Activities and Things to See in and around Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is a holiday maker's paradise and the eco-tourist's dream. It is home to indigenous Cape flora, wetlands and lagoons, forests of unsurpassed beauty and sun bleached beaches. There are 27 common species of Ericas in this area and there are a vast number of other flowering species. Amongst the well known trees are the Yellowwood, Stinkwood and the Outeniqua Yellowwood.

Many activities keep you occupied for as long as you can stay. Spot Dolphins and Southern Right Whales or explore the Otter or Robberg trails in the area. When visiting the nearby pristine beaches remember to collect rare Pansy shells. You can also enjoy a guided cruise or a relaxing paddle up the Keurbooms River.

The warm Indian Ocean and the abundance of inland water surfaces offer endless opportunities for bathing, boating, water-skiing, surfing, windsurfing, angling, diving and bird watching. Bowls, tennis, horse riding and hiking are other popular forms of recreation along the Garden Route.

Whale Watching

The bay also acts as a nursery to the Southern Right Whale and they can be seen calving during July to December when these beautiful creatures come into the bay to calve and protect their young.

The Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena Australis) was harvested in this bay until 1916 when the annual counts were a mere 10 to 40 adult females. Today the total annual population along our coast is about 1700. Other whales often seen include the Brydes, Humpback, Minke and Killer (Orca) whales.

Outstanding whale watching facilities with ideal viewpoints along the coastline are offered which are easily accessible are:

Robberg Beach - Lookout Viewpoint - Robberg Island - Keurbooms Beach - Beacon Island - Nature's Valley Beach - Lookout Rocks - Storms River Mouth

Things to do

  • Hazy, lazy sun drenched golden days on some of the finest beaches in the world! Safe beaches for swimming, surfing, snorkelling and sunbathing. Scuba and skin diving close to the beach.
  • Boating and angling on the Keurbooms river.
  • Deep sea fishing or catching the 'big one' off Robberg's rocks
  • Canoe and Ferry trips up the Keurbooms River
  • Two, eighteen hole golf courses within five minutes drive, several world class courses along the Garden Route.
  • Black water tubing down the Storms River
  • Horse riding, cycling and mountain biking tours in picturesque surroundings
  • Scenic drives
  • 4x4 off-road trails
  • Nelson Bay Cave and Wild Waters Park.
  • Glider trips
  • Arts and crafts
  • Enjoy scenic walks on the beaches, nature reserve and nearby forests. There is excellent birding at highly bio-diverse, recognised sites
  • Guided tours around the Robberg Nature Reserve
  • Hike the famous Otter and Tsitsikamma trails
  • Bungi Jumping - 216m - the highest in the world!

Organised Trips and Day Outings

  • Whale, Dolphin and Seal watching
  • Monkeyland - home to an astonishing variety of primates in a pretty forest setting
  • Birds of Eden - the world's largest single span aviary
  • Elephant Park - the opportunity to touch an African elephant
  • Raptors and much more

About Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is situated 230 km from Port Elizabeth and approximately 530 km from Cape Town in the heart of the Garden Route which is a favoured all year round destination of many local and foreign visitors. The dramatic scenery, easy access by road and air and relaxed holiday atmosphere has a special attraction to busy city dwellers. The well developed towns offer all modern amenities, health care facilities and communications.

Plettenberg Bay has an unrivalled natural beauty and deserves its title as the jewel of the Garden Route. The greater area including surrounding villages and settlements is named Bitou, a name unanimously adopted by all communities. ( Bitou is a prolific and attractive indigenous plant widely occurring in the area. )

Plettenberg Bay is renowned for its unique marine reserves and the fast bay is home to dolphins, whales (seasonal) and seals. The beaches and rivers are a water enthusiast's paradise. Our beautiful town offers the visitor plenty of night life, restaurants, pubs and an array of accommodation to suit all lifestyles.


The recorded history of Plettenberg Bay is vague before European settlers arrived but there is evidence of Stone Age settlements, the migratory San tribes and clear physical evidence of the strandloper settlements in accessible locations for interested visitors. These locations also reveal major ocean and climate changes in the area.

The earliest European settlers were shipwrecked Portugese sailors in 1630, who left physical evidence of their visits now kept on display in the municipal offices, their most lasting contribution was to name the bay ''Bahia Formosa'' translated to beautiful bay and the name Formosa is widely used today as Plettenberg Bay is a truly beautiful place. 

In 1763 the first white settlers in the Bay were stock farmers, hunters and frontiersmen from the Western Cape. The Swede, Carl Peter Thunberg, was the first to document valuable observations on the bay and the Robberg.

The Governor of the Cape, Baron Joachim van Plettenberg, renamed the town Plettenberg Bay in 1779.

In 1787 a woodcutter's post was established and Johann Jacob Jerling was commissioned by the Dutch East India Co. to build a storehouse for timber which was first exported in 1788. The timber trade grew leading to Thomas Bain building Prince Alfred Pass (1868) and the 90km forest road through the Tsitsikamma to Humansdorp. Three major passes had to be constructed: Groot Rivier, Blauwkrantz and Storms River. The entire road was complete 16 years later in 1885.

In 1910 Captain Sinclair set up the whaling station on Beacon Island to harvest the placid Southern Right whales but this ceased operation in 1916. The first hotel was erected by Hugh Owen Grant in 1940 and replaced in 1972 by the current well known landmark on Beacon Island. Beacon Island got its first navigational beacon in 1772 and a beacon of stone stands still stands in approximately the same place which has the original markings on it. 

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