Known for its beachside hotspots, Southern Africa isn’t short of gorgeous destinations with sublime ocean views offering some serious downtime. So kick off your shoes and take a deep breath of salty air this festive season in one of our favourite coastal summer hotspots.
Words By Helen Clemson and Debbie Hathway.
White Pearl Resorts in Mozambique overlooks one of the most magnificent beaches in Africa. Tucked behind casuarina trees, you’ll find 15 pool suites with spectacular sea views and six beach suites offering direct access to the shore. One of the main reasons to visit from November to February is the hope of your guide finding critically endangered leatherback and loggerhead turtles crawling up the Ponta Mamoli beach to nest at night. By day, if you want to do something other than simply laze, you can swim with dolphins, dive the coral reefs or marvel at elephants in the Maputo Special Reserve.
Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape
Many of Plett’s properties are new builds; sleek, contemporary mansions where the well-heeled can enjoy this fashionable resort destination. The Old Rectory Hotel and Spa, however, is a beautifully restored national monument (originally built in 1777), overhauled into an intimate boutique hotel. With 18 luxury suites (a quick walk down to the beach), expect a personal experience with a spa, in-house restaurant and rather fabulous pool. We also recommend you check out the Strand Street Beach House, an exclusive-use, six-bedroom villa, just a stone’s throw away from The Old Rectory.
Gansbaai, Western Cape
At Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, eco-tourism is fundamental to a stay at this landmark destination. You’ll find the property between mountains, forest and sea, situated on an enormous 2 500 hectares of pristine wilderness in the Cape Overberg. It’s worth visiting (even though you’re not right on the beachfront) due to the remarkable mix of milkwood forests, marine wildlife and 800 botanical species (six were actually discovered at Grootbos) as well as animal conservation. The lodges themselves are uber-chic – and very sustainably thought out. Grootbos has made a commitment to be single-use plastic-free (including in the kitchens) by 2020. ‘Outside of the kitchen environment, we have already eliminated all single-use plastic, and the kitchens remain the last piece of the puzzle,’ says Julie Cheetham, managing director of Grootbos Foundation and head of sustainability for Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
Chintsa East, Eastern Cape
This part of SA has always held magical appeal as a truly relaxing beach-holiday destination. With its eight luxury suites tucked into the bush, Prana Lodge is ideal for those seeking pampering at the spa or at the table, thanks to award-winning head chef Jaycee Ferreira’s tantalising cuisine. And the pristine beach is a short walk down the sand dunes. The nearby 18 hole championship golf course at Olivewood is a drawcard for sporty guests, while those with a penchant for trail-running or mountain-biking will want to test the tracks at Emerald Vale Brewery, which also offers craft-beer tastings, live music, a children’s play area and more in a beautiful rural setting.
Knysna, Western Cape
To enjoy this region of the Garden Route to the max, look no further than the famed Knysna Heads. Near these natural landmarks is idyllic Bollard Bay and overlooking it is a gem of a property, Leisure Isle Lodge, which offers boutique accommodation for those wanting to escape the throng that descends on the town come holiday season. What awaits? Not only a choice of lagoon or garden-facing rooms and suites, but a private in-house spa, too, offering massage, skincare and beauty treatments.
VILLA WITH A VIEW:
Paternoster, Western Cape
The fashionable West Coast has a plethora of properties offering scenic views of our famous coastline. While Mother Nature shows off outside, choose a place to stay that is as striking to admire on the inside too. Our pick is Abalone Pool Villas, rich with eclectic décor, colour and textures and, of course, a pool for taking in the fabulous views of the West Coast. Both villas are exclusive use (they sleep four in double bedrooms) and come with a butler on request. We so enjoyed breakfast (served privately at a leisurely past nine o’clock) in our villa as well as the little extras that city slickers need to keep in touch with the Big Smoke like Wi-Fi and, dare we admit, Netflix.