Scuba Diving and Snorkeling in Plett

OffshoreAdventures

“There is nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realise that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean.” Dave Barry

Plettenberg Bay is probably best known for kilometres of pristine beaches, whale and dolphin watching and sublime summery days. We are fortunate to host 4 International Blue Flag beaches, hold the title of International Hope Spot and border the magnificent Tsitsikamma Marine Protected Area, the oldest MPA in Africa.

If you are a scuba diving enthusiast, then this stretch of coastline is not to be missed as it offers a unique look at the South African coastline and the vast differences between the Cape South Coast and the Northern, more tropical, coastline. While Cape Town has kelp forests and Durban has tropical fish – the Southern Cape coast is a dramatic mix of vibrant soft corals, anemones and sponges and offers divers, and in particular macro photographers, an endless canvas of colourful reef to explore.

Photo: Pro Dive Plett

Photo: Pro Dive Plett

While the fish generally aren’t tropical and the water temperatures may be on the colder side of 20°C, the positives far outweigh the negatives with common sightings of Ragged-Tooth sharks, endemic shysharks, large schools of fish and nudibranchs covering reefs with delightfully dramatic topography.

The shallower reefs off the Beacon Island can be reached by shore entry and they, especially in summer, act as a nursery to all sorts of juveniles including Red Roman, Blacktail and Butterfly fish. Rays are common sightings on the sandy patches between reefs and lucky divers may even encounter a school of passing dolphins.

Photo: Pro Dive Plett

Photo: Pro Dive Plett

The deeper reefs are accessed by boat and feature the more interesting topography of the area including walls, pinnacles and drop-offs. Sharks and pelagic fish are common and the reefs offer a fireworks display of colour in sponges, fans and anemones – a treasure trove of soft coral waiting to be discovered.

If you aren’t a scuba diver, you can still enjoy the underwater world of Plettenberg Bay including a snorkeling excursion off the Beacon Island to the shallower Red Bait Reef. For an unforgettable marine experience, hop on a seal swimming boat to the Robberg Peninsula where you can snorkel surrounded by hundreds of playful Cape Fur Seals in the shallows off the peninsula.

autumn-special

Seals Plett

Photo: Offshore Adventures

TIPS:

  • While the water is generally warmer in the summer months, scuba divers will be delighted to know that the winter conditions are highly recommended with calm, clear conditions.
  • 5mm wetsuits and booties are recommended throughout the year
  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling visit: www.prodive.co.za
  • Swim with Seals visit: www.offshoreadventures.co.za

See the Fynbos in Plett

Plett-Proteas

“Earth laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Plett-Proteas

A huge floral attraction of South Africa’s Southern Cape coast is our endemic Fynbos. Fynbos, from the Dutch fynbosch, directly translated as “fine bush” is actually a shrubland found only along a small coastal belt of the Southern Cape coast from the Cape to Port Elizabeth.

This puts Plettenberg Bay in the heart of Fynbos country. Known for its exceptional biodioversity – some 8500 species, nearly 6000 of which are endemic – the Cape Floral Kingdom is the smallest and most diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms.

Hikers, birdwatchers and walkers along the many trails around Plettenberg Bay will be amazed to find the majestic King Protea growing wild next to the trail. The King Protea might be the largest in the family, but it is by no means the only Protea on this coastline, blooming at different times of the year and adorning the Fynbos region with a beautiful and unusual flower.

Another very popular export of the Fynbos region is Rooibos, also known as “bush tea”.  Brewed as a tea in South Africa for centuries, Rooibos is now available internationally, but efforts to grow Rooibos outside of our Cape coastal region have reportedly failed.

Photo: Plett Tourism

Photo: Plett Tourism

We’re most excited to tell you about a product, grown in Plett and closely related to Rooibos, that is gaining popularity – Honeybush Tea.  Plettenberg Bay has a Honeybush Tea industry that is just 15 years old (much the same as the Plett Winelands) and it is widely accepted that the area from Tsitsikamma to Riversdale is the ideal place to cultivate honeybush – again putting Plettenberg Bay right in the middle of this area. Honeybush is quite similar to Rooibos, although it is sweeter and the plant gets its name from the honey-scented flowers.

Would you like to try Honeybush and visit a Honeybush Tea farm in Plett? In 2000, local community owned, government sponsored Honeybush farm was opened at the Griqua settlement in Kranshoek. The farm is named Ericaville and 84 families from this community benefit from sale of the crops 95% of which are exported to Europe and Asia.

Ericaville farm tours include a brief history and plant classification including medicinal properties and harvesting. Visitors can harvest by hand, chop the tea by hand and drying and flavouring the tea.

As you can see – Fynbos including Proteas, Rooibos and Honeybush is an essential part of the Plett experience.

Plett Food and Film festival

Reza

It is that time of the year again when Plett goes a little MAD. Plett Tourism and Ikasi Media will be hosting the Plett Food Film Festival from the 9th – 11th July.

This festival takes place during our annual Mad Festival. This year we will see celebs like Reza Mahammad, the “Spice Prince“, who will be our host along with SA’s hot new upcoming actress Lika Berning, the festivals ambassador. Reza the spice prince will be cooking all things spicy for us. Reza will delight us on the final night with an Indian dinner and the movie “The Lunch Box” And of course my very favourite lady, Karen Dudley, from The Kitchen in Cape Town will be back this year. Karen who is so passionate about food and life will entertain us in a BIG Italian way on the opening night with delicious food accompanied by the screening of “Big Night.” Expect a lot more than the “Love Sandwich.”

Meeting Karen Dudley

Meeting Karen Dudley last year

So prepare for a 3 day extravaganza of food and wine prepared by world class chefs. There will be local artisanal cheeses accompanied by award winning wine from Plett Winelands All of this will be accompanied by fine music and awesome drama. All of this takes place during The Plett MAD – the Music, Arts and Drama Festival, which runs from the 25th June to the 18th July and is an event not to be missed. Here we see music, arts and drama – all things MAD!

Come and stay with us at Cornerway House and enjoy the festival and all the other activities that Plett has to offer.

winterspecial

 

Bramon

Bramon

Plett’s very first and most famous wine farm, Bramon, is situated in the Crags. Making it the perfect afternoon treat for any day of the week as it is only a few kilometres from the heart of Plettenberg Bay. The estate began in 2000 and  is run by the Thorpe family and named after Peter and Caroline’s children, Bram and Manon.

With tables nestled among the vineyards and views of the Tsitsikamma Mountain Range, you’ll immediately get a picnic feel.  A menu made up of delectable cheeses, cold meats, patés, delicious organic salads all served with a hearty loaf of fresh homemade bread, and accompanied by the local wines.

Bramon Wine Estate is famous for their exceptional sparkling Sauvignon Blanc “cap classique,” the first to be produced in our country, making our beautiful Plettenberg Bay a Wine of Origin Region. The Methode Cap Classique was initially vinified by Graham Beck Wine’s very own Pieter Ferreira and is now under the care of Anton Smal from Villiera. Bramon is continuously striving at pushing the boundaries in the wine industry. The unique local climate and soil conditions makes this all possible.

Bramon is one of my favourite places to chill and enjoy good food and wine. It is ideally located and the best place to enjoy a relaxed laid back lunch after all the great activities the Crags has on offer.

Spring has Sprung in Plett

wild freesia 5

From the time of our earliest forefathers, we have gazed in awe and wonder at the magic that is conjured by flowers and foliage – the colour and beauty of their shapes, their markings and the intricacies of their form. Plants are miracles of nature providing sustenance for the body and the soul. It is little wonder that we continue to celebrate their existence.”

wild freesia 5

Taking a stroll along Plett’s beaches, it was with great excitement that we stumbled upon the wild freesia growing in the crevices of the Lookout Rocks on Wedge side of Central Beach. How they get to be there is truly a miracle. There is hardly enough space to contain their bulbs. They are mostly pollinated by bees. An excellent sign that spring has sprung in Plett!

Freesia alba are endemic to Southern Africa with over 16 species, they are found growing in sandy or stony soils, alongside dunes or on the edges of forests. They seem to like damp places and grow mainly along the coast from Hermanus to Plettenberg Bay. They are deciduous, so we have beautiful blooms now in spring and then they lie dormant in summer.

Colourful freesia growing in flower box

Colourful freesia growing in flower box

 

Cornerway House Garden

Cornerway House Garden

Spring Special at Cornerway House

Robberg Nature Reserve

This gallery contains 26 photos.

Robberg Nature Reserve  – right here in Plettenberg Bay, in the Garden Route, you can enjoy an amazing hike that is jam packed with a variety of terrains and the most spectacular views of the Garden Route Coastline. While the Robberg Peninsula protects Plettenberg Bay from the full force of … Continue reading

Adventure and Passion at AfriCanyon

This gallery contains 18 photos.

  One of our guests had the opportunity to try out kloofing,  a good local name for canyoning, right here in the  Garden Route, specifically the Crags near Plettenberg Bay. This is his story….. “As everyone knows trying out new things can be a bit daunting. I was pleasantly surprised … Continue reading

Radical Raptors

Spotted Eagle Owl

Radical Raptors is a real treat for those who are interested in birds and even those who aren’t; because you will certainly be left intrigued! Radical Raptors is a must visit- located at the Heath on the N2 about 7km out of Plettenberg Bay towards Knysna .

Adult raptors have few predators and can live up to 20 to 30 years in the wild. Unfortunately because of their slow breeding rate and high mortality (only about ¼ survive their first year), population is reduced. Human impact,  poisoning, illegal trade and hunting, inexperienced hand raising, also contributes to further drops in survival.

At this Birds of Prey Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre – they rescue, rehabilitate and release these magnificent birds of prey. The centre trains the raptors to ensure they are able to hunt and take care of themselves, then releases them as soon as possible. If the birds are non-releasable they are trained and free flown in order for us spectators to experience their amazing abilities in their natural surroundings. You can watch their outstanding flying performances, some will even land on your gloved hand. These birds play a huge role in creating community awareness of the impact of humans on their environment. It definitely stopped me using poison to eradicate mice.

Our beautiful gardens at Cornerway House are often alive with local birds so we really appreciate the work of Radical Raptors towards the survival of indigenous birds in the Plettenberg Bay area.

Radical Raptors, which is run as a non profit organisation, was opened 4 and ½ years ago by Janet and Dennis. They are both passionate about their raptors and educating the public. Every visitor contributes to the excellent work that is done here.

So if you are looking for a special experience with these majestic raptors – a visit to Radical Raptors in Plettenberg Bay is a highly recommended.

Plett welcomes the Whales

Humback Whale Tail

Humback Whale TailEach year with great anticipation we welcome the first appearance of whales in our Plettenberg Bay. They are such welcomed visitors, crossing thousands of miles of ocean to visit our coastline and bask in our warmer Indian Ocean water.

Southern right whales were almost hunted to extinction, because they were the right whales to hunt – hence their name. They visit Plettenberg Bay between June and November to mate and calve; who wouldn’t want spend time in our beautiful bay?  A fully grown Southern right whale can weigh up to 80 tons – almost 12 african elephants and can live up to 50 years. A close encounter is something not to be missed , they are truly massive and magnificent. They are easily identified by their black colour and callosities on the head: “little bonnets”. It is difficult to distinguish their sex but if you happen to see them mating and are fortunate enough to be close, the 4 metre male organ makes identification relatively obvious! 🙂  The female’s gestation period is approx. 12 months and the calf’s birth occurs in the same waters of Plettenberg Bay a year later.

whaleHumpback whales pass our shores on their way to their breeding grounds of Madagascar and Mozambique. They are the most energetic of all the large whales and are well known for their spectacular breaching, lobtailing, flipper slapping and skyhopping. Bryde Whales, smaller and slender are seen all year round, their large upright dorsal fin makes them look like huge dolphins.

So jump at the opportunity to go out with one of our local Whale watching boats and get really close to these mammoth mammels. Boats with permits are allowed to approach whales within 50 metres. Plettenberg Bay has several species of whales, dolphins and marine birds. Along Robberg Nature Reserve Peninsula you can see our large colony of Cape Fur Seals, the peninsula is also a great place for viewing whales.

whales

Whether you prefer the close encounter, on a comfortable boat, an energetic kayak trip, a stroll on one of our beautiful beaches, or rather a bench perched at one of our look-out points with binoculars, take time out to watch the whales. Plettenberg Bay is known as the whale capital of the world!

Land Art 2013 in Plettenberg Bay

Land-Art-Plett

AndreaSPlettenberg Bay was recently privileged to play host to the 2nd Site-Specific International Land Art Biennale as the landscape of Plett was transformed into a canvas for the land artists – our terrific landscapes, stunning ocean and beautiful beaches making it the ideal location for this event. Cornerway House’s Dee contributed to the 2011 event, so we were really looking forward to seeing what the artists produced for 2013.

Plett welcomed South African, international and our local artists and offered our large, protected landscapes as their “blank canvas” and we weren’t disappointed as each artist expressed their creativity using natural materials to create their masterpieces. We saw the greater Bitou communities, like Kurland, Harkerville and Kwanokuthula, come together and learn from great artists. There were a variety of workshops that the public could attend. Andrew van der Merwe”s Beach Calligraphy workshop was so inspiring. The Youth from New Horizon Youth Project wrapped trees in red ,pink, white and green, representing Hiv, Breast Cancer, Domestic Violence and looking after our Environment.

margie ford land artWe started our tour at the Beacon Island car park and were fascinated by the beauty and simplicity of Margie Ford’s and Ken Heyn’s installation “Go with the flow!” Definitely one of my favourites, and it endured the bad weather and went on for days.

A meander up to the Hotel was full of surprises, Diane Victor ‘s Whale Bones laid out majestically on the lawn. A tribute to and reminder of the whales that were once hunted and killed during the days of the old whaling station, the site on which the Beacon Island Hotel is built.

Carol Sach’s installation on the rocks, close to the swimming pool, depicting Whale Tails and their sperm was so creative and blended so well with the surroundings . The big nest precariously perched on the rocks by Anja Wiehl, took us by surprise. Gordon Froud’s series of figures on the rocks , made out of wattle, beach sand and AB glue were sybomlic of the silent protest … we all go through daily.

Back down on Central Beach, the sand art & calligraphy: razor sharp cut outs in the sand were amazing. The child in me came alive and was truly delighted by the huge labrinthes . Sadly the tides did take their toll and these creations were lost. We saw amazing installations on Look Out Beach like the “Sea Urchins” and the “Earth Pods”

Another of my favourites was “Genius Loci” by Andrea Cristoforetti and driftwood man, Roger Trebilcock.

Land-Art-Plett

Those are just some of our favourites of the Land Art Biennale 2013 in Plettenberg Bay. We really enjoyed the show and look forward to welcoming the Land Artists back to Plettenberg Bay soon!

Head over to the Site Specific Pinterest Page for more of the artworks