With the beautiful Indian Ocean at our doorstep, both Knysna and Plett offer amazing coastal activities to make outdoor enthusiasts green with envy.
Most recently, both areas have been appointed as official Hope Spots in South Africa. There are only six in the country, we are very fortunate to be able to claim two of these. For those of you who aren’t sure of what that means, let’s take a closer look.
Hope Spots are special conservation areas that are critical to the health of the ocean – Earth’s blue heart. World famous marine conservationist (the very sprightly 80 year old pioneer) Dr. Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue International is committed to developing Hope Spots around the world, with 50 Hope Spots already in existence. Networks of Hope Spots maintain biodiversity, provide a carbon sink, generate life-giving oxygen, preserve critical habitat and allow low-impact activities like ecotourism to thrive. Pretty crucial and impressive stuff you will agree. It goes without saying that what’s good for the ocean is ultimately good for us. This isn’t merely a case of slapping on a plaque or two and having a few ra ra’s though. Many people are committed to this very important cause. By engaging government, businesses, schools, research organisations, universities, civil society and the media, Hope Spots effect significant changes so that future generations can thrive on a healthy planet, with a healthy ocean.
Now that the concept of a Hope Spot is clear, let’s move on and have a good look at the beauty and fun that these areas can offer nature lovers. Firstly, no visit to the area is complete without a hike on Robberg Peninsula in Plettenberg Bay. This breathtaking nature reserve is a national monument and for very good reason. The Fynbos, found only along the Southern Cape Coast of SA, makes for uniquely beautiful vegetation. Alongside the inspiring landscape, visitors can expect to see incredible marine life.
Outside of Knysna, on the way to Plett, you will find the Garden of Eden Forest Walk. This takes you along a meandering path of wooden boardwalks, created to give you a feeling that you are in the middle of the forest. Here you will find giant moss and lichen covered trees, streams and cheeky forest dwellers with fur – vervet monkeys.
Looking for something a little more up close and personal? Experience the largest guests who frequent the shores in both towns, southern right and humpback whales between the months of May and October during whale season. Witness the antics of the Cape Fur Seal in Plett and discover the playfulness of dolphins during a marine safari with Ocean Blue Adventure, Offshore Adventures or Ocean Safaris. Alternatively you will find Ocean Odyssey, Springtide Charters, Knysna RIB Adventures, Ocean Adventures, Ocean Safaris or Featherbed for great viewing opportunities in Knysna.
For those who want to break a sweat, grab your paddles and canoe and head to the Knysna Estuary or take the plunge and kayak off one of Plett’s beaches. Enjoy close encounters with dolphins, seals and possibly whales (although not too close in this case is best). Both towns also offer the trendy stand-up-paddling option – otherwise known as ‘SUP’. For water-babies and ‘dudes’, there is always the opportunity to surf at Buffalo Bay, just outside of Knysna or at Robberg 5 or Lookout Beach in Plett. All in all, there are seven Blue Flag Beaches between the two.
The fauna and flora in the Garden Route is undoubtedly unparalleled in beauty. However what you see above the ocean, pales in comparison to the beauty that lies beneath it. The Southern Cape Coast is a very nutrient-rich coastal area and as such it sustains diverse and interesting marine animals. The local reefs in Plett are covered in soft corals, anemones and sponges – sporting vibrant colours of reds, oranges, pinks and purples. Qualified scuba divers can explore reefs, caves, walls and pinnacles and come face to ‘face’ with shysharks, ragged tooth sharks and many species of reef fish.
So you’ve bought the cute cap, donned the floral shirt and sold the camper van. You are halfway to sailing bliss. All you need is a sea faring vessel with a colourful sail and you’re good to go. Knysna and Plett are both well known for sailing, ideal places to launch and spend quality time with family and friends.
Knysna and Plett offer a great village vibe at its best and they don’t mind sharing.