The West Coast is the gem of the Cape coastline. Blessed with sleepy seaside villages, incredible vast stretches of beach, fynbos and fields and home to some incredible bird- and animal-life… the West Coast is pure magic. It is well-suited to starry-eyed travellers, families, outdoor enthusiasts or tourists.
But one of the standouts in the West Coast is undoubtedly SANPark’s West Coast National Park. It was established in 1985, with a mind to conserve the Mediterranean muse: Langebaan Lagoon and its surrounds.
And over time, the Park has become an increasingly popular, family-friendly destination.
Pure Magic: 10 Reasons to Visit West Coast National Park
As it lies only an hour (two max) away from Cape Town, it makes for the ideal day trip or weekend getaway. It has two entrances: a turnoff along the R27 or an entrance via Langebaan’s Park Street, so it is easily accessible too.
The Park is vast, with many kilometres stretching luxuriously between one attraction to the next.
Home to rich flora and fauna, historic landmarks, spring wild flowers and sandy, sun-kissed beaches overlooking the water, the West Coast National is one of South Africa’s most special parks.
What’s more, it is also one of the most family-friendly national parks and even offers clean, scenic braai- and picnic-spots and viewpoints for all to enjoy!
So, without further ado, here are 10 great reasons to visit the West Coast National Park:
1) Wildlife Abounds in Postberg Nature Reserve and the West Coast National Park
The West Coast National Park is home to an abundance of wildlife.
Blessed with many bird species, ostriches, Eland, Kudu, Red Hartebees, Bontebok, Cape Mountain Zebra, Gemsbok, Lesser Flamingo, Bat-earred Foxes and an abundance of tortoises (there are even special road signs telling you to drive slowly for them!)… It is a paradise for wildlife lovers.
No matter whether you wish to see the tortoises crossing the road, buck and zebra grazing among the fynbos and flowers or go birdwatching at the dedicated bird hides near Geelbek Restaurant.
And during Whale Season, you may even see some whales!
I particularly enjoy seeing the tortoises, Bontebok and ostriches, all of which I am especially fond of.
Two bits of advice on the wildlife front:
1) Please drive slowly and carefully… Otherwise you risk senselessly scaring or harming the wildlife and birds. Stick to the speed limit (a max of 50 km p/h) and slow down for the animals.
2) Be wary of snakes, especially during the spring- and summer-seasons. They are especially hard to spot among the fynbos and flowers so keep your eyes to the ground and if you see any, leave them well alone.
If you treat the animals with the respect and space they deserve, they are a wonder to see in their wild habitat and most are not yet afraid of humans… Let’s keep it like that if we can.
Finding Flowers in Postberg Nature Reserve
Once a year, the surprisingly spacious Postberg Nature Reserve (which otherwise falls under private property) opens to the public.
From August to September, this generous goodwill act allows park visitors to enjoy a spring show. As during Spring’s unique Cape wild flower season, seas of blue, pink, cheery yellow and white veld- and fynbos-flowers appear.
The veld (field) and landscape transform into a splash of colour, thanks entirely to the variety of flowers that transform every available space… They even sprout up between a rock and a hard place!
Growing up on Cape farms, I became familiar with almost every type of Cape flower (just don’t test me on all the names and species!). And, in my time, I have seen some special spring blooms.
But the Cape West Coast and Namaqualand are in a different league. If you love flowers or simply pure, unaltered nature, this one’s for you.
Postberg itself is divided into two main sections: Uitkyk and Plankiesbaai. Best of all, both are incredible to explore.
Note: Before you enter Postberg, you will need to present your pay slip to the rangers. This is because flower season incurs higher entry fees. So just be sure to keep it handy.
2) Flower- and Game-Spotting at Plankiesbaai, Postberg
For me, Plankiesbaai is hands-down the flower-finding favourite area in Postberg.
Because, although we saw a few flowers in Uitkyk, there is no question as to where the main flower fields and paths are found.
Plus, Plankiesbaai overlooks the Atlantic – which, with the ocean as your backdrop, makes for mighty fine flower viewing.
There are dedicated paths and tracks, which you can either walk or drive along. As such, I implore you not to be the person who carelessly tramples through the veld or flowers just so they can pose or ‘lie’ in a bed of flowers for Instagram.
Think about conserving our nature before you decide to ignore the signs and heedlessly fumble over the flowers…
And if you stick to the paths and roads, you still get incredible photos. We certainly did! So I won’t make excuses for those who veer off and break the rules. It’s totally unneeded and inexcusable.
As a bonus, Plankiesbaai – like Uitkyk – has its own dedicated picnic areas and toilet facilities. And because it overlooks the sea, you can park and immediately enjoy its quieter beach.
Admittedly, it was busy when we visited, being both a scorcher of a day and at the height of flower season. But even so, there was plenty of available beach for picnics or sunbathing by the sea.
Plankiesbaai is a truly magical spot. I felt so privileged to be able to climb the hill, eagerly following the flowers.
3) Picnicking and Boulder Hopping at Uitkyk, Postberg
Postberg’s Uitkyk section is just as pretty as Plankiesbaai – just for different reasons. Here, fynbos hills and rolling views steal the show. I also loved the giant boulders that you can climb up among.
We saw a few flowers here too, which was a nice start to our flower viewing.
Because you can kind of loop back from Uitkyk to Plankiesbaai, I would start here first if you wish to see both areas.
Uitkyk overlooks Langebaan and offers stunning, sweeping views of the regions below. It also has its own picnic- (with bins and benches) and toilet-facilities. It definitely seems the place of choice for picnics but personally, I wasn’t charmed by it for this.
The bathrooms, if a little rustic, are surprisingly clean. I am notoriously against public bathrooms – especially out in ‘nature’ – but these were fine and definitely clean enough to use. Perhaps because they are only used once a year.
That is one thing I marvelled at, though: how well-maintained all of the West Coast National Park’s facilities and recreational spots are… It is definitely refreshing and impressive to see.
Well done to the management and staff for maintaining such a well-oiled machine!
Note: No alcohol is permitted at any of the public braai- or picnic-spots. This includes Uitkyk, Plankiesbaai and the Langebaan Lagoon too.
4) Braaiing at Tsaarsbank or Preekstoel
Tsaarsbank – overlooking the nippy Atlantic and a stone’s throw from Postberg – offers incredible sea-facing braai spots. Additionally, you can also enjoy some interesting rock pools here, perfect for little ones to play in.
Another attraction near Tsaarsbank is the beach hike to sight the Pantelis A. Lemos vessel, which was shipwrecked there in 1978.
This deserted beach allows you to really escape the crowds and it is one of the remote beaches I’ve encountered.
Although it was a tiring hike over heavy, wet strand when we tackled it two years ago, it made for a good adventure… Even if we never saw the shipwreck (which is meant to be seen at the end of the 1.8 km hike).
But, when it comes to braaiing – perhaps the braai spots at Preekstoel are even better. These overlook the lagoon and allow you to braai up a storm and swim, as you please.
Expect to get there very early in the warmer months to snag a good spot but it is definitely worth it for the settings and views each offers.
Pack in your braai gear, gazebo/umbrella and chairs – because nou gaan ons braai (loose translation: now we’re gonna braai).
Just some notes on the Preekstoel braai facilities:
1) These are for braais only; no camping or picnicking is allowed here. (If you wish to picnic, choose one of the dedicated view spots or picnic areas.)
2) Don’t place fatty grids on the outside seating area.
3) Don’t hog the braai spots; be courteous and thoughtful… When you are done, please give others a turn too.
5) Swimming and Beach Fun at Preekstoel and Kraalbaai
The Langebaan Lagoon is divided into three recreational zones:
– Zone A, which is multi-functional and suitable for water sports, including water skiing, SUP-ping, kite surfing, kayaking and more.
– Zone B is for boating but is reserved to sailboats and board sailing. (No power boats or angling.)
– And finally, Zone C, which is a wilderness area that is closed to the public.
Within that, you find the gorgeous Preekstoel Beach and Kraalbaai. These glorious Mediterranean-style havens offer safe swimming (parts of the lagoon are so shallow they barely graze your ankles), picnicking and fun in the sun.
With Preekstoel interrupted only by the fascinating granite boulders and cliffs that make it so unique, you can enjoy true beach perfection.
The beaches fill up quickly in good weather so it is best to come very early if you wish to secure a good spot. There is really no shade to speak of so bring sun umbrellas with. Remember, you will also need to pack in a picnic lunch or padkos because the closest shops are Langebaan or Yzerfontein.
Previously, during winter, we enjoyed having Preekstoel Beach almost to ourselves but not so when we visited on a Spring scorcher… Due to this, we ended up further along Kraalbaai (past the jetty) but it was no less lovely.
Although the water is colder that side, we still managed to enjoy a very shallow, rather cold swim, which, on the day, was certainly refreshing. And it was lovely to watch the houseboats off in the distance, in front of our stretch of beach.
The whole Kraalbaai and Preekstoel vicinity is hugely family-friendly and we saw plenty of young families with very small kiddies enjoying the lagoon. There is ample room for them to swim, splash and build sandcastles.
6) Rent a Houseboat and Float on the Lagoon
Kraalbaai is also famously home to some resident, luxury houseboats, which visitors can rent out and enjoy an extended stay in the Park.
They certainly look dreamy, floating there on the Lagoon and I always feel quite envious of their guests whenever I spot the familiar houseboats.
To enquire after or book out the houseboats, please see more info here.
7) Stay Overnight in the Park Cottages
Another accommodation offering are the Park’s adorable, largely whitewashed cottages and Duinepos chalets. These self-catering offerings can also be rented out if you wish to linger longer and explore the Park to the max.
The cottages – Abrahamskraal, Jo-Anne Beach, Jo-Anne’s B, Van Breda, Steytler, Duinepos chalets and Geelbek Stables (for school and community groups) respectively – are a wonderful part of the Park and make for lovely, affordably priced accommodation.
For more info on each option or to book, please see here.
8) Soak up the Scenery at Seeberg and Atlantic Viewpoints
While the Seeberg Viewpoint is touted as having the best vistas in the entire Park, I have sadly never been there.
The Atlantic Viewpoint, some distance before Kraalbaai, is one I have visited though.
Here, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Atlantic and a relatively private place to picnic or lunch. There are shaded picnic benches here so this is where we ate.
It’s a really pretty place and definitely a great spot for posing for family or group photos.
Best of all? On a clear day, you can see Table Mountain from here. 🙂
Note: There are unfortunately no rubbish bins here so keep your rubbish with you until you find one elsewhere.
9) Coffee and Sweets at Geelbek Restaurant
Housed within a beautifully restored old Cape Dutch Building, this national monument is worth a visit for its antiquated beauty alone.
It’s a magnificent building and makes for a unique restaurant setting.
The restaurant receives mixed reviews on its service but when we visited the Park previously, we had coffee and dessert here and I found the meal and service pleasant enough.
While you are there, you can also check out Geelbek Visitors Centre to learn more about the flora, fauna, accommodation, hiking and history of this special park.
The restaurant is also situated nearby to two of the Park’s bird hides and a VOC Beacon, dating back to the 1700s.
10) Hike to Your Heart’s Content
And finally, for those who like to walk or hike like me, the Park offers hiking routes, walking trails and cycling/MTB routes.
The hiking trails include: Strandveld Trail (two-day hike); the Bakoor Trail (4.6km walk to Seeberg Viewpoint); Postberg Hiking Trail (two-day hike) and Eve’s Trail (a 2.5 day, 30km guided, portered and catered hike; book online for this).
Then for the cycling/MTB fanatics, there are four routes available, varying in distances from 13 – 70km.
For additional information on the hikes and trails, please contact the West Coast National Park.
The West Coast National Park is a truly unique place outside Cape Town and definitely a national treasure to enjoy throughout the year.
I really hope that you get to enjoy this West Coast wonder too!
For more information on the West Coast National Park, please contact: +27 (022) 772 2144 or visit www.sanparks.org.
– September to March: 07:00 am – 19:00 pm. (Last vehicle entry at 18:30 pm.)
– April to August: 07:00 am – 18:00 pm. (Last vehicle entry at 17:30 pm.)
– Postberg (only open during August and September annually): 09:00 am – 17:00 pm. (Last vehicle entry at 16:30 pm.)
You can also follow and connect with the West Coast National Park on the following social media channels: Facebook and Twitter.
About the author
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.