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Sun, sea, sand...and crayfish
Oh the West Coast. Think of fishermen and fishing boats, hardy fynbos growing on whites dunes, and of bokkoms bouquets drying in the wind. Paternoster, one of the oldest villages in the West Coast area encapsulates this sun-beaten dream perfectly.
All the buildings have the same white-washed facade. Amidst this sea of white, there are flashes of colour; like the bright yellow shutters of the town’s library, or the engine red of Die Winkel op Paternoster’s front door. Or even, the lacquered shine of the toffee apples we see many children munching on in the sun.
There isn’t too much going on here, but that’s the point isn’t it? Aside from long, unspoilt beaches, it’s the restaurants that pull in the crowds. Something of a gourmet hotspot, this seaside village has at least five incredible restaurants.
Before we explore the town (which is really just the main road), we head to one of these eateries for lunch. At Oep ve Koep, Kobus van der Merwe creates innovative takes on classic Weskus cuisine, no sniff of a rollmop here.
After a boundary-pushing and delicious lunch, we head to the notorious Panty Bar (+27 (0)22 752 2703 /773). We find it hidden in the Paternoster Hotel—a popular spot to watch sport. The ceiling is covered, literally, in women’s panties. There are G-strings, granny panties, silky drawers, you name it. We order brandy and cokes (when in Rome) and enjoy the, er, view.
Glasses drained we wander about the hotel, there’s a free-standing art gallery with oils for sale, and The Jewel Shell Shop, is as kitsch as crackers; here you can by seashell owls and conches galore.
Managing to resist the urge to shell out any money for a seaside souvenir, we head out back into the salty sunshine, and walk towards Paternoster se Padstal (+27 (0)82 298-0917). You can’t miss it. Draped with green fishing nets, and decorated with big orange life buoys and rusted maritime antiques; you’ll find pickled chilli mussels, bokkoms, jams, and even T-shirts in its briny depths.
Across the road is the Stone Fish Studio (+27 83 441 3655). The beautiful dry-stone building is a working ceramic sculpture studio, and houses originals by artists such as, Hennie Meyer, Theo Paul Vorster, and Judy Woodbourne.
But we’re running out of time, so instead, we jump into the car and drive the five minutes to the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve.
Home to infamous bay, Tietiesbaai, here you can rough it at The Beach Camp, which has kayaking and surfing facilities.
The reserve has the last manned lighthouse in South Africa; it was built on Castle Rock in 1936. We drive past its red beacon and into the scrubby veld. Local delicacy, dune spinach grows wild, and the numerous coves, inlets and bays brim with life.
We drive back into town, along the coast to the main beach. And it’s here that, when the going’s good, you’ll find fishermen at the gutting stations with fresh fish and crayfish to sell, at very affordable prices.
One the way out local kids line the streets with wire hearts threaded with shells. And I’m very tempted to buy, even a small piece of this paradise.
By Malu Lambert
Feel like saying hello to Paternoster too? It's only a 90 minute drive from Cape Town. We’ve compiled a selection of places to stay, from 0-star to 5-star, including the romantic and quirky Abalone House. And, check out our Facebook album of the trip.