View of Plettenberg Bay from the Robberg Nature Reserve

From the Beach to the Desert, Part I: Plettenberg Bay

Earlier this month I visited Plettenberg Bay (a.k.a. Plett), one of South Africa’s most popular beach towns, for the first time. Plett is part of the drop-dead gorgeous piece of coastline east of Cape Town called the Garden Route, near the border between the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape provinces.

View of Plettenberg Bay from the Robberg Nature Reserve
Looking down on Plettenberg Bay.

The visit was part of a media trip to Plett and Oudtshoorn, a desert town about an hour from the Garden Route. (More on Oudtshoorn in the next post.)

Sky Villa, Plettenberg Bay

I stayed at the Sky Villa Boutique Hotel, a luxurious property at the top of a steep hill overlooking Plett. Sky Villa used to be a private villa (hence the name) and was converted into a hotel a couple of years ago.

Sky Villa Boutique Hotel in Plett
Sky Villa Boutique Hotel.
Entrance Hall at Sky Villa
The opulent entrance hall at Sky Villa.
Pool at Sky Villa
The pool. It was winter so too cold to swim unfortunately. The hotel also has a rooftop bar with a second pool.
Sea-facing room at Sky Villa
My lovely sea-facing room. I couldn’t get a good photo of the bathroom but it had one of the best showers I’ve ever experienced, with a window looking out at the ocean.
Sunrise in Plettenberg Bay
Sunrise from my balcony.

I really enjoyed the vibe at Sky Villa, which is quirky and luxurious at the same time. The decor is an interesting combination of whimsical and modern, with really beautiful art, and I like that the place doesn’t take itself too seriously despite being high-end. (Room rates start at R2200, or about $144, for a mountain-facing room and run upward to R4950 for the presidential suite.)

Also, I normally don’t care about TVs in hotels but the rooms at Sky Villa have all-you-can-watch Netflix and Showmax. Maybe this is normal in other parts of the world but I had never experienced such a luxury and thought it was amazing.

Sky Villa has a new chef, Rich Rorich, and the food is fantastic.

Tom Yum soup
Rich’s interpretation of Tom Yum soup, with prawns, chicken, pork, and a creamy coconut broth — one of the best things I’ve eaten all year.

Out and About in Plett

As I mentioned, it was winter so laying around the pool or the beach wasn’t in the cards for our group of lady journalists. (Not that winter in Plett is really that cold — just too cold for swimming.) But we certainly enjoyed the outdoors.

On our first afternoon we took a boat cruise up the Keurbooms River with SUP Keurbooms.

Start of the SUP Keurbooms cruise
Ready to board a boat near the mouth of the Keurbooms River.
Keurbooms River
So pretty!

SUP stands for Stand-Up Paddling — basically standing upright on a surfboard and paddling around. It looks really fun but I had never SUPed (SUPped?) before, and it felt a bit too cold to risk falling into the water. So I didn’t SUP, a decision I feel a bit ashamed about in hindsight. But I watched a couple of the others do it.

SUPing in the Keurbooms River
Leigh, who writes for Women’s Health and is hence required to be physically adventurous at all times, decided to SUP. She fell in once but said the water wasn’t as cold as she expected. Anyway, I’m glad she took the plunge for me and I was able to get a nice picture while also staying warm and dry.

Anyway the cruise was great. The scenery was stunning, we drank champagne, and — insert drum roll — we saw a bushpig! I didn’t get a photo as he was moving swiftly through the forest on the riverbank. But bushpigs are exceedingly rare and super cool-looking. No one in our group, including the boat-driver who spotted the pig running along beside us, had ever seen one before.

The next day we went for a 10-kilometer hike through the Robberg Nature Reserve. I had heard great things about this hike but nothing could have prepared me for how beautiful it was.

Heather in the Robberg Nature Reserve
Look at me, I’m a hiker. (Photo: Theresa Gibbon)

The Robberg is a peninsula just south of Plett that sticks straight out into the Indian Ocean. Our hike skirted the peninsula, going up and down cliffs, clambering over boulders, and crossing white, sandy beaches. It was wonderful and exhausting but doable for anyone with a moderate level of fitness. There are a few shorter options for those who don’t want to do the full 10k.

Theresa hiking in Robberg
Hiking the northern side of the peninsula, which is blanketed in fynbos.
Dassies in Robberg
Chubby little dassies (read more about dassies in this post) watch us round the point.
Robberg rocks
It got very windy as we rounded the point.
Robberg trail
Windy and cold but glorious.
Robberg island
I think the was the prettiest part of the hike.
Robberg Beach
We had the whole place to ourselves.
End of the Robberg hike
At this point we were more or less finished.

After the hike we had that wonderful high you get upon completing a strenuous physical challenge in impossibly beautiful natural surroundings and knowing you’re on your way to have a delicious meal and won’t have to feel guilty at all about the massive number of calories you’re about to consume.

We went for lunch at the Bungalow, which is right on the beach in Plett.

The Bungalow in Plettenberg Bay
This looked like it would be a fantastic place to stay, especially if you want a beachfront room.

The Bungalow menu includes sushi, pizza, and all kinds of fun lunch stuff but for some reason I chose to order a plate of chicken nachos. I can’t remember the last time I ordered nachos in a restaurant and I’m not sure what made me do it, but I’m so glad I did.

Maybe my appetite played a role but these were literally the best nachos I’ve ever eaten.

Nachos from the Bungalow in Plett
What made them so good is the fact that the sour cream and guacamole were underneath the top layer of chips. So as soon as I started eating I found heaps of sour cream and guacamole inside. Hard to convey in a photograph but you’ll have to take my word for it.

After lunch we went back to Sky Villa. I took a shower while staring out at the sea and spent the rest of the afternoon in a robe watching shitty Netflix shows like a rockstar.

And that, my friends, was a fabulous two days in Plett.

My hotel stay, meals, and activities in Plett were complimentary — courtesy of Sky Villa, the Bungalow, and SUP Keurbooms. Opinions expressed are mine.

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13 Comments

  • Reply G August 22, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    Great post, (as always), except for one glaring error …”The Robberg is a peninsula just south of Plett that sticks straight out into the Pacific.”

    • Reply 2summers August 22, 2019 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks! What is the glaring error though? Is this an Atlantic/Pacific issue?

    • Reply 2summers August 22, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      Okay now I realize this is the Indian Ocean. Don’t know why my brain was insisting Pacific! Thanks.

  • Reply AutumnAshbough August 23, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    That looks amazing. Was it empty because it was off season?

    • Reply 2summers August 23, 2019 at 10:01 pm

      Yes. Apparently Plett is unpleasantly crowded in December.

  • Reply Jeroen August 24, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Love Robberg! We skipped Plett but headed here to hike around it on a very windy day, only finding respite on that tiny peninsula island with boardwalks across the fynbos. Simply gorgeous.

    • Reply 2summers August 24, 2019 at 1:19 pm

      If I lived there I think I would do that hike once a week.

  • Reply eremophila August 25, 2019 at 5:20 am

    No SUP for me either, even though it’s offered in a place I regularly visit – which has cold water all year round!
    Looks a great place to visit in winter, when crowds are less.

    • Reply 2summers August 25, 2019 at 8:25 am

      Yes apparently it’s horribly crowded in December. I will limit my visits to the off season.

  • Reply Lani August 26, 2019 at 5:13 am

    Absolutely stunning. I loved the tour. I wished I was there! 😛

    • Reply 2summers August 26, 2019 at 6:35 am

      I wish I was still there too.

  • Reply eyelean August 27, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    I loved Plettenberg Bay in August. I was pregnant so must have done a shorter hike than this one but your pictures are bringing back memories! I saw a great white shark down in the water while I was resting my pregnant self on the path.

    • Reply 2summers August 28, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Wow, that’s amazing! We saw lots of seals but no sharks.

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