Gansbaai could very well be the most well-known coastal destination in South Africa. What was once a sleepy fishing village with a few hundred residents has grown to become a thriving tourist hotspot that attracts thousands of local and international visitors from all over the world.
The directions to Gansbaai are easy-to-follow and the town is located on the R43, about a 30-minute drive from Hermanus if you are travelling toward Cape Agulhas. Nestled in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, Gansbaai is undoubtedly the Overberg’s gem. Gansbaai is subdivided by suburbs that include De Kelders, Perlemoenbaai, Gansbaai Town, Dangerpoint, Kleinbaai and Franskraal. The outlying areas of Uilenkraalsmond and Pearly Beach are also referred to under the same umbrella, although the latter is about a 20-minute drive away.
Accommodation in Gansbaai is plentiful, from luxury all-inclusive stays at a five-star lodge set among Milkwood trees and indigenous Fynbos in a nature reserve, to a long list of self-catering homes and B&Bs run by friendly locals. Camping enthusiasts will be happy to know that there are award-winning caravan parks offering modern facilities and amenities.
The restaurants in Gansbaai cater for everyone and there are luxury fine-dining establishments, country cuisine bistro’s, laid-back family-friendly pizzerias and informal grill houses serving everything from the catch of the day to delicious steaks. Be sure to drive inland towards the farmlands so that you can explore nearby Baardskeerdersbos and Elim while on your visit to the area. Baardskeerdersbos is well-known for its talented artists who host a yearly art route that features prominently on South Africa's art calendar. The route is also fast becoming known as the Gansbaai Wine Route and visitors are in for a treat when they discover the growing number of boutique wine farms along the way.
Excavations have shown that since the beginning of time a primitive man saw Gansbaai as a good place to settle. The original indigenous population of the Western Cape, the Khoi-San tribe were also inhabitants of the Klipgat Cave in De Kelders. The cave is accessible to the public and can be found in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve just outside De Kelders.
The rocky Gansbaai coastline is known for over 140 shipping fatalities, most notably HMS Birkenhead that was wrecked off Danger Point in 1852. It was this shipping disaster that began the code of conduct “women and children first”, and resulted in the building of the Danger Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse is accessible to the public and the climb to the top offers magnificent panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and Danger Point Peninsula.
Nowadays boat trips are safe, plentiful and available to the public, weather permitting of course. Known around the globe as the Great White Shark capital of the world, Gansbaai is the place to be if you want to get up close and personal with these predators. Walker Bay is also a favourite among the Southern Right Whale population. The gentle giants of the ocean migrate from the Antarctic to the sheltered bays along Southern Africa’s Atlantic Ocean to give birth to their young and to procreate.
Gansbaai beaches offer a seaside mecca for the whole family. The coastline offers an abundance of opportunities for surfing, diving, swimming and of course fishing. Explore the endless white sandy beaches at Die Plaat that stretches from De Kelders to Hermanus. The De Kelders drip Caves are among the oldest caves in Africa and can be found next to a sheltered cove perfect for swimming. Stanford's Cove beach is a favourite with families who have small children and the rock pools offer safe paddle pools for the little ones. Further along the coast is Franskraal Beach, Uilkraalsmond Lagoon and holiday resort. The resort is a must-visit for families and offers things to do that include a water slide, mini-golf and an activity centre. Further along the coast, Pearly Beach offers a stretch of coastline well known for angling as well as scenic horse-rides.
If you need more to keep you busy while on your stay visit the local Gansbaai Tourism Bureau which was voted by travellers as one of the top tourism bureaus in Southern Africa. The team at the information centre will point you in the right direction if you want to know about other outdoor adventures, activities, events and things to do in Gansbaai and the surrounding area.
Many of the locals will tell you that most of the community first came to Gansbaai on holiday then loved it so much that they decided to make it their full-time home. The Gansbaai property market is full of pleasant surprises and if the thought crosses your mind and there are property investments just waiting to be discovered.