Wondering what to do in Plettenberg Bay? This guide sets out the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay. You’ll also find loads of useful tips to help you you thoroughly enjoy your visit to this scenic village.
If you’re mapping out your Garden Route itinerary, stopping by Plettenberg Bay for a few days is a huge must. The town packs the perfect mix of outdoor thrills, mind-blowing views, and oh-so-delicious food.
Although I highly recommend spending at least one week in Plett, this Plettenberg Bay itinerary can easily be adjusted to your traveling needs and style.
Plettenberg Bay Itinerary Pre-travel Tips
Before you start planning your Plettenberg Bay itinerary, there are a few things you should consider before visiting this scenic hillside town. Here are my top pre-travel tips for visiting Plettenberg Bay:
- If you aren’t self-driving, the nearest airport is in George. There are frequent flights from Johannesburg, but you’ll need to book tickets well in advance if you’re traveling during peak season. Rent a car at the airport to travel effortlessly onwards.
- For travelers extending their Cape Town itinerary, I highly recommend renting a car and driving down to Plett. It’s a very scenic drive taking you past gorgeous vistas, flourishing vineyards, and quaint towns. There are, however, flights from Cape Town, albeit less frequent and with much steeper price tags.
- While it’s pretty easy to navigate your way around town on foot, you’ll need a car to explore the rest of the area and the Garden Route hassle-free. This will allow you to plan your stops, get around quickly, and be more flexible.
- This Plettenberg Bay itinerary is jam-packed with incredible things to do in and near Plett. If you can add a few more days to your trip, you can easily stretch your Garden Route itinerary and add a few other interesting stops, like Knysna, Wilderness, and George.
- Learn a few local phrases to help you get so much more out of your trip.
- Grab a Lonely Planet guidebook to help out during your South Africa travels.
- Don’t forget to get travel insurance when traveling in South Africa. Crime is not uncommon, and if you’re adding some of the many adventure activities to your must-do list, it’s best to be covered. I highly recommend booking travel insurance with World Nomads, which will ensure you and your belongings are safe.
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Incredible Things to do in Plettenberg Bay
This detailed guide stems from spending extended periods in Plett over the past few years. Since there are so many great things to keep you busy, here are all the must-dos when exploring South Africa’s premier beach destination.
Hit the beaches
If you’re looking for perfect golden-sand beaches, you’re in luck. Plett is revered for its gorgeous beaches, and you won’t need to go far to enjoy terrific beach vibes.
There are three beaches in Plett, all equally jaw-dropping. However, your choice is likely to be influenced by your personal beach preferences. Let’s have a quick look at Plett’s beaches:
- Lookout beach near Hill street is the perfect spot to enjoy some beach time, swim safely with lifeguards nearby, and surf.
- Central beach near Beacon Island Resort is a popular spot among locals and families. Although it’s a nice beach, expect large crowds especially during the summer holidays. Come here if you like a bit of buzz on a beach. Central beach is also a popular spot to host events in Plett and during the December holidays there are a bunch of fun activities for the whole family.
- Those looking to escape the crowds can head to Robberg beach, which is also near Beacon Isle. This 5km stretch beach offers beachgoers a much more chilled vibe and is the perfect spot for long relaxing strolls. During peak seasons, you’ll see lifeguards at selected points along the beach.
Top Beach Tips
- Safety first: Although the Western Cape sees less crime than other parts of South Africa, please use the same caution you would while traveling anywhere else in the world. Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t bring valuables with you to the beach or leave your belongings unattended.
- Swimming: Plett’s waters have strong currents. Therefore it’s best to always stick to designated swimming areas with stationed lifeguards.
- Extra sun protection: Before hitting the beach, make sure you are protected against the sun. Besides your favorite shades and a hat, you’ll also want to cover up with a high-quality waterproof sunscreen.
- Stay hydrated: Always bring a water bottle when hitting the beach so that you can stay hydrated. Since it’s safe to drink the tap water in South Africa, it’s a good idea to invest in a reusable water bottle.
Hike Robberg Nature Reserve
Robberg Nature Reserve is only a short drive away from town and undeniable one of the best places to experience untouched nature. With rock formations dating back more than 120 million years, it’s no surprise Robberg is also a World Heritage Site.
Besides its evident beauty and unique geological history, Robberg Nature Reserve is also home to a flourishing plant and animal life. Most notably, the rare blue duiker and a thriving seal colony.
Several scenic hiking trails along the peninsula also allow a chance to get close to nature and spot dolphins, seals, and whales frolicking nearby.
The three circular hiking trails vary in length and difficulty, allowing you to really experience the beauty of this area at your own pace and skill level.
Those just looking for a gentle walkabout can explore the plateau, before heading to the beach. Just past the Gap, you’ll spot the wooden stairway leading to a beautiful secluded beach.
More serious hikers, on the other hand, may consider trekking the Witsand or The Point hikes. Both of these hikes are not for the faint-hearted, so be prepared to break a sweat. The Point hike takes about four hours and is the most challenging hike to complete.
Tips for visiting Robberg Nature Reserve
- Entrance Fee: This is a protected area, so you’ll need to pay a small conservation fee to enter the reserve. These funds help maintain the park and ensure it’s safeguarded for future generations.
- Respect the Environment: It’s not uncommon to spot snakes and other venomous animal life here. Therefore, please always remember to tread carefully while visiting here. Littering and approaching the wildlife is also strictly forbidden.
- Time your visit: Unless you’re staying overnight at Fountain Shack, know that the park closes at 20: 00 (Oct-Apr) and 18:00 (May-Septpt) daily.
Grab Sundowners at The Lookout Deck
Lookout Beach is home to gorgeous ocean views, great surf, and one of the best restaurants in town – The Lookout Deck. With a tantalizing food and cocktail menu, it’s the perfect spot to watch the waves come and go. While the menu caters to all kinds of pallets, you can’t go wrong with any of their seafood options!
The Lookout Deck can get crowded, so reserving a table during peak season is highly encouraged.
Enjoy the views at Whale Tail Lookout Point
For jaw-dropping ocean views and a chance to spot dolphins and whales (in season) frolicking in the bay, be sure to head over to Whale Tail Lookout Point. There are a couple of benches where you can sit back, watch the waves come and go, spot surfers, or even enjoy a picnic. Although it’s pretty amazing all day long, I highly recommend visiting at sunset.
To get here, you can either drive to the end of Formosa Street, where you’ll find a big parking lot. Alternatively, access the viewpoint from the footpath which runs behind The Lookout Deck.
Take a drive on Beachyhead Drive
Beachyhead Drive, also locally known as ‘millionaire’s drive’, offers a scenic drive along the Robberg beach peninsula. Here you’ll find the crème de la crème of luxury homes.
Along the way, you’ll find many quick footpaths leading down to the beach, where you’re likely to have the beach all to yourself!
Browse the quirky shops
Within town and along the N2 between Knysna and Keurbooms, you’ll find quite a few quirky stalls to drop by. Whether your shopping for cute art pieces, home decor, designer clothing or delicious deli snacks – there’s something for everyone in Plett.
Some of my favorite road stalls to drop by include Thyme and Again, The Potter and Global Village.
Relax at Old Nick’s Village
One of the best places in Plettenberg Bay to experience the town’s laidback vibes is at Old Nick Village. Although the village might be best known for its beautiful gardens, galleries and artisan shops, it has quite a unique history too. The main building complex dates back to 1880, and once served as a general dealer in the area. Today, however, you can enjoy the stunning grounds, visit the artsy shops and even learn more about the weaving process at Mungo mill – a newly constructed space offering visitors a unique glimpse into the textile industry.
Get up close with wildlife
Near Plett, you’ll find several great wildlife sanctuaries where efforts are being made to protect South Africa’s unique animal life. Some of the most notable (and ethical) sanctuaries that you might want to consider adding to your list of things to do in Plettenberg Bay include Monkeyland, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, Birds of Eden and the Elephant Sanctuary.
By joining one of their tours, you’ll have the chance to spot animals in their natural habitat and gain a wealth of knowledge. You’ll also be helping these establishments to continue efforts to protect wildlife.
When to visit Plettenberg Bay
While Plett is an excellent destination to visit year-round, it is not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day! Here’s a quick look at the best time to visit Plettenberg Bay.
During summer (Dec-Feb), expect gorgeous sunny days with some occasional rain. Temperatures may rise as high as 37°C, so remember to put on extra sun protection and stay hydrated. Summer is peak season in Plett, so expect the town to be brimming with tourists and higher accommodation prices, especially during the festive holidays. If you still want to enjoy gorgeous beach days sans the crowds, it’s best to come before the schools close (end Nov) or after the schools reopen (Jan).
In winter (Jun – Aug), you might still see some winter sun, but for most parts, it can be quite gloomy and cold. Rain isn’t uncommon during winter either. If you are visiting Plettenberg Bay during winter, pack plenty of layers and a warm coat. Temperatures generally average between 9 – 22°C.
Spring (Sep-Nov) or autumn (March-May) are excellent times to visit Plettenberg Bay. Expect fewer tourists, lower accommodation prices (excl. Easter holidays), and pleasant temperatures ranging from low to mid twenties. The evenings can, however, still be chilly, so remember to pack a light jacket.
Whale season runs from June to November, and chances are high to spot Humpback and Southern Right whales during this time. However, Bryde’s whales, and (if you’re fortunate), orcas, can be spotted year-round.
Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay
There is no shortage of fantastic accommodation options in Plettenberg Bay. Whether you’re looking to rent a house, traveling on a shoestring, or seeking luxury accommodation, Plett has something for everyone. Here are my top picks on Plettenberg Bay accommodation:
- Treat yourself: The Plettenberg Hotel offers visitors amazing food, excellent seaside views, and is a short stroll to the beach.
- Mid-Range: Beacon Island Resort offers quality accommodation and great service with easy access to the beach.
- Budget: Nothando Backpackers Lodge is right in the heart of town. All rooms have garden views and it’s only a 15-minute walk from Central beach.
Where to eat in Plettenberg Bay
For its size, Plettenberg Bay surprisingly has a lot of choice when it comes to food. Seeing that Plett is a seaside village, expect to find seafood to be the star on most menus. Most restaurants in South Africa do, however, offer vegetarian options. If you are vegan, it’s still pretty easy to find excellent vegan-friendly restaurants in Plett.
- The Lookout Deck (see the map here) is the perfect spot for sundowners, excellent fresh seafood, and terrific seaside views.
- Off the Hook (see map here) – Expect high-quality food with an authentic Lebanese twist. It’s a great spot, especially for lunch. We always enjoy sitting outside, but watching the traffic come and go might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
- The Roost Cafe (see map here) has beautiful outdoor seating and serves earthy classics, freshly baked bread and glorious sweet treats. I highly recommend the avo toast and lemon meringue! Oh and just a tip – you might spot a few cheeky monkeys while visiting here. Please remember that they are wild animals, so trying to approach or feed them is highly discouraged.
- The Table (see the map here) on Main Street is a popular spot among pizza lovers. It’s a lively restaurant and the pizzas are to die for!
- The beautiful interior and mind blowing views from The Grand’s terrace make it a must-visit (see on the map here). Added to that, the food is simply amazing! The Grand is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there’s a neat little bar where you can enjoy their extensive wine list. Make reservations well in advance, especially during peak season.
- A stones-throw from town, you’ll find one of the most romantic eateries in Plett – Emily Moon (see on the map here). Here you can enjoy a mouthwatering home-style menu with magnificent views overlooking the river, wetlands, and mountains.
Easy day trips from Plettenberg Bay
While Plettenberg Bay is a fantastic destination to visit, it’s also a great place to base yourself for several day trips.
There are so many beautiful places to visit on the Garden Route. And, some of the popular day trips from Plettenberg Bay include stopping by Knysna and Wilderness. However, if you’re looking for laidback vibes, Keurbooms is an excellent choice. The village is a stone-throw from Plett and has gorgeous stretched out white sand beaches.
Nature seekers shouldn’t miss the chance to spend a day at the Garden Route’s best-kept secret – Nature’s Valley. While more adventurers travelers looking for the perfect mix of nature and outdoor thrills may choose to drop by Storms River Mouth.
That wraps up this guide on the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay. Have you visited Plett yet? What tips do you have for fellow travelers planning a Plettenberg Bay itinerary? Let us know in the comments below.
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