Driving the Garden Route Day 5: Seaside in Mossel Bay & Hermanus
Rolling out of Oudtshoorn around mid-morning, we are back on the highway and headed towards Mossel Bay as the cloud cover gives way to sun, promising another day of fantastic summer weather. By the time we reach the seaside about an hour later, we are delighted to be getting out of the car to enjoy the sun and ocean views (conveniently forgetting to apply any sunscreen in all the excitement, so naturally I look like a lobster now).
After stopping several times to admire the brilliantly blue water, we drive down to the Harbour and buy tickets for a short boat trip to Seal Island departing in about 30 minutes, getting suitably lost as we try to find the correct dock and the right boat. We do eventually find the Romanza sailboat and file on with about 2 dozen other guests, perching ourselves against the railing, cameras at the ready. The whole trip lasts just under an hour as we sail out across the bay (catching a lot of wind as we go) towards the little rock that is home to nearly 4,000 fur seals.
Once we reach the island, we loop around and take photos of the adorable barking seals as they bask in the sun and flop around in the nearby water before heading back to the Harbour. The wind appears to have picked up even in the last few minutes, though, so we end up doused with seawater on the trip back— I try and roll myself into a protective ball around my camera bag, but it just means that I end up covered in salt and am a bit crunchy for the rest of the day.
After our little boat trip, we sit for some fish and chips at the bustling Sea Gypsy restaurant right on the water, indulging in a few afternoon drinks because we’re on holiday and we deserve it. It’s difficult to pull ourselves away from the amazing ocean views, especially considering that we have a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us, but we do eventually hop back in the car and settle in for the long trip to Hermanus. Mum is feeling a little disappointed that we aren’t staying in Mossel Bay, but all of that disappointment fades when we roll into Hermanus in the golden light of the evening and are both stunned speechless by the scenery.
Caught between dramatic mountains and some of the most spectacular coastline we’ve yet seen in South Africa, Hermanus is a small beach town filled with upscale shops, colourful markets, fine dining restaurants, and boutique wineries. Most notably though (at least in my book) is the unbelievably picturesque Fernkloof Nature Reserve and its 12km Cliff Path that follows the coastline— my only regret is that we won’t have enough time to walk the entire thing! Once again, we are well and truly blown away by the Garden Route, it’s absolutely no wonder that people recommend this road trip as a “must do” in SA.
Checking into our wonderful little B&B, the owner points us towards the “most spectacular viewpoint” in town, Gearing’s Point, and we trot quickly off to explore this small section of the Cliff Path. Arriving around sunset, we are suitably impressed with the recommendation and spend the next hour and a bit of daylight walking along the trail, taking hundreds of photos of the rocky coastline and the towering mountains in the distance. I can’t possibly imagine a more beautiful spot to be right in this moment.
As the sun comes down, we pop just across the road to enjoy dinner with a view at Burgundy, an incredibly lovely restaurant with some rather high-end options. It’s the perfect end to what has been another phenomenal day driving through South Africa, and we make plans over dinner to spend a bit more time in Hermanus in the morning before driving onward to Stellenbosch. The only thing I would change about this road trip is doubling or even tripling the time we have, because everywhere has been so beautiful that we never have enough time.