Top 6 things to see and do in Betty’s Bay
Tucked between mountain and sea, Betty’s Bay is located in the UNESCO protected Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. There are no streetlights here and only the main roads are tarred which allows for a slower pace and the chance to see not only amazing flowers in the unspoilt fynbos landscape, but also animals in their natural habitat right on your doorstep or garden.
With many pristine beaches, various hikes and walks and untold nooks and crannies to explore, many interesting days can be spent outdoors in Betty’s Bay. Here is our top 6 things to see and do while you’re in town:
1) Visit the local penguins
The Stony Point Nature Reserve is home to over 2000 breeding pairs of endangered African penguins. There is a small entrance fee (R29 per person in 2019) payable at the gate which is a small price to pay for an up-close encounter with these unique birds who will happily pose for a photo. Apart from penguins you will see a few different species of cormorant including the endangered Crowned cormorant as well as ‘dassies’ (Rock Hyrax) and if the sun is out you will see crag lizards and blue headed rock agama’s right next to the wooden boardwalk as they lazily bake in the sun.
2) Take a walk to Leopard’s Gorge
If an easy hike involving climbing ladders past waterfalls in the crevice of a mountain sounds like fun you need to visit the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden. Make sure to tell them at the entry point that you plan to walk to Leopard’s Gorge as you will need a key to enter the walk which is only reached after walking a few hundred meters into the garden itself. It is not a strenuous walk but things can get slippery where you cross the stream as you enter the bottom of the gorge and get steep at times, especially as you climb up 3 series of wooden ladders on your way to the top. On you adventure you will see an indigenous forest landscape with orchids, mosses and ferns lining the path past pitch black fresh water pools.
3) Go sandboarding at Blesberg
One of the highest natural sand dunes in Africa, the Blesberg dune behind Silversands beach is a whopping 250 m high and offers a potential run of over 400 meters of pure ‘sand surfing’. The dune can be accessed from Delport Road in Betty’s Bay but is located on private property. As with many activities in small rural towns a pre-booking is not possible as the experience is not advertised anywhere and there is no number to call. The custom is to knock on the door at the house at the foot of the dune and to ask permission to use the dune for which you will be charged about R20 per person. Sand boards can be hired from the local café, Centre Shop on Clarence Drive.
4) Enjoy uncrowded surf spots
Main Beach consistently delivers great surfing. In summer the beach slopes gently into the sea towards the Stony Point side often providing great opportunities with gentle left or right breakers depending on the direction of the swell, but it is in winter when surf is really up in Betty’s Bay. The winter storms from the North West pounds onto the beach causing the beach to become steeper as the sand shifts in the weather creating some spectacular breakers not for the faint of heart. The best part of it is the fact that there is usually hardly anyone on the beach, let alone competition for the waves.
5) Say hello to the Southern Right Whales
Betty’s Bay is situated on the Cape Whale Coast – a region renowned for offering the best land based whale watching in the world. With many lookout spots over the ocean, it is easy to see the giants roaming the southern seas with Brydes, Humpback, and even Orca whales visiting the local bays, but it is during the months of June to the middle of December that hundreds of Southern Right whales visit the Cape coast and daily sightings are almost guaranteed. It is during this time that the Southern Right whales come close to our shores to mate and have their young.
6) Enjoy amazing stargazing
It is fascinating how dark it gets in Betty’s Bay at night. There are no street lights and Cape Town’s lights are only a distant glow on the horizon. Unless the moon is full, you can hardly see your hand in front of your face when you stand outside at night and the stars are so bright it feels like they are right on top of you. Once you get over the sheer brilliance of the Milky Way as it stretches over the sky like some space highway you will easily spot the diamonds in the southern sky: Orion’s belt usually somewhere towards the north, the Jewel Box which is visible with a pair of binoculars and the 3 brightest stars in the sky which are only visible in the southern hemisphere: Sirius, Canopus and Alpha Centauri. The Southern Cross is permanently etched into the sky as its constant presence reminds you of the lines of the famous song Crosby, Stills and Nash song: ‘When you see the Southern Cross for the first time, You understand now why you came this way’.