Pringle Bay: Cape Town's best-kept secret

by karenwebber

An hour's drive from Cape Town, the seaside town of Pringle Bay feels like another country. If good food, a great hotel, beaches, wildlife and the fragrant fynbos of South Africa appeal, read on

It's not hard to head off the beaten track in Cape Town and discover something precious quite unexpectedly. One area that may be overlooked is Pringle Bay, a gem of a place about an hour's drive from the Mother City. Part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Nature Reserve, it is a small, seaside Overberg village. If you take the scenic route of Clarence Drive out of Gordon's Bay, the turn-off for Pringle Bay follows just after the village of Rooi Els.

Locals will tell you it is always windy at the small beach; but forget that. It's true that wind-free days are rare, but that doesn't mean the beach can't be enjoyed. You can easily find a bit of shelter by the rocks and laze in the sun, but cooling off in False Bay might take your breath away even during the hottest part of the summer. The beach is popular with local dog owners, while parents often bring young kids to splash in the river mouth and water sports enthusiasts and divers take to the ocean.

Pringle Bay is also great for walkers. As it is part of a nature reserve, you can explore the area and take a closer look at the fynbos vegetation. There are thousands of plant species growing in the area, which is one of only five floral kingdoms in the world.

If you want to get away from it all, slow down the clock and enjoy South Africa's natural beauty up close and personal, a visit to Pringle Bay is a must.

Where to stay

The perfect place to stay in Pringle Bay is a guesthouse called Moonstruck on Pringle Bay. This four-star graded accommodation is luxurious, cosy and great value for money. New arrivals are given not just a warm and friendly welcome, but helpful instructions on how to avoid baboons entering their room! The honeymoon suite – with its huge four-poster bed, comfy chairs and large balcony with a day bed – is tastefully decorated and a cool haven during a hot African summer.

The smell of fynbos wafts in with the sea breeze, and the view is nothing short of spectacular: the ocean 100 yards away and those beautiful Overberg mountains that take on every purple hue imaginable as the sun sets. Other nice touches include an honesty bar and an infinity pool.

Breakfasts here are to die for. Fruit salad is served at the table (complete with a card outlining the day's weather forecast and tidal information), while the buffet selection includes yoghurt, bread, pastries and muesli. Then you are asked what you would like for your cooked breakfast, which is prepared to order. Suffice it to say, this meal would keep you going for most of the day.

Where to eat and drink

While there are only a handful of restaurants to choose from in Pringle Bay, the small town is a haven for foodies from the surrounding area.

The Italian restaurant Bella Donna (+27 28 273 8413), on Hangklip Road, offers huge portions: the bruscetta, mussels and any of the pizzas come highly recommended. They willl even fix you up a doggy bag if you order more than you can eat (just make sure you hide it away from the sight of baboons when you get back to your room).

Another excellent restaurant is @365 (+27 28 273 8931) on Central Road. Try the seafood curry or the ostrich. At both restaurants, the atmosphere is laidback yet efficient: servers are friendly, the food is sumptuous and the gorgeous wine just keeps on coming.

Continue on to the Hangklip Hotel (+27 28 273 8310) – the best watering hole in the area. Three bars – a central one, Plankies pub and the bush pub, which has a barbecue area – offer more than enough choice. Don't worry about driving back on the dirt road after sinking a few cold ones, as you can stay the night at this legendary spot for just over £10. Be sure to book ahead at weekends.

What to see and do

Go for a walk in the nearby Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens (+27 28 272 9311) on Clarence Drive, or visit the jackass penguin colony at Stony Point (much quieter than Boulders Beach). This is an excellent place to try to spot whales: Southern Right and Humpback whales pass through local waters from May to November.