Western Cape, South Africa

© Roger de la Harpe
View from Waenhuiskrans towards Arniston.
Arniston is a popular seaside resort in the Overberg region of South Africa. It is situated near Cape Agulhas, the place where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet.

Visitors to this picturesque town in the Western Cape will find beautiful white beaches and a wide range of activities, from snorkelling over sandboarding in the dunes to mountain biking or healthy walks in the fresh sea breeze.

Archaeological interested guests, nature lovers and bird watchers will find the perfect spot for relaxation and exploration with the De Hoop Marine Reserve. The Overberg region also boasts a National Monument: Kassiesbaai with its whitewashed cottages.

For deserted pearly white beaches and perfect seascapes, Arniston in the Overberg region of the Western Cape is a delight for city dwellers who want total relaxation and peace. Just a two hour drive from Cape Town, this old fishing village is set amongst endless unspoilt dunes. For at least 200 years the local fisherman have been quietly casting their lines at sunrise and bringing in the catch of the day. Many visitors stand on the shores to see them off and later dine on the freshly caught seafood.

This town in Western Cape is a place of rest and rejuvenation, no nightclubs or stressful city living, just fresh sea air, long walks, healthy activities on land and sea and at the end of the day a delicious meal and friendly hospitality. This town in the Overberg region actually has 2 names; Arniston in memory of the 372 people drowned on the HMS Arniston transport ship wrecked in 1815 on the treacherous coast.

The original name is Waenhuiskrans, which means wagon house cliff, derived from the enormous tidal cavern which is big enough to fit 6 ox and wagon teams inside. Not much is known about the original inhabitants of the area prior to the arrival of European settlers. It is likely they were Khoisan people who were essentially Strandlopers or beachcombers, sadly contact with the settlers brought disease to their kind. Bientangs cave near Hermanus is the resting place of the last surviving female.

Today, Arniston is a popular seaside escape and the perfect holiday spot in the Western Cape region of South Africa. Visitors come to watch the whales in season usually between April and January with top viewing times in September and October. The Overberg coast or Whale coast has endless beaches and secluded coves. At the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. This region in the Western Cape offers rolling countryside with patchwork colours, fynbos, rugged mountains, rich farmlands and always a warm welcome to excellent accommodation and a variety of places to eat. All visitors are welcome; there is something for everyone from pubs to cafes and luxury restaurants.

Fishing is a popular past time from the shore and on boats. Artistic people often spend time here to find peace and inspiration. At this town in Western Cape, visitors can enjoy snorkelling in clear rock pools and scuba diving to explore the many ocean wrecks. Mountain biking and beach rambles to investigate the multitude of coastal caves will certainly work up an appetite. A trip to Kassiesbaai is recommended to see the delightful collection of original whitewashed cottages; the entire village is now a National Monument.

The De Hoop Marine Reserve covers an area of 23 000 hectares and stretches for 3 nautical miles off the coast; it contains a major wetland for aquatic birds, including the rare African Black Oystercatcher, and many marine fish species. The reserve has important archaeological sites, several historical buildings and the De Hoop homestead complex is a national monument.

Day trips that can be enjoyed while staying in Arniston, a town in Western Cape, include visits to places of interest like:
  • Struisbaai
  • Bredasdorp
  • Agulhas
  • Swellendam
  • Napier
  • Elim
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