Sandy white beaches, white-washed cottages, fynbos, and colourful fishing boats abound. The village of Paternoster, on the West Coast, is a sun-beaten world of charm and tranquility. It is also one of the oldest and most popular destinations on the West Coast.
But how to unlock this oasis that seems more Grecian than South African? We have a few suggestions. Paternoster, which means ‘Our Father’, indeed could be the answer to your relaxation prayers.
Paternoster is a gourmet hotspot and is home to some outstanding restaurants. The freshest seafood, combined with recipes passed down from generation to generation, make for some truly unique and unmissable dishes. For a fine-dining experience, we suggest that you visit Wolfgat.
Recently included in the World’s 100 Greatest Places 2019, as selected by Time Magazine, you will need to make sure to book ahead for this one. Just what makes it so unique? Think sustainable seafood, local lamb and venison, and seasonal veldkos, enhanced by wild herbs, seaweeds from the local rock pools, and pickings from the garden: this, all driven by renowned chef and avid forager, Kobus van der Merwe. The setting too is something to behold. Perched on the ancient Wolfgat cave, from whence this spot derived its name, this bite-sized, 130-year-old cottage allows for unimpeded views of the bay of Paternoster.
If you can’t get a booking or are after a simple affair, we suggest The Noisy Oyster. Seafood served with a Mediterranean flair, coupled with a buzzing to boisterous atmosphere always makes for a fun, relaxed afternoon or evening out. Concierge tip: Oep ve Koep Bistro in Die Winkel Op Paternoster is Wolfgat’s sister restaurant and serves a four-course menu that is equally as locally inspired.
2. Visit the wildflowers and lighthouse.
The West Coast blooms into glorious colour from late July to September, but by far the best display is in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve. White, yellow, orange, and purple spring flowers carpet the dunes. This display, informally known as the Namaqualand Daisies, is an irresistible attraction for international and local tourists alike. However, even without the blooms, a trip to the famous Columbine lighthouse is worth it.
Raised in 1936, the Cape Columbine is the last manned lighthouse that was ever built in South Africa and tells an intriguing story of the West Coast of yesteryear. For a small fee, the light-keeper will even let you climb the 97 steps to the top of the tower to admire the view.
3. Spot the bird and marine life
The marine life of Paternoster is a delight to behold. If you are both lucky and observant, you might be fortunate enough to spot large pods of dolphins or Southern Right Whales. However, even without the cetaceous action, the birdlife is a treat.
Over 250 land and marine populate the area. Endangered Oystercatchers with their distinctive, bright red beaks perch on the rocky cliffs, while penguin colonies amuse and delight. Gulls with enormous wingspans fly overhead, and sleek cormorants dive for their dinner. There is even a local seal colony.
4. Chill out, or get adventurous
Paternoster encourages relation, so long walks on the beach are key. However, if you are itching for some action, you might think about heading out for a kayak, or, if you are brave and experienced, you could surf, kite-surf, scuba dive, or try your hand at deep-sea fishing. For those who prefer to remain land-based, we hear that the horse riding is lovely.
5. Shop for souvenirs
While it’s no shopping Mecca, Paternoster is home to some charming little village stores – perfect for loading up on souvenirs or snacks.
Jem & Pantoffels stocks a wonderfully curated selection of homeware, gifts, jewellery, slippers, and treats. The Stonefish and Gallery is another permanent must. The Gallery exhibits contemporary fine art, ceramics, and limited editions of photographers acclaimed both locally and internationally. Maneki is another sweet little spot and supports local designers by selling their cutlery, jewellery, leather bags, hats, and lots more.
Blog post by Tarah Darge