The coastal town of Plettenberg Bay is situated in South Africa’s Western Cape Province. Named ‘Bahia Formosa’ – ‘beautiful bay’ – by an early Portuguese navigator, it is one of our favourite stops along the Garden Route! At a road distance of 600 kilometres from Cape Town, and 210 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, ‘Plett’, as it is now known affectionately to locals, is also accessible by air from Johannesburg and the Mother City. This beautiful bay certainly offers a gorgeous range of attractions, and some first-rate properties too!
The history of Plett is fascinating, beginning in the Middle and Later Stone Age and continuing through the colonial period to reach modern times. The caves of Nelson Bay and Matjies River, in the neighbouring resort town of Keurboomstrand, contain a number of Stone Age ornaments, tools, and even food debris – excavations of the caves are ongoing today!
Plett’s colonial period launches with famous Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, who was among the first to charter the bay. Navigator and cartographer Manuel de Perestrelo came up with ‘Bahia Formosa’ in 1577. The Portuguese were also the first inhabitants of the area, albeit for just nine months in 1630 following a shipwreck. However, from 1763 Europeans began to settle in the Bay – these people were predominantly farmers, hunters, and frontiersmen from other parts of the Western Cape.
Another significant date is 1776, when Plett became home to barracks for the Dutch East India Company. A timber shed for the company was built just over a decade later. And in 1779 the Bay acquired its present name of Plettenberg, from Baron Joachim van Plettenberg, Governor of the Cape at that time. By the 1830s, Plett had become an important stopping point for ships sailing between Europe and the Far East during the winter months.
Moving into the modern period, Plett’s first hotel, The Beacon Isle, was built in 1940 on the site of a whaling station that had – thankfully – proved unsuccessful in its aim to export whale oil. In 1972, the hotel was replaced with a resort. From 1960 to 1990 the area experienced something of a boom in holiday property, particularly along its Robberg Beach, which was termed ‘Millionaire’s Row’. Today there is no shortage of accommodation, and we recommend a number of guesthouses, hotels, and beach lodges in our property pages. Please take a look and contact us to start planning your holiday!
Among Plett’s attractions are, of course, its beautiful beaches, white sands stretching for some 20 kilometres alongside the sparkling Indian Ocean – in fact, many reckon these are the best beaches in South Africa! As well as simply splashing about and soaking up the sun, you can enjoy surfing, skimboarding, and bodyboarding – or you can head below the waves. In the deeper waters, a treasure trove of marine life awaits, including whales, sharks, seals, dolphins, stingrays, and a vast variety of fish species. We guarantee you will never tire of exploring!
Wildlife lovers can also check out the Robberg Peninsula and its long nature reserve. Here you will find a large colony of fur seal, in addition to a wealth of marine species. The birding in the area is also impressive, and other activities available include walking, hiking, and kayaking. If this sounds good to you, you might like to visit Keurbooms Nature Reserve too, which is located just 5 kilometres out of town. Monkeyland and Birds of Eden are further options for morning or afternoon excursions. Birds of Eden is the biggest single-dome free-flight aviary in the world!
Inland, the town itself is pretty special, featuring more than enough bars, cafés, and restaurants to entice you during your stay. And with a busy calendar of events in place all year round, you can guarantee there will be something of interest whenever you visit! Music festivals, golf tournaments, country fairs, horse shows… there’s never a dull moment in Plett.
If you would like further information about this beautiful bay, just get in touch with a member of our team!