Betty's Bay

Accommodation in Weekend Getaways - Cape


Rebecca Solomon

Just off the Cape’s beaten track is a largely untouched outpost – Betty’s Bay. Home to a handful of lucky locals and visited by a few travellers in the know, this seaside rustic hamlet is a tranquil weekend getaway or laid-back beach holiday, depending on the time of year. A tourist hotspot it is not. Rather, it’s a prized undeveloped gem which only has the Indian Ocean in common with neighbouring holiday-mecca Hermanus. With only a few eateries, café selling shark biltong (really) and an estate agent, Betty’s Bay is where you go when you want to retreat into nature.

One such horticultural hotspot is the National Botanical garden. Created by Jo’burg architect Harold Porter, who relocated to the Cape in 1939, the garden was originally called Shangri-la (meaning paradise) and comprised a piece of land between Rooiels and Palmiet River. But after Porter’s death in 1958, it was donated to the National Botanic Gardens of SA and named in his honour.

Over and above the fynbos, the area offers a bounty of hikes and nature walks for outdoor enthusiasts of all fitness levels. From easy garden strolls to the more challenging Fynbos Trail, a 1,85 km route linking Disa Kloof with Leopard’s Kloof, Betty’s Bay is ideal for those wanting to get their heart pumping the good-old fashioned way.

But should hiking not be your thing, visit the thriving penguin population at Stony Point. Fairly new to the area, the penguins left previous colonies – largely due to pesky seals moving into their hoods to steal their fish - and took-up residence in the old whaling station waters roughly 15 years ago. Now a protected sanctuary, Percy and friends squawk much likes donkeys do (trust me, a very odd noise to come out of the beak of a small black and white bird), splashing in the water or waddling about, showing off their tuxedos to potential girl- or boyfriends.

Sweetening the deal for animal-lovers, should you visit during whaling season, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of these magnificent creatures breaching in the nearby shores. To find the birds, simply follow the life-sized penguin sign-boards that route from the main road to Stony Point.

Then there’s of course the beach. With warm water and fine white sand, it’s a beauty, despite the rocky coastline that no doubt caused many a ship’s demise. For the sandboarders and quad-bikers among you, both are available for hire. Fisherman and crayfish lovers are also in for a treat, with the area a nucleus of marine life.

And, of course no dorp is complete without its locals. Enhancing Betty’s character, I met a handful of her fanatics, who raved about the area’s peaceful and laid-back appeal. First, there was Violet, the vivacious and hospitable Whaling Station restaurant host. A previous owner of the welcoming eatery, Violet today helps run the kitchen and makes guests feel at home, sharing the menu of the day at every table. We settled on Violet’s recommendation of mussels and beef Carpaccio for starters and rack of lamb and fillet (although to be fair, the name was much more glamorous but for the sake of this story has escaped me) for mains, complemented by an incredible Merlot blended with Petit Verdot from Botriver wine farm, Feiteiras. We somehow found space for dessert after our delicious meal, rounding off our evening with sinful bites of house speciality, waffles and ice-cream.

And then there was Chimmy, owner and host extraordinaire of The Retreat, a haven of tranquillity, comfort and style (which incidentally she quotes on her website and couldn’t be more apt). A luxury guest house comprising two designer rooms, Sacred Ibis and Waterberry, Chimmy put us up in the former, a luxury suite with sandstone finished bathroom, heavenly queen-sized bed, adjacent to a charming courtyard with plunge pool and private braai facilities. A Cape Town ex-pat, Chimmy moved to Betty’s Bay a good few years ago and turned her property into a guest house, opening her doors for others to savour the soul of her new hometown. A favourite among international visitors, The Retreat is close to the beach for early or late afternoon sand strolls. And, with an outdoor hot tub to sink into under the stars and delicious full English breakfast (or fruit and yoghurt for the not-so-hungry or those on diet), thrown in for good measures, The Retreat is a delight for anyone is need of a bit of rest and relaxation.

Once you’ve had your fill of Betty’s idiosyncrasies (if that’s even possible?), take a drive to Hermanus or Onrus. If you’re a wine fan, visit the emerging Overberg wine route that boasts spectacular scenery and is described as down-to-earth, sociable and unspoilt. Stretching from Elgin to L’Alguhas, the area is characterised by cool maritime breezes, producing some of the best wine in the country. Two personal recommendations are: Beaumont and Feiteiras.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the Sneaky Weekender articles on this website, do not necessarily reflect the views of Finding Africa.

Betty's Bay Beach
Copyright © 2009 | All rights reserved 
  |   Links Directory  |  Sitemap
Join Finding Africa on Facebook
  Video Diaries     
Video diaries on Youtube