I am slowed down to a halt by a road worker waving a red flag just a few kilometres from my final destination. It’s in these moments on a dusty road in front of a stop-and-go boom, waiting for the one-directional traffic to pass, that I begin to ponder if this might be how the magic dies for this whitewashed coastal town.
There has always been something mystical about navigating the final dirt roads before entering the fishing village of Paternoster but, with its new-found fame and tarred roads, are its secrets out the bag?
As I putter on through the road works and reach the renowned T-junction where a left takes you through the village of Paternoster and the sights and smells confirm your arrival. However, today is different and I turn right, filtering through some of the newer developments until I reach the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel situated at the far, quiet end of the beach – far enough away from everything to know this is a place for ultimate relaxation.
The largest heated pool in Paternoster flanks my left as I make my way through reception and am greeted by long flowing views which stretch out through the dry river bed, across the deserted beaches and flowing into the gentle blues of the ocean. It’s a stunning place to enjoy welcome drinks and a Mediterranean snack platter as I contemplate the very purpose for my visit: relax, refresh, and recharge.
The Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel offers its guests bicycles to explore and it is not long before I adopt a new steed and ride off along the coast line. There are a couple of gravel roads to explore and the last-manned lighthouse that was built on the South African coast peaks out at the top of Cape Columbine nature reserve which makes for a great turnaround point. It is about a 15km cycle through the fishing village on to undulating gravel roads and is a great way to see what Paternoster has to offer.
A quick swim to freshen up, followed by sunset drinks on the deck and a leisurely dinner at Leeto is a great way to cap off a superb day.
The aromas which flow out of the Leeto kitchen are enough to put doubt in any choice you make, but the West Coast linguine filled with my favourites from the sea really is out of this world and my eyes rest easy as I return to my room for the night.
It is an early start as I make my way down to Crayfish Wharf at 7.30am, ready for an adventure with Kayak Paternoster. Excitement turns to disappointment as a thick mist has filled the bay and for obvious reasons we need to delay our trip. But this is not a bad place to wait – with coffee in hand the foghorn from the lighthouse is the only reminder of how treacherous this coastline can be.
All of a sudden the sun pierces through the mist, glistens on the ocean and illuminates a pod of dolphins that has made its way close to shore. We spring into action, eager to get out and explore the sea by kayak. It’s a feeling like no other when we realise the pod is actually a super pod of dolphins, unfazed by our sudden entrance as they breach and dive all around us.
In awe we paddle with them for the next hour, exploring channels through the rocks and passing penguins and seals on the journey – a casual morning kayak which quickly turned into an ocean safari.
After a morning like that I am not ready to leave the ocean, but a lunch time hunger has begun to set in. Just a short walk away is the ultimate setting for lunch, Gaaitjie restaurant. The look and feel of this family run restaurant is ideal as I reminisce about my morning adventure just a few hundred meters from where I am seated.
Freshly baked bread and seafood treats are immaculately presented, but it is the cosy family vibe which leads to long, lazy conversations. Soon, strangers become friends as I indulge in the tastiest home-baked desserts, leaving me in a food coma for the rest of the afternoon.
A seal plays in the breakers as the orange glimmer of sunset illuminates my path as I stroll along this golden stretch of coastline one last time it dawns on me that no modern roads or influx of tourists will destroy Paternoster.
There is a gentle culture which has been built up over the years and the local, family and community atmosphere is what makes it special. I hope you, too, will one day enjoy the magic of Paternoster.
Know before you go
Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel
Tel: +2721 794 5858
Tel:+27 60 927 0403
Tel:+27 22 752 2242 (Thursdays-Mondays)
Tel:+27 73 753 1363 (Tuesdays-Wednesdays)
Tel:+27 83 795 4198