s centre made the Reserve both exceptional and of high value to Knysna that it should never be underestimated.

Bloukrans River in the Garden Route

The Bloukrans River is a short river located in the Tsitsikamma region of the Garden Route, South Africa. It is located on the border between the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. The river mouth is located east of Nature’s Valley, the Bloukrans Bridge spans the river near the mouth and the Bloukrans Pass is close by. The river originates near Peak Formosa in the Plettenberg Bay region.

The Bloukrans Bridge spanning the river is home to the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy operated by Face Adrenalin, at 233 metres.

Staying in Brenton-on-Sea in the Western Cape of South Africa does not only offer you residence on the shoreline, it also provides you with an array of things to do throughout the whole Garden Route.

Knysna, a short distance drive from Brenton-on-Sea is a well known town in the Garden Route that offers the annual Oyster Festival, and the Loerie Fest, just to name two of the widely known tourism attractions.

For those adrenalin junkies, there is some more adventurous things close by such as bungee jumping.

Various sport activities are available throughout the Garden Route.

Buffalo Bay Beach

Buffalo Bay beach is also known as Buffelsbaai and you will find this small coastal town in the Goukamma Nature Reserve just a few kilometres from Knysna. The beach is part of a 14 kilometre stretch of sand that is pure paradise to all visitors. The area is absolutely unique – offering splendid white sandy beaches and dunes, continuous blue waves as well as coastal fynbos, which in itself are stunning, bordered by a coastal forest.

This is a favourite beach for holiday makers, both local and foreign as the area offers a great selection of activities which include fishing, boating, surfing or just relaxing in the shallow waters and basking on the beach. If you are visiting from July to October you might be lucky enough to see a dolphin or two skipping in the waves. When your stomach starts to grumble and you forgot to bring a picnic basket along, head up the beach towards Brenton-on-Sea and Knysna.

A great restaurant to visit is Nautical South – they offer superb dishes and are Sophie Joubert from Sophie’s Properties’ personal favourite!

Who is Sophie Joubert? Sophie is the finest estate agent in Brenton-on-Sea – she always go that extra mile to make your purchase as smooth as possible – she literally takes all the pain and stress out of buying and handles it with great professionalism.

Contact Sophie today on 082 572 2729 to buy your home in the one of the most spectacular parts of the Garden Route on the southern coast of South Africa.