South Africa, specifically its coastline, feels like the end of the world. It’s where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans collide. Only a handful of windswept islands stand between it and Antarctica. That makes the African country a great place to practice social distancing.
So you’re spending a lot of time on the Western Cape. South Africa’s southernmost province is where Cape Town is located. It’s also home to the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route. The latter, which extends from Witsand to Storms River, is what recently caught your attention. Plettenberg Bay to be exact.
Plettenberg Bay was first called Bahia Formosa (Beautiful Bay) by Portuguese explorers. They weren’t wrong. This is where rocky peninsulas and white-sand beaches run into crystal-blue water and white-capped waves. A large colony of Cape fur seals lounge among distinctive, flower-shaped shells. Fish eagles, Knysna loeries, and endangered African oystercatchers patrol the Keurbooms River. Seagulls created a large breeding colony. Southern right whales do the same in the water, which Bryde’s and humpback whales use as a migration route. While bottlenose dolphins simply call it their playground. No wonder Plett has become a popular resort town.
A resort town doesn’t have to mean big, all-inclusive hotels. Consider this a city escape. In the 1960s, people from Johannesburg started flocking to the coast every December for both Christmas and the height of summer. Plett became one of their favorite spots. Second homes are now angled for perfect ocean views. A few hotels, including the Plettenberg, are, too.
A hotel has stood near Whale Tail Lookout Point for years. It wasn’t always a luxurious escape. A whitewashed manor house was first built here in 1860. It had uninterrupted views of Plettenberg Bay, the Tsitsikamma Mountains, and the Keurbooms Lagoon. The house became a hotel, and, eventually, a neglected one. It wasn’t upgraded until 1996. That’s when the Blue Wing, two pools, and extensive terraces were added. A modern seafood restaurant, a sleek bar, a natural spa, and a chic boutique were, as well. The Plettenberg is now the place to stay along the Garden Route.
You’ll be met with iced rooibos tea and warm towels upon your arrival. You’ll initially overlook the beachy decor—rattan furniture, white cushions, accents in every shade of blue—due to the view through the floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s truly spectacular. Freshly cut flowers await you in your sea view room. Again, you’re distracted by what’s beyond the French doors.
You move between the infinity pool and the terraces for the rest of the day. A glass of Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc and a Garden Route salad, high tea, a Mermaid’s Dream martini, and a Western Cape sparkling rosé and locally caught seafood are all served outside. You never have to take your eyes off the endless ocean or worry that you’re too close to other people at the end of the world.