When I think of Mossel Bay, I recall History classes in primary school of Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, the first European known to set foot on South African soil. These days, when I think of the harbour town, it reminds me that it’s the halfway point on the Garden Route between Cape Town and Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).
After purchasing a home and renovations underway, finances were limited. I fortunately won a prize of two nights at any Southern Sun Hotel in the country so my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) opted for a drive to Mossel Bay. He’s never been and my last visit was at the age of 10 camping with family. We were in no rush and took in the beautiful scenery of the N2 enjoying lunch at the Houw Hoek Inn Farmstall.
We arrived early in the evening and for our first night stayed with family friends. The next day we went exploring and for antique lovers, it’s a goldmine and we regretted not driving with Colin’s bakkie as we were ready to shop to furnish our home. The roads are clean, people friendly and we easily navigated ourselves to the tourist spots starting with the Bartolomeu Dias Maritime Museum.
The Museum houses the country’s first Post Office Tree and there is a replica of Dias’ ship where an additional fee allows you to board. The various exhibits range from maritime life, the history of the town and its residents, fauna and flora to equipment and products used decades ago.
We found our way to the Good Shed flea market which forms part of the Mossel Bay Art and Craft Route. It was built in 1902 with historical sandstone architecture. Crafters were selling their products ranging from clothing to household items and we bought a fire lighter and matches holder with an interesting figurine of an old man which now proudly hangs by our fireplace.
Lunch was at the popular Sea Gypsy Cafe, which is similar to Cape Town’s Kalky’s with delicious fresh seafood straight from the boats located next to the restaurant. The owner encourages you to write your message on either the wall or benches to record your visit.
Next we headed to the harbour and boarded the Romonzo boat for a trip to seal island. Though there was a crisp breeze in the air, the sunlight made our one hour boat trip enjoyable. We ventured to the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse Complex and walked off our lunch journeying about the flight of steps and wandering around this magnificent structure. The view is stunning and is a photographer’s paradise with panoramic views of the ocean and fauna like dassies. We popped into the Blasters Family Entertainment Centre which has an arcade, restaurant and we played miniature golf in the dark.
After an eventful day we checked into the Garden Court located in Mossel Street. Although our timing was unfortunate in that the hotel was busy with pool construction and we had to change rooms to escape the noise, our room was luxurious. The hotel is home to the Garden Route Casino, the Hibiscus Restaurant and the Bravo Lounge where we were treated to contestants belting out their favourite tunes in Karaoke Idols. After a buffet breakfast, we continued exploring and headed to Santos Beach.
We were able to tour the nearby camping site which boasted chalets and is a mere three minutes from the town centre. Lunch was at a restaurant located on the beach and later we drove to the Point and discovered a caravan park in this bustling seaside location. Our friends joined us for supper with the waves crashing in the background. After our third night and still plenty to see, we extended our stay and our gracious hosts from our first evening offered their home. And what a great decision when along with our hosts and their tenant, we pub hopped at the various watering holes on a Friday to experience the Mossel Bay nightlife.
We finally departed on Saturday but not before purchasing lamb at one of the local butchers which has quality meat at affordable prices. It was our contribution at a friend’s get together that evening and we shared our mini holiday highlights. Hopefully it would have inspired them to visit Mossel Bay not as a pit stop, but as a destination of choice as we certainly can’t wait to return.
Which areas do you enjoy exploring? Is Mossel Bay on your next adventure list? Do you have any interesting stories to share? Let us know in the comment section below.