For Sea Breeze Devotees – Victoria Bay
In an area famed for its lovely beaches, sweeping views and rocky promontories, it can be hard to pick one spot that encapsulates the very best of the Garden Route. But then if you visit Victoria Bay, wedged between George and Wilderness, the choice becom
As dinky as it is beautiful, Vic Bay, as it’s known to locals, is just about the tiniest holiday hamlet you’re likely to come across on South Africa’s coastline. With literally one road in and out, it’s essentially little more than a cove, with a lovely white sand beach hemmed in by jumbles of rocks and steep hillsides. The only way it could be quainter was if it was British and populated by holidaying anthropomorphic dormice.
Despite its diminutive size, it delivers in spades everything from sea views and world-class surfing to superb walking routes and the family-friendliest beach you could let your toddler loose on.
In and Out of the Water
The beach at Vic Bay is one of the neatest you’ll come across. Well-manicured lawns nestle beneath a vegetated slope and run the width of the beach itself – so if you don’t like sand in your thong, you can pitch your umbrella on the green stuff. There’s excellent swimming to be had, and on the western end of the beach are a smattering of rock pools and a large tidal pool. If you have small kids, they can splash around here and chase the abundance of small fish.
Speaking of fish, the bay is popular with surf fishermen who either find their own spot on the rocks on either side of the bay, or cast off from the small jetty next to the tidal pool on the eastern side. Conditions are best when the tide is coming in, and dawn and dusk are your best bets – it will also mean you’re more likely to land a kob than a surfer.
Most surfers have no trouble speaking ad nauseam about the great waves they’ve caught (they’re not unlike fishermen in a sense), but Vic Bay is often spoken about in hushed tones – perhaps so it doesn’t get overrun. Simply put, the surf is amazing. There’s a consistent right point break that runs for about 300 m, so it’s a long, steady wave. As if this isn’t enough, the wave breaks from the point, so you can practically walk to the back line, hop in, and grab another.
Surfers of all levels can get something out of the wave, and it’s consistent throughout the year, though conditions are best May through to August.
The dolphin and whale watching at Vic Bay is also superb. The water is deep enough just off the rocks along the eastern side that the whales sometimes come extremely close to shore. Southern right and Humpback whales pass through in the winter and spring months – they calve and nurse their young in these waters, making the area one of the best in South Africa for whale watching. Dolphins are also resident year-round, the most common being Heaviside’s, Common, Dusky and Bottlenose dolphins.
If you fancy a bit of exertion, you can walk the old railway line from Vic Bay to Wilderness. A path leads up from the bay onto the line, which follows the curve of the seashore, offering lovely views of the ocean, so bring binoculars for a bit of whale watching. The line will take you through a few short tunnels, and as the line turns north towards the Kaaimans River mouth, you’ll be presented with a lovely view of the striking Kaaimans River Bridge.
Before crossing the bridge, look out for a small path leading up the hill. The ascent is steep, about a 130 m gain in altitude, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the river, bridge and Wilderness in the distance. There’s a circular trail through indigenous fynbos you can follow while you’re up there, so give yourself plenty of time to explore. Back on the tracks, you’ll go around a tight bend, known as Dolphin Point, which is technically a viewpoint on the N2 right above you. You’ll pop out on Leentjies Klip, the westernmost end of Wilderness’ staggeringly long beach. Have a quick dip, then enjoy the view in reverse as you head back the same way. Make sure you bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
Vikki’s at the Beach (+27 44 889 0212) is everything a beachside restaurant should be – friendly, relaxed, well priced, and with killer views of the sea. Offering up the best in holiday grub – think hake and chips, calamari and pizza – you’ll feel at home whether you’ve come fully coifed out of your holiday accommodation, or have horrendous beach hair.
If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of person, Vic Bay Caravan Park (www.victoriabaycaravanpark.co.za / +27 44 889 0081) has some of the best positioned plots in the country. Set above the single strip of accommodation, it offers grassed stands with phenomenal sea views, electricity and braai facilities, with some stands even including private ablutions.
Really though, if you’re going to do this, do it properly. Undoubtedly the most special place to stay is Land’s End (www.vicbay.com / +27 44 889 0123), right on the southern tip of the bay. You can practically step out of your room and onto the rocks, with the waves rolling past just metres away. It’s the kind of setting that will have you updating your Instagram furiously and cooing to yourself at the jealous comments you receive. Land’s End’s six self-catering apartments all have sun decks or verandas, sea views, fully-fitted kitchens, DStv, braai facilities and WiFi, not to mention access to a fully stocked wine cellar and watersport equipment to rent.
You’ll want to give yourself a lot of time in Vic Bay. Sure there’s loads to do in the surrounding area, but while you’re there, turn off your phone, sit still and soak in the chilled, beautiful vibe. It’s thoroughly enchanting.
The surf is amazing. There’s a consistent right point break that runs for about 300 m, so it’s a long, steady wave. As if this isn’t enough, the wave breaks from the point, so you can practically walk to the back line, hop in, and grab another.
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