Ask any South African and they’ll tell you that the country’s West Coast is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in Africa, if not the world.
Sure, there will be some amount of bias involved, but the fact of the matter is that they’re not wrong. South Africa’s West Coast has long since been described as a delicately charming stretch of coastline – an enticing part of the country that has become a haven of sorts for many.
Being relatively untouched by modern aesthetics and city-like developments, the various towns scattered along the West Coast coastline are all distinctly charming in their own way, with most of them being home to early settlers in the 17th and 18th century, and the indigenous Khoisan prior to that.
However, it’s one of the West Coast’s more famous towns that has stood the test of time, welcoming visitors with it’s captivating charm and warmth time and time again: Langebaan.
Only 120 kilometers from Cape Town, Langebaan has been a popular holiday destination for decades. Having seen somewhat of a renaissance in the past few years, Langebaan is not only a treat for locals, but a standout destination for international tourists as well.
The town itself is dripping with unobstructed beauty: a sparkling lagoon, spilling out on to bright white beaches, beautiful, natural fauna and flaura and that distinctive West Coast air that will clear any dwelling mind.
It is the ongoing allure of this stunning West Coast gem that has brought me back so many times, and my most recent visit to Langebaan was as refreshing and relaxing as ever.
Langebaan in winter is almost better than summer. While there is no denying that the town is a buzz and bustling with people, laughter, sunshine and an array of activities in the summer time, it is the cold, winter months that brings a certain calmness to the town; a calmness that seems to inevitably affect everyone surrendering to Langebaan for the moment.
It’s early June, and we arrive in Langebaan just after 4pm, leaving us enough time to check into our hotel for the evening and catch (what was sure to be) a breathtaking winter sunset.
Our hotel for the evening is the breathtakingly beautiful Farmhouse Hotel. The Farmhouse Hotel sits atop a small hill overlooking the lagoon, making it one of the most beautiful hotels in Langebaan.
The hotel itself is gorgeous. An old farmhouse that has been beautifully restored without losing the original, farmstead feel of the property. After checking in and being welcomed by the friendly receptionist and host manager (West Coast hospitality is definitely unparalleled) we’re shown to our room.
A gorgeous, loft-style room, decorated tastefully with some ornate, turn-of-the-century pieces to add to the vintage charm of the hotel. It’s cosy and pretty and there is even a fireplace in the room; and I am delighted.
After settling in and pouring ourselves a glass of wine, we make our way down the stairs of our room and out on to the garden of the property, just in time to see the winter sun bid farewell and set behind the sparkling lagoon.
To say that the sunset was breathtaking would surely be a cliché – nevermind an understatement. We were lucky that the rains of the past three days had stopped, and we could witness the sunset on a clear (but cold) winter’s evening.
We head back to the room to change for dinner and to charge the camera’s batteries (we already know we’re going to be taking a lot of pictures…)
We made reservations at the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Panorama Restaurant.
Being what I would consider a fish aficionado myself, I decide to opt for the catch of the day, which, to my delight, is locally caught Geelstert (I could mention the English name, Yellowtail, but it wouldn’t be as authentic as the meal proved to be).
My partner opted for the sirloin steak and it’s safe to say that both of us thoroughly stuffed ourselves. The fish and steak was beautifully cooked, and the accompanying sides were just as wonderful.
Washed down with a local Chenin Blanc and Pinotage from the area, we both sported a satisfied grin as we made our way back to our room.
The West Coast winter can be a particularly cold one, and we feel the bite of the cold as it lightly starts to drizzle. Inside our cosy room, however, we can only marvel at the comfort and luxury of the room and watch through the window as the rain falls outside.
We drift away into a deep slumber, having fully surrendered to the calmness of Langebaan.
The next morning we arise to another glorious day and I ask aloud if I will ever get tired of this stunning lagoon view.
We head to the breakfast area, ready to grab another cup of delicious (and traditional, nogal) moerkoffie.
With breakfast done and both of us thoroughly on a caffeine high, we explore the hotel once more; finding things we didn’t see at first when we arrived.
The Farmhouse Hotel has an in-house museum, showcasing artifacts, letters, art and everything in between from days gone past. Coffee grinders from the 1800’s, handwritten letters from the 1920’s and even some memorabilia hailing from the Voortrekkers.
There is also a cozy games room with a pool table and boardgames, a small and intimate bar called Legends Bar and Tannie Jane’s; a sweet little coffee & cake shop (also called a peusel spens). Everything at the Farmhouse Hotel adds to the undeniable charm of the building.
After we check out and say our goodbyes to the friendly staff, we decide to take the road less traveled (literally) back home to Cape Town.
Instead of heading straight back to the Mother City on the R27, we take a detour on the R45 en route to another quaint little town on the West Coast, Hopefield.
Hopefield is a tiny town in the heart of the Sandveld area, that looks like a painting. It’s a gorgeous small town, which is also the oldest town on South Africa’s West Coast, and we are very happy that we decided to the take ‘the long way home’ through Hopefield.
After Hopefield, we get back on the R45 and continue straight to Malmesbury. Driving through these beautiful, old and enchanting West Coast towns evokes a feeling of nostalgia – while I don’t know for what. The entire trip through and along the West Coast is magical.
It’s after Malmesbury that we get onto a road we know all too well, the N7. Realising we’re almost home, and with Table Mountain in sight, a sense of longing already starts to set in.
The West Coast steals your heart without thinking twice. It’s charming and alluring in the best possible way, and it knows it. I have yet to come across someone who has been to this part of South Africa and hasn’t returned – and I’m sure the West Coast wouldn’t want it any other way.
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