JUL 19, 2022 | Article originally published here and written by Crystal Espin.
The Western Cape has no shortage of pretty coastal towns, but I’m quite partial to Paternoster. One of the oldest fishing villages in South Africa, the charming coastal town is known for its white-washed fisherman’s cottages overlooking the sea, and for its dramatic beach — considered by many to be one of the most beautiful on the West Coast. With fresh seafood on tap, affordable dining options, and unbeatable views, Paternoster offers a winning formula for a relaxing getaway by the sea. The picturesque village has a rustic, yet sophisticated charm and beckons visitors to stay awhile and revel in its stunning shoreline while enjoying the hospitality of friendly locals.
While just a mere 160km north of Cape Town, Paternoster feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of its much older coastal sister. Perhaps the best thing about Paternoster is that the town is all about perfecting the art of doing nothing. The ideal place for quiet contemplation long walks, and even longer lunches; a visit to Paternoster is a celebration of slow living.
If you really want to experience the magic of Paternoster, then staying at a beachfront property is a no-brainer. No one does beachfront luxury better than Gonana Guesthouse. Located on the Bekbaai beach alongside a greenbelt, the beach house opens up onto the dunes with unbeatable views and access to the beach below. Proximity to the ocean doesn’t get any better than this; Gonana is about as close as you can get to the Atlantic Ocean without being on a boat. This is especially important if you want to leave your bedroom windows open and have the gentle sounds of the waves lapping against the shore lull you to sleep.
Owned by Swedish entrepreneur and interior designer Jonas Sandström, Gonana is a masterclass at fusing luxe-minimalism with elements of Scandinavian design. With this minimalist approach to cosy and comfortable, the rooms and communal spaces at Gonana create a serene space for a quiet getaway.
The guesthouse has just eight en-suite guest rooms, giving it an intimate atmosphere as if you were staying at a friend’s beach house. Six of the rooms downstairs have private terraces, three of which lead directly to the beach. One of the rooms, The Studio is designed as a small apartment with an upstairs bedroom with a balcony (with a partial sea view), a lounge area, a small kitchenette and a bathroom downstairs which can be rented as a self-catering option.
Upstairs, the beach house offers a three-sleeper ‘triple’ room with its own private balcony, as well as a shared communal lounge and dining area for guests to enjoy. The lounge features cosy seating areas comfortable leather couches, books, magazines, complimentary tea and coffee as well as an ‘honesty bar’ stocked with all sorts of snacks and drinks to enjoy while you’re unwinding. A Scandinavian-style breakfast is served every morning at the communal long table overlooking the beach. Breakfast is indeed a special occasion with freshly-baked muffins and bread on offer as well as cold and hot breakfast options served with freshly squeezed juice.
Perhaps the best spot at Gonana is the communal balcony. Leading out from the shared lounge and dining area, the elevated wooden deck stretches across the front of the house to offer incredible views of the beach below. Built-in wooden benches cosied up with plush cushions offer the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine or a cup of coffee at sunset and sunrise. The ideal spot for quiet contemplation, you’ll be able to spend hours soaking up the sea air at this prized spot on the Gonana property.
The other highlights? The guest house’s impeccable staff and incredible service from the moment you arrive. Gonana’s impressive hospitality ensures you don’t have to lift a finger during your stay. The bed in my suite was also incredibly comfortable and I woke each morning to the sounds of the waves outside my door. What’s more, I was so impressed with the privacy of the terrace leading off my room; the rooms are situated and constructed in such a way so that while enjoying time outdoors, you cannot see or hear any other guests on adjacent balconies or terraces — giving you total privacy.
A Cape Country Routes member, Gonana Guesthhouse, is also Paternoster’s first sustainable and environmentally conscious guest house. Effectively off the grid and completely environmentally ethical, Gonana is the place to be during loadshedding. Water is recycled, power is solar generated, plastic usage is minimal, the gardens are indigenous and water-wise, and with the ethos of ‘buy local, think global,’ the décor is all-natural and locally sourced. Gonana also offers WiFi and nighttime security, to ensure guests are as comfortable as possible.
Stay at Gonana Guest House
This winter, Gonana is offering guests an incredible ‘book 3 nights and only pay for 2‘ special. The special offer is valid for stays until 15 August 2022. Guests can book midweek stays from R999 per room (only pay R1,998 in total) and weekends from R1,350 per room (only pay R2 700 in total). Each room sleeps two people and includes daily Afro-Scandi breakfast, complimentary tea, coffee and fruit, as well as complimentary WiFi. For reservations email email@example.com.
Paternoster may offer the perfect excuse to do nothing, but, if you’re looking for something to do between all the relaxing, there’s still plenty for active types to enjoy. With the sea at your disposal, visitors can snorkel, kayak, dive, or even enjoy sea-side hikes and cycling excursions. There’s plenty to explore on the coastline, including South Africa’s last manually controlled lighthouse (apparently a rare sight anywhere in the world), at nearby Cape Columbine.
While summer is, of course, the best time to visit if you’re a water baby, Paternoster is also a bargain in winter, with the months of May and June offering plenty of sunny winter days that are ideal for exploring all that the town has to offer. In fact, many locals and those in the know will tell you that the quiet months of May and June are the best time to visit, as you don’t have to contend with crowds and a busy beach.
Explore the coast on an eBike
If you have a sense of adventure, then you go can’t go wrong with booking a guided tour with Wow eBikes Paternoster. The adventure tour company offers two eBike tour options; a 1.5 hour Cape Columbine experience exploring the magnificent Cape Columbine Nature Reserve as well as a 1.5 hour Beach Ride Tour on the breathtakingly beautiful Paternoster beach. In low-season there’s also the opportunity to include various add-ons during or after your tour. Think a moreish beach picnic or fresh West coast oysters and champagne. Visit the Wow eBikes website for more information and to pre-book a tour online or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. South African citizen rates are also available.
The eBikes tours are a great way to explore Paternoster’s unspoilt coastline and offer plenty of scenic photo opportunities along the way. Even better news is, the eBikes are packed with vooma, so you don’t have to be too fit to participate in the activity as the bikes do most of the work for you. Peddling is a breeze, leaving you plenty of energy to marvel at the scenery.
The Cape Columbine Tour is ideal for adventurous types who want a bit more of a challenge and takes you through the nature reserve past the famous Tietiesbaai and Sea Shack beach camp. If it’s a super easy-going tour you want, then the Beach Ride Tour is for you. The endless, straight beach allows for an ultra-comfortable, easy ride and the opportunity to really put your eBike to the test and pick up a bit of speed.
Sight ‘sea’ on a kayak
Another incredible way to explore the scenic Paternoster coastline is onboard a double kayak. Book a 1-hour tour with Kayak Paternoster and join guide, Danie on a guided tour around the bay on a sunflower yellow kayak. The tour is a great opportunity to spot dolphins, seals, penguins and other sea life and experience the beauty of the ocean first-hand. The tours are weather dependant and all safety gear and paddles are supplied for adventurers.
The tours can accommodate beginners and more experienced paddlers, so if you’ve never been on a kayak before there’s no need to worry, you’ll pick it up pretty quickly. Depending on the weather, the ocean is generally pretty calm and flat once you’ve passed the shoreline and breaker zone of the waves, making it a rather peaceful outdoor excursion even for those with a moderate fitness level. Be sure to pack a swimming costume and board shorts for this activity, and perhaps a waterproof bag for your phone as well if you would like to snap a few pictures.
Kayak Paternoster offers multiple tours throughout the day, but if you really want to experience the serenity of the ocean, I suggest booking an early morning trip with Danie for a refreshing start to your day. Contact Danie on 083 795 4198 or email email@example.com to book your trip and enquire about tour times.
Paternoster is a foodie paradise with plenty of restaurants to choose from to suit almost any budget. Gonana Guest House is ideally located for visiting local hotspots, with most restaurants and activities just a short walk away. From the modest Blikkie’s Pizzeria to the charming beachfront eatery, Gaaitjie, to the famous fine-dining spot, Wolfgat; a world of good food awaits you in Paternoster.
Sample South African wine
Wine lovers will adore the newly opened wine bar. Paternoster Wine & Tasting Lounge is a first-of-its-kind wine bar on the West Coast. The chic wine bar offers wine lovers a selection of South Africa’s best wines for purchase and for tasting. Pop in and buy a few bottles of wine to enjoy during your stay in Paternoster, or stay a while to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy a glass of wine or three. Wine can be ordered by glass or bottle, and the lounge also offers a variety of wine tasting options for those who would like to experience an entire range from one particular winery or learn a little more about their favourite varietal.
With over 200 wines on its shelves at any given time, the owner-run wine lounge is indeed a place of discovery for wine lovers. The lounge features four producers per season to experience in tastings and per glass. Red and white wines available by the glass are R65 per glass, while tastings start from R150 per tasting with 5 or 6 wines on offer (depending on the tasting selected).
If you’re looking for something to nibble on while you sip, then do yourself a favour and order a Charcuterie & Cheese Platter. The platters are generous and include a selection of meats, cheese, bread, fruit, nuts and preserves at R120 for a small platter, R250 for a medium, and R350 for a large. Meat-free and dairy-free platter options are also available upon request.
Getting to Paternoster from Cape Town is an easy 2-hour in-land drive. Our party of six cruised up the West Coast via Darling in a 7-seater Ford Everest Sport. The perfect car for a road trip with friends and family, the Ford Everest Sport is based on the popular Everest XLT model. With a sporty look and luxurious interior finishes, there’s no better car for a coastal road trip than the Everest Sport. It’s surprisingly nippy considering its large size and it’s easy to forget you’re driving a large 7-seater family-sized SUV. Read our full review of the Ford Everest Sport here.
If you love to make the journey to your destination part of your holiday then a quick stop in Darling for lunch on your way to Paternoster is a must. The world-famous, Evita Se Perron offers a quirky option for a watering hole en route. With delicious pies and traditional Afrikaans desserts on offer, as well as a must-see museum, it’s a worthwhile detour. While you’re there, don’t forget to pop into the Darling Sweet shop for a truly delicious shopping experience.
For more winter getaway ideas in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape visit the Cape Country Routes website. From places to stay to must-try activities, the site is chockful of great local travel ideas.