Plettenberg Bay Travel Guide

Plan your trip to Plettenberg Bay, southern Africa with this comprehensive travel guide. Explore its natural attractions, cultural heritage, and local cuisine.

Introduction to Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay, also known as “Plett,” is a charming coastal town in Western Cape, South Africa, that attracts tourists from all over the world with its golden beaches, breathtaking scenery, and rich cultural heritage. Its location along the Garden Route, a 200-kilometer stretch of coastline between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, makes it an ideal base for exploring the natural wonders of the region, such as Tsitsikamma National Park, Robberg Nature Reserve, and Knysna Lagoon.

List of Places to Visit in Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay has a lot to offer to visitors, from culturally important attractions to outdoor adventures and scenic views. Here is a list of must-visit places:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Old Timber Shed: This historical landmark on the banks of the Piesang River was built in the early 1900s and now houses local artisanal shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • The Old Nick Village: This charming shopping village is home to a mix of art galleries, craft shops, and designer boutiques, all set in beautiful gardens.
  • Plett Puzzle Park: This outdoor amusement park features mazes, puzzles, and brain-teasers that are suitable for all ages and abilities.
  • The Making of Pansy Shell Museum: This museum showcases the making of pansy shells, a local craft that involves carving intricate patterns into a type of sea snail.

Natural Attractions of Plettenberg Bay: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Robberg Nature Reserve: This nature reserve covers over 1,800 hectares and offers a range of hiking trails that take visitors through fynbos shrubland, over rocky outcrops, and to scenic viewpoints.
  • Keurbooms River Nature Reserve: This reserve is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including otters, herons, and kingfishers, and visitors can explore its estuary by boat or kayak.
  • Lookout Beach: This golden sandy beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing, and is particularly popular with families.
  • Monkeyland and Birds of Eden: These two adjacent wildlife sanctuaries are home to a variety of primates and birds that are free to roam in large enclosures.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is a fantastic destination for hikers and bikers of all levels. Here are some of the best trails:

  • Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve Hike: This challenging 11-km trail takes visitors along the rugged coastline of Robberg Peninsula, passing by colonies of seals and birds and offering stunning views of the ocean.
  • Kranshoek Coastal Walk: This 9-km trail takes visitors through a diverse landscape of forest, fynbos, and rocky cliffs, with sweeping ocean views along the way.
  • Harkerville Trail: This mountain biking trail is a must-do for avid cyclists, covering over 30 km through the pristine forests of Harkerville.

Best Things to Do in Plettenberg Bay: Activities and Tours

  • Whale watching: Between July and November, the bay is visited by southern right whales, humpback whales, and bottlenose dolphins, and visitors can take boat tours to view them up close.
  • Forest canopy tours: Visitors can experience the magic of the forest from above by taking a zip-lining or treetop walking tour through the canopies of the Tsitsikamma forest.
  • Bungee jumping: Plett is home to the world’s highest commercial bungee jump, the Bloukrans Bridge Bungee, where daring visitors can leap off a 216-meter-high bridge!
  • Wine tasting: Plettenberg Bay is also known for its vineyards and wine estates, and visitors can take tours and tastings at places like Newstead Lund Family Vineyards and Bramon Wine Estate.

Week-Long Itinerary for Plettenberg Bay

To make the most of your trip to Plettenberg Bay, we’ve put together a recommended week-long itinerary:

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit Robberg Nature Reserve and hike the peninsula trail
Day 2 Take a boat tour of Keurbooms River Nature Reserve and enjoy a picnic on the banks
Day 3 Spend the day at Lookout Beach and enjoy the local restaurants and cafes
Day 4 Visit Monkeyland and Birds of Eden wildlife sanctuaries
Day 5 Take a wine tasting tour of local vineyards
Day 6 Experience the thrill of the Bloukrans Bridge Bungee or a forest canopy tour
Day 7 Visit the Old Timber Shed and the Old Nick Village for artisanal shopping and eating

Food and Drink Scene of Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is known for its fresh seafood, local wines, and craft beers. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages to sample:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Braaied snoek: A South African classic, snoek is a type of fish that is grilled over an open fire and served with grilled vegetables and lemon butter sauce.
  • Bobotie: Another South African favorite, bobotie is a meaty casserole that combines lamb or beef with dried fruit, curry spices, and a savory egg custard topping.
  • Biltong: Similar to beef jerky, biltong is a type of dried and salted meat that is commonly found in South Africa.

Local Beverages

  • Sauvignon Blanc: Plettenberg Bay is known for producing high-quality Sauvignon Blanc wines, thanks to the cool coastal climate and well-drained soils.
  • Craft beer: Plett is home to several craft beer breweries, such as The Brewhouse, The Old Nick Village Brewery, and Plett Brewing Company, where you can sample a range of locally-made beers.

Where to Stay in Plettenberg Bay: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Plettenberg Bay offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences, from luxury hotels and resorts to backpacker hostels and guesthouses. Here are some of the best places to stay:

  • The Plettenberg: A luxury hotel with stunning sea views and elegant decor, located in the heart of Plett.
  • Nothando Backpackers Lodge: A cozy and affordable hostel that offers basic dormitory rooms and communal facilities, perfect for budget-conscious travelers.
  • Lairds Lodge Country Estate: A charming guesthouse set in beautiful gardens, that offers spacious and well-appointed rooms and suites.

What to Buy in Plettenberg Bay: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Plettenberg Bay is a great place to shop for local handicrafts, artisanal products, and souvenirs. Here are some ideas for things to bring home:

  • Pansy shells: These delicate and intricate shells, made from a type of sea snail, are a unique and quintessentially Plett souvenir.
  • Local wines and craft beers: Many of the vineyards and breweries in the area offer tours and tastings, so you can bring home a taste of Plett.
  • African art and crafts: The Old Nick Village is a great place to browse for locally-made art, crafts, and homeware, as well as clothing and accessories made from African fabrics.

Local Culture and Customs of Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is a culturally diverse and friendly town, with a mix of English and Afrikaans-speaking inhabitants. The local Xhosa culture also plays an important role in the area’s history and identity. Visitors can expect to encounter a warm and welcoming community that values hospitality and respect.

Best Time to Visit Plettenberg Bay

The best time to visit Plettenberg Bay is from September to May, when the weather is warm and sunny, and the beaches and outdoor activities are at their best. However, it’s also the busiest time of year, so expect larger crowds and higher prices. If you’re looking for a quieter and more affordable trip, consider visiting during the winter months (June to August), when major attractions will be less busy and the landscapes will still be beautiful, albeit a bit cooler and windier.

Do’s and Don’ts of Plettenberg Bay

To make the most of your visit to Plettenberg Bay, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Respect the local culture and customs by dressing modestly and behaving respectfully in public spaces.
  • Take precautions against the sun and heat by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and drinking plenty of water.
  • Try the local cuisine and beverages, and explore the outdoor activities and natural attractions of the region.


  • Contribute to animal exploitation or cruelty by supporting attractions that offer activities like elephant riding or petting zoos.
  • Litter or damage the environment by leaving trash or disturbing the flora and fauna in nature reserves or beaches.
  • Disrespect the local culture or people by engaging in behavior that is rude or offensive.

Safety and Health

Safety in Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay is generally a safe destination for visitors, but it’s still important to take precautions against petty theft and crime. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep your valuables out of sight and locked up in your accommodation when you’re not using them.
  • Use a reputable taxi service or rental car company to avoid scams or dangerous situations.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings and avoid walking alone at night or in isolated areas.

Health in Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay has a good standard of healthcare facilities, including private hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. However, it’s always a good idea to take out travel insurance to cover any unexpected medical expenses. Other health tips to consider:

  • Follow standard hygiene practices by washing your hands frequently and avoiding food and water that could be contaminated.
  • Protect yourself against mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue fever by wearing long sleeves, using insect repellent, and sleeping under mosquito nets if necessary.

Getting to Plettenberg Bay: Transportation Options and Logistics

Plettenberg Bay is located about 590 km from Cape Town and about 240 km from Port Elizabeth, making it easy to reach by various modes of transportation.

Airports Near Plettenberg Bay

The nearest major airport to Plettenberg Bay is George Airport, which is about 90 km away. There are daily flights to and from major South African cities, such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. Alternatively, visitors can also fly to Port Elizabeth Airport and drive or take a bus to Plettenberg Bay.

Bus Stations Near Plettenberg Bay

Several long-distance bus companies operate regular services between Plettenberg Bay and major South African cities, such as Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Port Elizabeth, as well as nearby towns along the Garden Route.

Other Options

Visitors can also rent a car or take a taxi from the airport or bus station to Plettenberg Bay. Additionally, some tour operators offer shuttle services or private transfers from major cities and airports.

How to Get Around in Plettenberg Bay

The best way to get around Plettenberg Bay is by car, either by renting your own or arranging for a taxi or private transfer service. Most of the major attractions and natural reserves are spread out along the coastline and in the mountains, so having your own vehicle will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. Alternatively, visitors can also use local minibus taxis or walk/bike if they prefer.

Where to Go Next from Plettenberg Bay: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Plettenberg Bay is located in the heart of the Garden Route, a scenic coastal region that offers a wealth of natural and cultural attractions. Here are some nearby destinations and excursions to consider:

  • Knysna: This charming town is known for its lagoon, oysters, and festivals, and is only a 30-minute drive from Plettenberg Bay.
  • Tsitsikamma National Park: This pristine reserve is home to ancient forests, rocky cliffs, and dramatic ocean views, and is best explored on foot or by kayak.
  • Addo Elephant National Park: This park is home to over 600 elephants, as well as other wildlife like lions, leopards, and buffalo, and is located about 3 hours from Plettenberg Bay.


Plettenberg Bay is a true gem of South Africa’s Garden Route, offering visitors a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventure. From sampling fresh seafood and local wines to hiking along the rugged coastline and bungee jumping off a bridge, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this charming coastal town. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Plett is sure to enchant and inspire you.