Struisbaai is one of those like it or loathe it places. I'm a fan. What's not to love about the longest beach in the Southern hemisphere? It's a whole 24 kilometres of uninterrupted, pristine white sand. And you can actually swim in the sea without donning a full wetsuit or even getting an ice cream headache!
The older folk amongst us will remember the legendary Siebies, which tragically was demolished (to make way for an ill-fated property venture) in the process ripping the heart and soul out of the town. Fortunately the real estate misadventure didn't pan out, and we now have the Struisbaai Seashack to enjoy. Hat tip to @JuanIsGuan for pointing us to it.
Struisbaai is a small, predominantly Afrikaans, coastal town on the Overberg coast. It's an easy drive from Cape Town. The journey will take about two and a half hours and takes you through some beautiful rolling hills onto the Agulhas plain, which reminds me of Arcachon in France.
Known locally as 'Robertson on sea', since so many Robertson farmers have holiday homes there, the little town of Struisbaai was originally a fishing village and many of the classic white washed houses are still around. It is now geared towards holiday makers and there haven't been strict planning regulations so although there aren't any high rise developments there are a motley collection of houses with a few perfectly hideous examples of people indulging their holiday home fantasies; think pastel blue with a giant dolphin fountain in the courtyard and every surface covered in shells.
Langezandt fisherman's village is the best place to stay, particularly if you're lucky enough to stay in one of the houses on the beach front. It's a harmonious estate surrounded by fynbos and the houses are all built in the thatched roof, white wash style of fisherman's cottages but fortunately with more space and modern conveniences than the originals! Contact: Lettie Fourie on 0827148553 or email@example.com
There are lots of other options of places to stay. If you're on a budget the Cape Agulhas backpackers is a surprisingly nice place to bed down for the night with a little swimming pool and friendly staff. Opposite is the Little Lighthouse (Main Road) where you can hire all the kit you might need for mountain biking and canoeing. Surfboard lessons and kit are available to hire locally too. Contact: Robbie 0790862797 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For those that are feeling a little more adventurous, daily scenic flights are on offer (from R350) from the little airfield at Andrews Field. You can tell the pilot where you'd like to go over the Agulhas coastline and surrounds.
Not surprisingly fishing is a huge activity in the area. If you have a fishing license, you can shore fish along the beach or hire a boat to take you out deep sea fishing. And if you don't catch anything there's a great fish shop in town called fish and more (25 Main Street), so you won't need to go home empty handed!
About ten minutes drive along the coast takes you through L'Agulhas to Cape Agulhas, the Southern tip of Africa, where the warm Indian Ocean meets the chilly Atlantic.
It is also home to the second oldest lighthouse in South Africa, still functioning after 150 years. There's an abundance of hiking trails through the fynbos, the most intriguing of which is the Spookdraai, a two hour marked hike hugging the coastline. Nobody knows who the 'spook' is; the ghost of a shipwrecked mariner, a decapitated man or perhaps it's 'man alone', the lonely inhabitant of a solitary house on the point.
The local area boasts some excellent wines. Pop into the wine boutique on the Agulhas Main Road if you'd like some helpful advice. One of the best local farms to visit is the Black Oystercatcher where you can also have a delicious organic lunch at the restaurant using seasonal produce fresh from the garden.
Don't expect gourmet food in Struisbaai and most holiday makers don't venture far from the ubiquitous South African braai. My favourite place to go for lunch is Pelican's for calamari, prawns and chips washed down with some local wine. It's immediately adjacent to the harbour where you can watch the gentle coming and going of the fishing boats. The harbour is also locally famous for having some truly enormous sting rays basking in the shallows by the jetty. Alternatively try La Mouette on the main road. This is the best time of year to go as the Christmas crowds have gone, the autumn weather is balmy and you'll have that glorious expanse of beach almost to yourself!
Written (partly by) Emily Blott