Down the Coast to Plettenberg Bay

The day before we left Jeffrey's Bay we thought we would go and do a little shopping and browsing at the local outlets. To our surprise we found them all closed on a Saturday afternoon. Thus we learned of one of South Africa's local traditions; shops close up at about 3 p.m. on a Saturday. Fortunately they were open for a few hours on Sunday morning so we stopped in before we hit the road.

Our next destination was a town called Plettenberg Bay down the coast about two hours or so. The sun was out, which pleased us after a couple of windy, rainy days. The drive wasn't too bad and the coastal scenery started to improve with mountains coming closer to the sea making for more drama. There are a lot of small rivers that come out of the mountains and empty into the sea creating great cracks in the landscape. We stopped at the Storms River to admire one such gully.

About half way along to Plett we made a detour to check out Nature's Valley. This is a nature preserve at a river mouth which has a big sand beach and a lagoon. It was quite windy but we wandered out to the beach and admired the views. There were a few families having a Sunday afternoon braai. Braai is the South African term for a barbeque. It's also a favorite national pastime, to which we can easily relate!

The lagoon



Sea snails devouring a blue bottle jelly

We arrived in Plettenberg Bay in mid-afternoon and found Bayside Lodge, our B & B. Our room was delightful with lots of natural light and the gardens were fragrant with jasmine and roses. Adrienne and Bernie, our hosts, purchased Bayside Lodge about 7 months ago having moved back to South Africa from Botswana where they managed several safari lodges. We got a nice orientation from Adrienne, decided on a venue for dinner which she booked for us, and settled in for a sundowner on the patio, where I did some writing.

Our dinner at The Fat Fish was good with the atmosphere quite busy and boisterous. I enjoyed a local fish called Kingclip. We have found the quality of the food to be very high in South Africa. In addition it is also quite reasonably priced. Of course it helps that the dollar is pretty strong right now, but in general, food is cheap and drink is cheaper! A glass of wine is about $3 and a beer $2.


Jeffrey’s Bay

We are now settled into our lodgings in Cape Town for four nights and have already had adventures here, but I have a bit of catching up to do so let me go back to last week.

After our taxing day of travel to Port Elizabeth, we awoke early to a somewhat cloudy day. Breakfast at our guesthouse was quite nice. Our bags arrived from the airport and we enjoyed the garden with its blooming bougainvillea and birds, as well as the local canine resident, a very friendly and fluffy border collie. Our first impressions of Port Elizabeth however included the high walls and scary fences that surrounded every property. This is not unusual though, it's just a fact of life in some areas.

Bayside Guesthouse

After breakfast we went for a walk down to the waterfront a few blocks away. It was quite blustery but we identified a local grocery store and decided to return for supplies once we'd checked out.

Port Elizabeth waterfront

Our first foray into a local supermarket was instructive but really, it wasn't that different from home. Like many markets in other countries, you must weigh the produce before you get to the checkout. We bought a few snacks but kept things minimal.

Our next destination was Jeffrey's Bay, a bit over an hour away by car. Michael did an excellent job acclimating to the left hand driving and the directions were quite simple. It was a fairly windy day which we noticed in the car, but we also figured this was quite normal as we saw wind farms along the way with humongous propellor windmills. When we arrived at AT The Beach in Jeffrey's Bay we were met by Glenn Bowles, the proprietor. Our studio apartment was just as described and fronted the beach directly across from one of the famous surf breaks, occupying the lowest level of their hillside house. The views were truly stupendous and with direct, private beach access, we were quite happy.

The view

The kitchen

The bedroom with view of the water from bed!

Michael and Glenn discussed the surf which was, coincidentally, quite good. This is not the season for good surf in Jeffrey's Bay but Michael was in luck. The winds had been onshore for two weeks before we got there, producing no good surfing conditions, but they had just changed. After settling in, we went in search of a surfboard for Michael to rent so he could surf. After checking a couple of local shops and grabbing a bite for lunch, we found a suitable board and went back to our shangri-la. Michael eagerly donned the spring wetsuit he had brought with him and went out to surf. It was really fun for me to be able to watch him easily from our deck, sometimes assisted by the binoculars or my camera.

Micheal chats in the lineup


The water was cold but Michael stayed out for quite a while and I enjoyed some peaceful time in our studio or on the deck. When he came back he was a popsicle and we rushed him into a hot shower for a warm up. Really the water had been colder than expected and everyone else was wearing a full wetsuit. I'm sure he garnered some points in the lineup for toughing it out in a short sleeved and short legged wetsuit, but we quickly decided that in the morning, if the surf was still good, we'd find him a full wetsuit to rent. No sense in risking hypothermia. Our first night we went out to a greek restaurant for dinner and enjoyed some fresh local calamari.

The rest of our time in Jeffrey's Bay was spent relaxing, enjoying the beach, and doing a little shopping. We dined a couple of times at a local place called Nina's which we quite liked, as well as once at a place called In Food Blu. The beach was particularly good for shelling and we found abalone shells and other pretty things. One day we saw a big jellyfish washed up and Michael identified a strange looking thing as a shark's egg.

The jelly

Our pad is the lowest level

Michael got to surf two more times and we even saw dolphins playing in the surf from our deck. All in all we felt we had lucked out with the surf conditions and really enjoyed some down time just watching the ocean.

Dolphins in the surf

The weather wasn't perfect while we were in Jeffrey's Bay. We had some sunshine, but quite a lot of cloudy, windy weather, and even some rain.