Planning a trip to Paternoster and wondering what to do? This detailed guide sets out everything you need to know about visiting South Africa’s most beautiful fishing village. Discover the best things to do in Paternoster, when to visit, where to stay and eat, and everything in between!
Paternoster is one of South Africa’s most beautiful and iconic fishing villages. The small town is well known for its white-washed fishermen’s cottages, incredible seafood, friendly locals, bustling art scene, and long-isolated white sandy beaches.
As one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast, Paternoster is a quick 2-hour drive north from Cape Town and the perfect place for a relaxing getaway.
Moreover, it is one of the best small towns to visit in South Africa and boasts plenty to do, see, and try. If you’re looking to soak up the sun, watch the waves, enjoy some seafood and unwind from the city vibes nearby – Paternoster is the place for you!
Did you know? Paternoster means “Our Father.” The village obtained its name from the sincere prayers of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors. Hundreds of ships have wrecked in South Africa’s dangerous West Coast coastline over the years.
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The Best Things to do in Paternoster
After exploring Cape Town’s colorful streets and getting your fair share of wine in the Cape Winelands, Paternoster is just the place to kick back and unwind. This village oozes tranquility! And it’s exactly this relaxing atmosphere that makes it such a special place to visit. So get ready to relax, immerse yourself in nature, feast on gourmet food, and enjoy the very best of South Africa’s pristine West Coast.
Just a head’s up, though — since Paternoster’s biggest draw is undoubtedly its relaxing atmosphere, don’t expect a booming party scene or a ton of things to do. There’s a different pace of life here, and everything shuts down quite early. So with that in mind, here are my suggestions on the best things to do in Paternoster.
Take long strolls on the beach
One of the best things to do in Paternoster is unquestionably enjoying a peaceful stroll on the beach. Paternoster’s beach is a long (mostly) isolated strip taking you past white-washed cottages, rugged fynbos, and colorful fishing boats. Sunset chasers can also enjoy terrific sunsets here.
Head to one of the boulders if you want to get a better view of the kaleidoscope of colors shimmering on the water.
Dip your toes
The cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean only see the bravest of souls, even during summer (Dec-Feb). But no visit to a stunning seaside village such as Paternoster would be complete without attempting to dip your toes in the ocean at least.
Kayak to the Penguin S
Kayak tours run on most days but depend on the weather and season. With an early morning tour, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of these cute birds in their natural habitat and enjoy terrific ocean views.
Head to the information center near Mosselbank beach for more details on booking a kayak tour in Paternoster.
Visit the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve
Nature seekers can enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the West Coast a short 10-minute drive from Paternoster at the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve (find it on Google Maps here). It’s a tranquil oasis home to amazing views and diverse fauna and flora.
During spring the reserve is covered with a blanket of beautiful wildflowers. Bird watchers and whale spotters can also get a closer look at the diverse animal life on offer here.
The reserve covers 263 hectares of ground, so it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature. Apart from hiking along the coastline, and spotting whales or dolphins frolicking nearby, you might also want to pop by the lighthouse. The Cape Columbine Lighthouse was built in 1936 and is one of the very last manually operated towers in South Africa.
It is possible to spend a few nights in the reserve, but it’s best to book a campsite or beach shack well in advance. Alternatively, spend at least a few hours here exploring the off the beaten paths or perhaps even enjoying a peaceful picnic.
There is an R25.30 entrance fee per person to enter the reserve and should you wish to go further afield to the lighthouse it’s an additional R16.99. These prices were correct at the time of writing this post, but as prices often change, it’s always a good idea to confirm rates directly with the staff at the entrance gate.
Browse the quirky galleries and shops
Paternoster is well known for its art scene. Apart from the quirky shops selling cute home accessories, seashells, and local delicacies, there are also quite a few art galleries worth visiting. I highly recommend stopping by At Botha’s Art Gallery (a famous South African actor turned artist).
Have a drink at the famous Panty Bar
The Paternoster Hotel’s Panty Bar is one of the oldest buildings in Paternoster and most probably one of the weirdest bars I’ve ever visited! And, just as its name suggests, the bar is filled with ladies’ underwear hanging from its roof.
The original building was built as early as 1863, and apart from changing hands over the years, it’s also been a mall, a school, and even a jail. In 1940, it was converted into a hotel, and a few years later the owner started hanging ‘honeymoon panties’ up in the bar.
Since then, the Panty Bar has been a popular pitstop for visitors from near and far, especially bikers. It’s pretty small inside, so it gets busy quickly. If it’s too crowded, opt to enjoy an ice-cold beer in front of the Paternoster Hotel.
When to visit Paternoster
Paternoster is a great village to visit year-round. In the springtime (late Aug-Sep) the weather starts to heat up, and wildflowers burst out all over town.
During summer the town bustles with tourists seeking laidback beach vibes and sunny weather. Prices are steeper, and gets crowded quickly.
In fall and winter, Paternoster is cold, and the weather can be rather unpleasant with strong winds. There are, however, fewer tourists during these seasons, so expect lower accommodation prices. If you do visit during winter, prepare to snuggle up next to the fireplace with a book.
Peak season runs between Dec-Jan, April and late August. Although prices tend to be steeper, the weather is much more pleasant during these months.
Before jetting off to South Africa, it’s a good idea to also know these handy travel tips for your first visit to South Africa.
How to get to Paternoster from Cape Town
The easiest way to reach Paternoster is by car. If you have flown in from Cape Town International, you can pick up a rental car near the airport. Seeing that Paternoster is only 145km from Cape Town, the journey shouldn’t set you back more than 3 hours.
The fastest route to get to Paternoster is the R27. The road runs along the coastline and offers spectacular ocean views along the way.
Alternatively, take the R337 via Malmesbury and Darling. The scenic drive takes you through deep-lying valleys and past rolling hills covered in canola fields on the one side, and endless wine orchards on the other. Oh, and travel tip – don’t miss stopping by Evita se Perron and the Darling Brewery along the way.
Where to stay in Paternoster
For its size, Paternoster surprisingly has a lot of accommodation options. There are a handful of luxury boutique hotels, but for the most part, visitors opt for the cute self-catering cottages.
During peak season, Paternoster is packed with tourists and accommodation fills up quickly. Expect higher prices on weekends and national holidays too. While the weather might not be as pleasant during the off-season, lower rates are the norm.
Here are some excellent accommodation options for your visit to Paternoster:
- Luxe: Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel offers sweeping views of the bay, and 5-star, eco-friendly accommodation. The restaurant serves authentic West Coast cuisine with a creative twist. Fun activities, such as kite surfing and horse riding, can also be arranged at reception.
- Affordable Luxe: The Paternoster Dunes Boutique Guest House lies among the dunes and overlooks the ocean. All of the rooms feature ocean views, while some even have private beach access!
- Mid-range: De Linden Boutique Guest House features a sun terrace and beautiful ocean vistas. The rooms are elegant, and each room has a flat-screen TV and en suite or open-plan bathroom.
- Budget: With an outdoor pool and views of the village, Smugglers’ Cottage is a great budget-friendly option in Paternoster. Both the beach and the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve are a short stroll away.
Paternoster Accommodation Pro Tips
If you are staying in a self-catering cottage, you should know that there is only one store in Paternoster where you can buy groceries. The Paternoster XPress is open daily and closes at 7 pm on weekdays and 4 pm on Sundays.
Alternatively, head to nearby Vredenburg or better yet stock up at the West Coast Mall along the way, before heading to Paternoster. There is a Woolworths, Checkers, Pick ‘n Pay, and a Food Lover’s Market where you can buy your favorite foods.
Where to eat in Paternoster
Paternoster is home to some of the best restaurants on the West Coast. Although there are only a handful of restaurants, expect great food to be on the menu! Seafood lovers, especially crayfish enthusiasts, will not be disappointed when dining in Paternoster either. Prices are a bit steep here, so if you are traveling on a tight budget, it’s a good idea to plan accordingly.
Also note that during the off-peak season, some restaurants might close earlier while it’s advisable to reserve a table at your favorite Paternoster restaurant during peak season. Below are a few of our favorite restaurants in Paternoster.
The Noisy Oyster
The Noisy Oyster is one of the best restaurants in Paternoster, if not the best! With its relaxed and quirky interior, the Noisy Oyster is renowned for its laidback vibe and tantalizing menu. There is not much seating available within the restaurant, but with its beautiful garden seating area, it’s the perfect spot to unwind on a hot summer’s day. On colder days, you’ll find that outdoor heating creates a cozy atmosphere. Take a peek at their menu on Facebook here.
Voorstrand Restaurant is another famous restaurant in Paternoster and a huge must on your list of things to do. It’s also the only place in Paternoster that does not abide by the apparent building theme of white-washed houses, making this red-roofed restaurant super easy to spot from afar.
As with most other restaurants in Paternoster expect to find an array of mouth-watering options from the ocean on the menu. However, what sets Voorstrand Restaurant apart from others in the village is that it is located right on the beach – perfect for taking a stroll after you’ve filled your belly with a delicious meal. I highly recommend ordering the seafood platter. It is mind-blowingly good, and one plate is more than enough for two people.
Oep Ve Koep
If you have a sweet tooth, stopping by Oep Ve Koep is a huge must. Here you can enjoy melt-in-the-mouth classics such as lemon meringue, layer cake, and apple crumble. A set-course menu is also available on some days, so be sure not to miss this on your trip.
It’s not easy to miss Benguela Blue on your visit to Paternoster. The restaurant sits next to At Botha’s studio and offers terrific ocean views with a tantalizing seafood menu dishing up favorites such as fish and chips.
You might come across other blogs recommending Die Gaaitjie and The Hungry Monk. Both offer killer ocean views, lovely interiors, and tempting menus, but be ready for the steep prices. Expect to pay R35 for a soda and nearly R500 for crayfish at The Hungry Monk while mains start at R145 per plate at Die Gaaitjie.
So, have you visited Paternoster yet? Feel free to share your top tips, best things to do, and anything in between with fellow travelers planning a trip to Paternoster, South Africa, in the comments below!
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