Situated along the Garden Route, Mossel Bay is one of the most popular seaside destinations in South Africa. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie seeking adventure, or in need of a peaceful getaway, Mossel Bay offers a wide range of activities and accommodation to cater to varying needs.
The neighbouring towns are a mere stone’s throw away, making Mossel Bay the perfect choice for a road trip stay, and marks the official start of the Garden Route, covering 300 kilometres along its southern coastline. Mossel Bay is a melting pot of cultures given its rich Portuguese history combined with indigenous southern African cultures and its colonial history.
This history is clear in its food variety and the way of life of the locals and those fortunate enough to set foot on its beaches. Below is a list of exciting activities you can partake in and things to do in Mossel Bay to get a feel of the local culture.
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13 Things to do in Mossel Bay
1. Hike the St. Blaze trail
The trail spans a doable 14 kilometres along the coastline and can be started from either direction, giving you the choice to start from the Cape St Blaize cave situated below the lighthouse, or from Dana Bay. There is no entry fee that needs to be paid, however, all hikers are to sign in at the Golf Estate checkpoint when asked as the trail passes through private land.
This six-hour trail is enjoyable as a day-trip for families as dogs are allowed on the trail (provided they are kept on a leash) and there are picnic stops along the way. At peak times whales can be observed bobbing their tails out of the ocean.
2. Visit the St. Blaize Lighthouse
At the start of the hiking trail lies the Victorian-style lighthouse still in use today. Because of the dangerous curve of the peninsula, a lighthouse had to be built in 1864 to guide ships away from high rocks. The lighthouse is automated and has 24-hour security. The lighthouse can be visited between 10:00 and 15:00 on weekdays.
3. Visit the Point of Human Origins Cave
Shoot two birds with one stone by visiting the cave which is situated on St. Blaize trail, before embarking on your hike. The cave is internationally renowned for its archaeology hosting evidence supporting modern human behaviours. Dr Peter Nilssen provides a two to four-hour guided tour of the cave available by appointment and tours must be booked directly on the website or via phone call. Visit www.humanorigin.co.za to book your spot.
4. Shark cave diving
Leave your fears behind and go shark cage diving! White Shark Africa is renowned for its cage diving services and also conducts research into shark life and practices conservation of sharks. Book an appointment, sign in, enjoy a cup of coffee before undergoing a briefing by crew members and heading off to the waiting boat.
Groups of six are allowed per cage at once where the sharks are then baited and the cage lowered into the water so as to ensure good close-up views. Bring your own underwater camera gear or have the entire experience videotaped by the crew for a small fee. Visit www.whitesharkafrica.com for bookings and more information.
5. Visit the Maritime Museum
A gift from the Portuguese government to South Africa, the caravel replica of the vessel that brought Bartolomeu Dias to Mossel Bay can be seen at this Museum. It is also home to historical maps used by early navigators.
6. Play Golf
The Pinnacle Point Golf Course was designed by the likes of pro golfer Darren Clarke and spans four kilometres along the Mossel Bay coastline. Enjoy a 360-degree view from the on-site restaurant while digging into well-priced cuisine.
7. Roll Dice at the Garden Route Casino
Situated just off the golf course, the Garden Route Casino offers all-day gaming including 400+ new edition slot machines. Not exclusive to over 18s, an arcade is available for youngsters, and there are childcare facilities on-site. Enjoy a meal at the Admiral’s Buffet or have a quick cuppa at the Red Cherry Coffee Shop.
8. Explore the Various Beaches
On some days the best thing to do is to merely soak up the sunlight. The Point is the central promenade linking all the beaches where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll or swim in the natural tidal pool just off the walkway. Neighbouring beaches include Santos beach, Diaz beach and Eiland Beach.
9. Enjoy a Cuppa at The Merchant Coffee
The Merchant is Mossel Bay’s prime coffee spot for coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs all the same. This café combines art and coffee, selling locally produced art while producing delectable blends of coffees. The creative setting is perfect for a productive atmosphere and is conducive to a working environment.
10. Go Surfing
Being a seaside town, it goes without saying that water sports should be on your itinerary. Learn 2 Surf is a surf school with a branch in Mossel Bay which offers services for new and seasoned surfers. Private or group lessons can be booked in advance and the fees include equipment. Diaz Beach is a popular surfing location where daily beginner training takes place just off-shore. Bookings can be made on www.learn2surf.co.za.
11. Go on a Game Drive
Situated before the Outeniqua mountains just outside Mossel Bay, Botlierskop Private Game Reserve offers three-hour guided game drives providing a close-up experience with South Africa’s Big 5 including rhinos, lions and buffalo, as well as more than 200 bird species and various other wildlife.
This Reserve has an on-site restaurant and an open-air swimming pool for guests to relax after a day of animal watching. Enjoy this safari as a day trip or book an overnight stay in luxury tents or lodge accommodation. For more information and to make a reservation book here: https://www.botlierskop.co.za/.
12. Visit an Ostrich Farm
Safari Ostrich Show Farm is situated between Mossel Bay and the Ostrich capital of the world – Oudtshoorn, home to the Kenyan Red and Zimbabwe Blue Ostrich breeds. Fun for the whole family, the Farm offers guided tours where you will learn about the history of these big birds, enjoy a fun tractor ride and hand-feed ostriches. Be sure to pay a visit to the renowned Betsie, a friendly female ostrich who is open to receiving your affection. Farm tours operate daily and tours start every 20 minutes, so bookings are not essential. Safari Ostrich Show Farm has an on-site restaurant and wine house, as well as a store. Visit this site for more details: http://safariostrich.co.za/.
13. Enjoy a Gin Tasting
Inverroche Distillery and Gin School offer gin tasting and insights into the production of gin. Visitors are able to craft personalised bottles of gin and sample artisanal gins whilst learning about the local flora, of which a small garden has been started on-site to enhance the gin-making experience. A full educational experience, gin pairing and canapes comes at a meagre charge, and a simple stand-alone tasting goes for even less. For bookings and more information see firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since Mossel Bay is located along a popular road trip route with wonderful ocean scenery, the best way to enjoy Mossel Bay would be by car. All airports offer car rental services regardless of which direction you travel from and any car make will do since all roads are tarred. The great thing about South African weather is that the Garden Route can be enjoyed all throughout the year thanks to the mostly warm climate. Preferable months for travel range from mid-August when spring kicks in until mid-March when summer ends.
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Where to stay in Mossel Bay
Last but not least: accommodation. Banking on the tranquil seaside feel, Mossel Bay is home to some of the most luxurious accommodations available. It is recommended to book early to avoid disappointment and sky-high prices. A personal recommendation is the Protea Hotel by Marriott.
Built in 1846, the Protea Hotel is one of the oldest double-storey buildings in Mossel Bay, donning Mediterranean-style archaeological features, symbolic of its Portuguese influence. Magnificent ocean views can be observed from the balconies of private room and suites, the breakfast patio, the Café Gannet Seafood Restaurant and the off-pool cocktail bar. Café Gannet is renowned not only for its buffet breakfasts and food diversity from tapas to traditional South African meals but the novelty Inverroche Distillery.
Amenities include free high-speed internet access, a fitness centre, a pool, and ample off-site parking space. On-site parking is available at a small charge. A large conference room with business facilities, as well as separate meeting rooms caters to business needs. Other service offerings include car rental, foreign exchange services, daily housekeeping, and a safe deposit box for added security. Room service is just a button away. However, the hotel’s smoke-free policy may nip your habit in the bud if you are a smoker.
Rooms are equipped with air conditioning, complimentary bottled water, a coffee-making space, a bar fridge, foam and down feather pillows, a safe, satellite television, and a fully equipped kitchenette. Bathroom amenities include a separate bathtub and shower, a bathrobe, and a hairdryer. A crib pen is available for those travelling with toddlers.
The hotel offers alternative access for disabled persons and only service animals are permitted. The hotel is accessible on all major passing routes and a half an hour drive from the closest airport. With all this, as well as tons of restaurants and attractions just minutes away, many at walking distance, it is no secret why the Protea Hotel in Mossel Bay has secured a 4.5-star rating and a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor.
Overall, the Protea Hotel and its extensive service offerings are a symbol of opulence and splendour. If you enjoy falling asleep to the whispers of the ocean, this is the perfect holiday accommodation for you.
Mossel Bay, like the rest of the Garden Route, is renowned for its several camping sites and hostels. Mile Crunchers Backpackers, a short-stay hostel, is a popular choice among solo travellers on a tight budget. With basic amenities such as free internet access, a laundry service, a bar area and a communal kitchen and television amenities, this is the perfect stay for travellers who do not mind sharing. A sense of community is created in the form of social barbecues and shared use of the entertainment centre including playing a few rounds of darts with strangers who become new friends.
Mossel Bay is ideal bliss for ocean lovers and those in need of either relaxation or adventure … or both! The proximity of Mossel Bay to its quaint neighbours allows for easy town-hopping as new adventures await only short distances away. Anyone travelling along the Garden Route must be sure not to miss out on this gem of a town.