For those of you who don’t know it, let me tell you this: Gordon’s Bay – a gem in the Helderberg Region – is one of the best areas for wanderlust-craving locals and foreigners alike. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the richest travel regions we have enjoyed since visiting the Cederberg in late 2017.
Long weekend vibes in Gordon’s Bay
Following hot on the heels of a trip to Franschhoek, in late April, we packed the overnight bags and headed off for a well-deserved, two-night stay in Gordon’s Bay – the perfect way to celebrate an extended long weekend in South Africa.
Not only does Gordon’s Bay offer some stunning, unblemished natural coastline and mountain scenery, an amazing drive in the world-famous Clarence Drive and the beautiful Kogelberg Nature Reserve, all within easy driving distance – but it is also blessed with an abundance of foodie gems, coastal villages and beautiful beaches…
Keeping all this in mind, here are some of the memorable experiences I recommend when travelling to Gordon’s Bay:
1. Gordon’s Bay travel: Road trip from Franschhoek Pass
The Franschhoek Pass has fast cemented itself as a firm favourite of mine – three or so drives along it later and I am well and truly in love with its elegant curves, heart-in-mouth bends – and above all, its impeccable mountain and flora views.
If you’re looking for a good route to take to Gordon’s Bay, then I recommend travelling via the Franschhoek Pass; it’s scenic, oddly classy and perfect for a relaxing drive.
Journeying past Theewaterskloof Dam (sadly low at the time of visiting), you’ll edge regions like Grabouw and eventually, crest Sir Lowry’s Pass. From here, Gordon’s Bay, and Strand beyond, stretch out before you in all their finery…
The sea and city views from up on high are stunning, so try find a picnic spot to make a quick stop and soak up the views without the distractions of town life and traffic to disturb you!
2. Enjoy country quiet at peaceful Pakya
For the weekend, home became Pakya – The Little Olive Farm. Hidden away in a peaceful, rural valley below Sir Lowry’s Pass, Pakya is a little slice of paradise.
Owned and run by hostess Marianne Parker, this is a beautiful little accommodation offering. Pakya provides a taste of farm life, yet still places you within easy driving distance to Gordon’s Bay. (You do drive along a stretch of gravel road to get to it, but it is fine for a normal car.)
The two-night stay was booked through Afristay. It was my first time booking through them but it was such an effortless process, so I can easily recommend it.
How to book:
Basically, how it works is, you choose an area/region on their site and sift through their countless options… Best of all, there’s something to meet everyone’s budget and getaway dreams!
Find your place, submit/request a booking (which your host will either approve or decline, based on availability etc.) and then you can opt to either pay the host in full – or pay through Afristay, who sort out the payment for you before you even arrive at your destination.
Everything went off without a hitch, as within moments the booking was confirmed, and the host got in touch with me.
For this stay, I chose Pakya and it was a wonderful experience. Suitable for two people sharing, it offered a small but cosy and tastefully done out granny flat, situated alongside Marianne’s beautiful home.
This self-catering cottage (priced from R730 per night) came with all the amenities (including a queen-sized bed, bar fridge and microwave) necessary for a self-catering stay or weekend away.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here and found Pakya to be very refreshing. From a booking and experience perspective, I rate Afristay and their offering – Pakya – The Little Olive Farm – as an 8.5/10.
To book your stay at Pakya – The Little Olive Farm, please visit the Afristay site.
Please note: While my stay was the result of an accommodation voucher, which came about after I did a collaborative post with Afristay – we paid the difference ourselves and this particular review is in no way affiliated with them.
As such, all views regarding Pakya and the experience of booking through Afristay are my own and completely honest.
3. Drive along the world-famous Clarence Drive
Oh, Clarence Drive, you beauty… This amazing drive possesses sweeping ocean views, staggering cliffs and perfect curves, meaning it is yet another of the Cape’s finest scenic drives.
Ever since I first experienced it in 2015, I have been a loyal fan.
To me, Chapman’s Peak Drive is incredible but honestly, there isn’t much between Clarence and Chappies in terms of beauty and memorable driving experiences. (Barring the engineering mastery that Chappies offers, of course.)
And Clarence Drive, unlike Chappies, is entirely free for travellers, couples and road tripping families alike to enjoy.
Clarence Drive – which, in essence, connects the Helderberg Region with the Overberg region – is blessed with stunning views, interesting sights, stopover points and some of the best scenery the Western Cape has to offer.
When in (and around) Gordon’s Bay, Clarence Drive is a must… Go experience it for yourself!
4. Visit the penguins at Stony Point Nature Reserve
Okay, confession time: I have a thing for places with penguins. (Here’s looking at you, Boulders Beach…)
So imagine my delight when I learned that Betty’s Bay – one of the many adorable coastal towns near Gordon’s Bay – has its own protected penguin nature reserve!
Stony Point Nature Reserve – home to one of the largest successful breeding African penguin colonies in the world – is a really fun attraction in Betty’s Bay.
You pay a very minimal entry fee (R20 per adult and R10 per child at the time of visiting) to enjoy seeing these adorable, tuxedo-donning dudes swimming in the ocean, cuddling in their nests and simply, enjoying life in a protected, secure nature environment…
There are good boardwalks, like at Boulders, so it is wheel-chair friendly too. You will also discover a few viewing spots and benches.
Although we didn’t see loads of penguins on the day, our accommodation host, Marianne, insists she has seen large numbers of penguins gathered here before.
What I really enjoyed, though, was that there were far fewer crowds than at Boulders, so you can take your time with pictures or admiring these little feathered friends… For Stony Point Nature Reserve, it’s a 9/10 rating.
Stony Point Nature Reserve is open from 08:00 am – 16:30 pm. Final permits are issued at 16:00 and gates close promptly at 16:30 pm.
For more information, please contact Stony Point on: +27 (028) 272 9829 or visit www.capenature.co.za
5. Chase waterfalls at Harold Porter National Botanical Garden
The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden is a must-visit for anyone exploring the start of the Overberg Region. Situated in the coastal fynbos heartland, where sea and fynbos meet, this gorgeous garden echoes of Kirstenbosch… but, in many ways, I enjoyed it more.
Rich in nature flora and history, Harold Porter is a treat in many respects. It’s great fun for new visitors, hikers, families with young children and adventure-loving couples. Truthfully, there are ample outdoor spaces for young and old to appreciate.
In addition to its garden ‘pockets’, this botanical gem offers perfect picnic spots, nature walks or hikes and the Red Disa Restaurant (good but a little pricey).
During our visit, we opted to hike, which saw us chasing waterfalls, amber pools and semi-secret routes, as we explored this beautiful garden.
Hiking in Harold Porter
First up, it was the Disa Kloof Trail… This makes for an easy walk, even suitable for young children or the elderly. The mostly shaded terrain takes you past the Disa River, before, some 950 m from the main entrance, you eventually find the flowing waterfall.
As you go, there are a number of great viewing points – and it is a thoroughly enjoyable and effortless walk overall.
After weaving through the garden and enjoying the waterfall, we decided to tackle the Fynbos and Zigzag Trails. Both are incredibly rewarding in terms of beauty, as proteas, fynbos and koppies follow your every step.
But the Zigzag Trail, which requires some more careful footing as you climb higher, is the real treat… As we climbed upward, we were blessed with incredible views of Betty’s Bay, the surrounding natural vegetation and the stunning garden below.
There are well-placed benches (even close to the top), perfect for a little sightseeing and moment’s rest. And, if you carry on for long enough over the mountain, you can climb down into the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.
The garden has a small entry fee and, while you will need to pay extra for a Leopard’s Kloof Trail permit, the other trails are free to enjoy.
Overall, I loved Harold Porter National Botanical Garden and rate it 9/10.
For more information on Harold Porter National Botanical Garden, please contact: +27 (028) 272 9311 or visit www.sanbi.org.
Harold Porter National Botanical Garden is open Monday to Friday, 08:00 am – 16:30 pm and on weekends and public holidays from 08:00 am – 17:00 pm.
Entry fees are R25 (adults, 18-59 years), R15 (seniors (60+ years) and students with valid cards), R10 (learners) and free to children under 6 or for SA Botanical Society members (except during special events).
6.Breakfast at The Garden Kitchen, Mountain Streams Nursery
Gordon’s Bay is like any (coastal) town in that, if you look well enough, it offers excellent hidden gems… The Garden Kitchen – and Mountain Streams Nursery – caught my eye, situated alongside the main road, which, during our stay, we used to travel in and out of Gordon’s Bay.
On the morning of our final day in GB, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast here. The setting was beautiful and homely, and you have the option of sitting indoors or outside among the plants and flowers for sale.
The nursery itself is well-stocked and interesting to explore but it is The Garden Kitchen at Mountain Streams Nursery that turned out to be a great bet.
For breakfast, I ordered delicious Flapjacks, with maple syrup and cream for R40, as well as a Single Shot Cappucino (with cream) for R27. (Yeah, I had a cream thing going that day) Overall, both choices were excellent.
Service was pleasant and unobtrusive, distinctly like laid-back country hospitality, which I love.
So, if you’re in the area, be sure to check out the Mountain Streams Nursery and this charming coffee shop!
For more information, please contact The Garden Kitchen on: (021) 856 4951.
Mountain Streams Nursery is open during weekdays from 08:00 am – 17:00 pm and on weekends/public holidays from 09:00 am – 16:00 pm.
You can find this delightful garden centre along Sir Lowry’s Pass Road, Gordon’s Bay, Western Cape.
7. Explore Kogelberg Nature Reserve
During our time in Gordon’s Bay, we also spent most of that Sunday exploring the gorgeous Kogelberg Nature Reserve.
I can’t possibly leave it off this list – so I have covered it in a separate review; it’s just too much information to cram into this post… So if you’re keen to read more about Kogelberg and its many natural wonders, you can do so here!
What I can say though is that it was an incredible experience, rich in amazing outdoor adventure and beautiful Overberg scenery… Kogelberg is, on so many levels, wonderful.
These photos are just a taste of some of the amazing nature we encountered on our hike…
Please note: Before visiting Kogelberg Nature Reserve, check Cape Nature’s site for the hiking permit costs and which route(s) you can do because this is a cash-only facility. (If you don’t have cash, you can always head into Kleinmond to draw some there.)
8. Enjoy a romantic dinner at Zest Restaurant
Both Gordon’s Bay and Strand are littered with a host of eateries and fast-food joints, so it’s difficult to decide where to eat. However, fortune smiled on us as a drive along Beach Road revealed this Mediterranean-style bistro.
For dinner, we both tried the Beef Burger, which was topped with mozzarella, fig puree and chorizo, and accompanied by potato wedges.
This was one of the best, most filling burgers I have had! Dinner was prepared quickly and service was attentive throughout our enjoyable meal.
Overall, the family-owned, street-side Zest offers a tasteful, almost old-fashioned restaurant setting… It’s romantic and laid-back and perfect for enjoying the sunset.
If you are visiting Gordon’s Bay, you cannot afford to miss trying Zest!
Zest Restaurant is open from Monday to Friday, 12:00 pm – 22:00 pm and on weekends from 09:00 am to 22:00 pm.
For more information on Zest Restaurant, please contact: (021) 200 2605 or visit their website.
You can find Zest Restaurant at 75 Beach Road, Gordons Bay, Western Cape.
To sum it all up…
These are just some of the amazing things one can enjoy near Gordon’s Bay… Tempted?
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – Travel Writing and Photography, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. Despite having a national diploma in Journalism and working as a content writer by day, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.