Once a small fishing community just 145 km out of Cape Town, Paternoster is a growing destination for tourists and those who can afford to pack up their city lives and exchange smog for an endless West Coast skyline.
In celebration of our first wedding anniversary in March, my Mr and visited the village where humble fisherman’s cottages are interspersed between white painted beach homes and guest houses, facing the sea and saluting the sun.
And while there are few trees, sun-drenched gold and green Fynbos grows wild along the dunes. As the sun sinks, the last rays of light illuminate the edge of the leaves and soon after that, the sky is awash with pink, lavender and azure watercolours.
There’s a magical quality about West Coast skylines but Paternoster is not without it’s problems. It’s a diverse community that reflects the potential, problems and the inequality that exists in South Africa. Petty crime is high and tourists need to be cautious. However, we had a great time without incidence and of course, camera in hand, I was in my element! Here some recommendations of things to see and do, and my attempt to capture the pace of Paternoster…
Eat your heart out
If you visit Paternoster, I recommend taking a short drive out to the Shelley Point Hotel. They have poolside restaurant for visitors that overlooks the golf estate and beach in the distance. It’s gorgeous setting and surprisingly affordable since the restaurant is a Cattle Baron (franchise restaurant). It means you can feel larney while eating a burger. I like.
And if you’re looking for a real sensory experience, make a booking for dinner at Abalone House. I felt like we had stepped into another world when we went there for supper! The food was delicious and the ecliptic vintage decor and rich jewel colours swept me up and into another time (the glass of wine might have helped too).
Get out and into nature
Of course you can walk along the beach (we walked on the beach every day) or take a run or cycle through the village (we managed a 6km run/walk through the village which meant I got to look at all the houses and admire their coastal garden designs). But if you really want to get out and into nature, leave the village behind and venture into the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, a protected conservation area where, if you’re quick enough, you might be able to take a photo a duiker (little buck). I was not that fast.
While there, visit the Cape Columbine Lighthouse and if you dare, climb up the steep, narrow wooden stairs to the very top. It was a little scary but the view was spectacular!
If you love the idea of getting away from it all, stay inside the reserve at the Beach Camp. We had a guided tour through this ‘permanent’ camp site and it’s really quite something! You can camp there, no equipment required, because it’s all set up. It looks like fun but I must admit, I’ve never really camped (unless you can count sleeping in a tent in the backyard as a child camping) so I would need some convincing.
Be a culture vulture
In my mind, no holiday is complete without a visit to a museum or art gallery. I was delighted to find Di Heesom-Green’s lovely art gallery where we even got to see the artist at work on one of her sculptures.
Where to stay
We stayed at Paters Haven, a comfortable bed and breakfast guest house a few minutes’ walk from the beach.
For more information on Paternoster, visit capewestcoast.org