The West Coast
Geography and history
The West Coast region is renowned for its 16 Mile Beach at Yzerfontein, the popular West Coast National Park and Langebaan Lagoon, while its inland attractions such as satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys’ “Evita’sPerron” at Darling and the spectacular Cedarberg. This region forms part of the Western Cape province of South Africa. Made up of 44 towns, it extends from Blaauwberg in the Cape Metropolitan Area in the south, to the provincial border of Namaqualand in the north.
The coastal route from Cape Town to Lambert’s Bay is about 270km and includes 16 Mile Beach at Yzerfontein, the stunning West Coast National Park, Langebaan Lagoon and the charming seaside towns of Velddrif and Paternoster where you can climb to the top of Cape Columbine lighthouse and watch the return of the multi-coloured fishing boats.
A little further up the coast, the West Coast National Park is the closest spot outside of Cape Town where one can sample the spring flower season. The Fossil Park, which lies just next door to the park, has uncovered 200 different kinds of animals, many of them new to science.
The West Coast is split into six regiongs each with its own character and beauty :
Cederberg Region :
The region offers a rich natural heritage, fruit-filled valleys and towering mountains. The beautiful Olifants River Valley, with its snaking irrigation canals, sustains a large citrus industry which is a hive of activity during the winter harvest time. This is also Rooibos tea country, being the only place in the world where the bush, producing this healthy beverage, is grown.
Peninsula Region :
For many the Cape West Coast Peninsula (Saldanha Bay Municipal Region) typifies the West Coast with its quaint fishing villages, sea-side resorts and ever popular lagoon. It lies south of the Berg River mouth and includes the West Coast National Park, stretching inland to Hopefield.
The Bergrivier sub-region is named after one of the major rivers of the Western Cape. It starts in the mountains of Stellenbosch and eventually reaches the Atlantic Ocean at Velddrif.
The river is the main water source for the numerous wine farms along its banks. It is heaven to bird-watchers, fishermen and sailing enthusiasts. It is here where the meandering Berg River flows into the Atlantic, and also the finish-line of the annual Berg River Canoe Marathon. Nearby Port Owen also offers a deep-water marina.
The Matzikama region borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west and includes the Sandveld, Knersvlakte and the Matzikamma Mountain range. The region takes pride in their mountain peaks such as the Gifberg, Maskam and Koebee, while the coastal region is a haven to migrating whales from July.
This is the gateway to the West Coast and the most southerly of the sub-regions, with Malmesbury being a mere 64km from Cape Town. It is best known for its undulating yellow wheat fields, interspersed by vivid green vineyards.
The land has, for most of its recorded history, been used for large-scale wheat farming and has become known as the breadbasket of South Africa, with wine- and olive production becoming more prominent. The oldest wine estate dates back to 1696. The name 'Swartland' (black land) originated from the indigenous Renosterveld, the unique and threatened vegetation of the area. These shrubs are dark grey and turn almost black in summer, therefore the name.
The Hardeveld lies between the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Bokkeveld plateau in the east. The railway line ends at Bitterfontein, the largest town of the region. The only green granite in the world is transported from here. The villages are small and many have their origins as mission stations or stockposts and still reflect this quaint character.
The wonderful spectrum of visitor accommodation ranges is available - guest houses to self-catering cottages, wine farms, lodges and much more. Please view our accommodation directory for more information on the accommodation in the area.
This is a sportsman’s and water sport enthusiast’s paradise having a wide variety of adventure activities facilities including, wreck diving, surfing, and snorkelling. Conventional sport facilities are also in abundance with golf, squash, tennis, indoor heated pools, horse riding and swimming.
The West Coast offers a variety of restaurants and you will have the option to try out fresh oysters, seafood, traditional South African dishes etc
Information on the businesses you can find along the West Coast please visit our business directory.