I’ve been visiting Plett since I was only one month old. That’s right, my parents packed up their new-born baby in Bloemfontein and headed to Plettenberg Bay in December. Since then, Plett has become such an integral part of my life that I cannot end a year without a visit to this beloved town. In December of 2016, I also had the privilege of spreading my mother’s ashes close to our beach house and recently my godmother bought herself a cottage just down the road from our beach house, so I’ll always be returning to this beautiful little town.
The thing to remember about Plett is that it is a small town, and in December both Saffers and foreigners flock here to enjoy the summer sun and surf. This means that finding a spot for breakfast can become quite a mission! Our favourite spot to try, and we had about a ten-minute wait mid-December, is Le Fournil de Plett, a small bakery and coffee shop situated in a courtyard just off Main Street.
The tables are laid out under trees and are surrounded by little shops, creating a very European feel. They serve Truth Coffee and my smoked trout on toasted rye breakfast was to die for! They also have a seating area on the deck overlooking Main Street which is especially nice in the busier times, as the streets are bustling with interesting people.
Fish and chips is a must when visiting any coastal town and I always make a point of going to sample some of the local fish and chips joints. Plett locals will tell you that the Beacon Isle beachfront is where you will find the best fish, calamari, prawns and chips. Our favourite hangout is the Ski Boat Club Restaurant right on Main Beach.
Not only do they have a fish and calamari combo that is the stuff of dreams, they also serve the tastiest onion rings – all the oily goodness we’re only allowed on holiday. They also have quite a few specials running through the week as well. On Fridays, for example, you can get hake and chips for only R79! Combine that with an ice cold Savannah and I am sure you’ll be able to taste December holidays.
About six kilometres outside of Plett towards Humansdorp, is the small little village of Keurbooms. Separated from Plett by the Keurbooms Lagoon, this little village is a lovely escape from the craziness of the town itself. Keurboomstrand is also home to one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve ever been to.
In high season, Enrico Restaurant is the place to be. The Enrico’s terrace has the most exquisite sunset views and in high season you’ll find tourists queuing for more than half an hour just for a spot in this extremely popular restaurant. Enrico and his wife, of Roman descent, run the restaurant and only serves hearty, delicious Italian food.
Fish, veal, pizza and pasta; they really have it all, but upon visiting you have to try the focaccia (or bomba as they call it) with just a little bit of garlic. They also have a full collection of true Italian wines, although we still prefer a Kaapse Vonkel to cheers to the African sunset. Once the sun starts to set, the magic really starts happening with couples crowding the terrace to capture the sunset and oftentimes you’ll find people spontaneously starting to dance in the last rays of the summer sun.
Over the last couple of years, the Plettenberg Bay wine route has really been expanding with several wineries being added to the route in the last three years. Most of these vineyards are located close to The Crags, just a stone’s throw from the Plett Polo court which hosts international test matches annually during the December period. Some vineyards can also be found around the Harkerville area, which is to Knysna’s side.
The first vineyards in the area were planted by the Bramon Wine Estate, starting the area off on their journey to award-winning wines and bubblies. Their tasting room is situated right on the N2, making it easy to pull in for some wines or lunch at their restaurant. Several of the other producers in the area bottle their wines at the Bramon Wine Estate under the assistance of the master winemaker Anton Smal.
My favourite of all the estates in the region is Newstead Wines. This estate focuses on the production of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It is really their MCC that I fell in love with and is definitely worth a try. In the same vein, their tasting room is the stuff of dreams. Booking a lunch at their venue guarantees that you will be treated to locally sourced goodies inspired by seasonal produce and paired with some of their delicious wines – what a treat!
But isn’t a coastal town just a good as its best beach? Well, Plett has no shortage of fantastic beaches. For years the most popular beach around was Lookout Beach. In the early 2000s, locals started noticing that the Keurbooms River Estuary was slowly eating away at the famous Lookout Beach.
In November of 2007 floods in the Garden Route area caused massive damage to the beach and parking lot causing Lookout Beach to essentially disappear. Since then, the water has once again receded to expose the beach and a lot of sand dunes have appeared in its place. Lookout Beach is still a great place to spend a day on the beach but you have to walk quite a stretch on the burning sand to get to the water. If you have children, this long stretch of beach is a much better option than the crowded main beach.
The Main Beach is located in front of the famous Beacon Isle Hotel. On any giving day during peak times you’ll find a bunch of holiday-goers lounging in the sun and enjoying the surf. The beach also has clean bathrooms and lifeguards making it safe to enjoy at leisure. On a wind-still day, it almost becomes a lagoon-like surf and you’ll be able to swim with the entire family. The beach is also close to a few fantastic restaurants, making it easy to enjoy a cocktail or two.
The Keurboom Beach is located just beneath Enrico’s Restaurant, and is mainly visited by Keurbooms locals or those enjoying a sundowner at Enricos. Parking can be quite a problem in this small village so be prepared to walk a bit. There are always lifeguards during peak season and the beach is quite rocky, so opting to go during low tide is probably the best idea.
Fresh Produce and Farm stalls
Any Plett local will point you in the direction of Thyme and Again for amazing fresh produce and foodie goodies. This farm stall is situated on the N2, just before the Keurbooms turn-off, and is a great place to stop for a coffee and a bite. My grandfather annually had a Thyme and Again kidney steak pie on his Christmas wishlist, while I cannot pass without having one of their delicious date balls – amazing!
If you are willing to leave the seaside behind and head a bit inland towards Nature’s Valley, you’d find the Nature’s Way farm stall and bakery. Not only do they have daily fresh bread (and croissants!), they also have a variety of local cheeses and butter that will leave you filling your basket. The farm stall is situated on a working dairy farm, so chances are you’ll be able to spot a few jersey cows as well.
*Expert Tip: Go Find Arch Rock
Head out of Plett towards Keurbooms. Have lunch at Enrico’s. Ensure that it is low tide. From Enrico’s take the boardwalk down to the beach. Keep walking and pass by a rock formation. Thereafter, you’ll come to a lagoon. Cross the water and keep heading down the beach where it becomes a bit rocky. Keep your eye out for a rock formation, to the left, with a hole at the top. You have arrived at one of my favourite places in the entire world! Welcome to Arch Rock.
Tradition dictates that you have to attempt throwing a rock through the opening, just be sure to not injure your fellow explorers!