Gansbaai on Walker Bay is renowned for its shark-diving activities for intrepid visitors, but the area has a lot more to offer, including the annual miracle of the return of southern right whales to calve, its rich endemic fynbos on the mountain slop
Once you’ve driven through Hermanus, keep going; the road will circle widely around Walker Bay and eventually lead you to Gansbaai – about two hours, or a little more, from Cape Town.
Walker Bay is famous for its annual visitors, the southern right whales which arrive to calve between July and December. At this point the bay becomes a marine sanctuary. Gansbaai can sometimes offer even better sighting opportunities than Hermanus itself. There’s also the infamous Shark Alley with its population of great whites, and a thriving business of shark-cage diving boats which head out from the harbour daily (weather permitting), allowing adventure-seekers the opportunity to see these ocean giants up close.
Between the ocean and the Dynefontein Mountains is a magnificent coastline rich in fynbos vegetation. “Rare endemic fynbos grows on the slopes between Stanford and Gansbaai, in particular the beautiful pink Erica irregularis only found in this area,” says resident Mandy Swart, who is Forest Lodge manager at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, and who adores living in this area.
Within this untamed wilderness, Gansbaai includes the small town of Stanford, as well as Kleinbaai and De Kelders, with its gorgeous beachfront properties. A strong arm would make them literally a stone’s throw from the ocean. Here you will find the Klipgat Caves, where evidence has been found of human habitation dating back 80 000 years.
“It is an easy walk with steps going down into the cave. The same pathway takes you on to a beautiful stretch of beach named Die Plaat,” says Swart. Seeff agent Marlene Uys says: “Gansbaai continues to experience a steady flow of property inquiries and consistent sales volumes. We believe coastal properties here still offer excellent value and long-term investment potential.”
The area attracts holiday home buyers and retirees, says Uys: “Full title property prices range from around R1.2 million to R1.85m on average, but large homes can go up as high as R4m.”
When they come on to the market, the luxury beach houses of De Kelders can fetch as much as R12m. “Gansbaai is a popular holiday town and hence a busy rental market. Long-term rates range between R4 000 to R7 500 and holiday rates from around R1 800 a day for a three-bedroom property,” says Uys.
Swart says: “It is a community with mostly retired couples or holiday homes and in a way it always feels as if you’re on holiday because every weekend you have people all around you who’ve come from Cape Town. There are children playing in the street, and you can smell braais going. “It also helps that while I am always working in December, I feel as if I’m part of the holiday crowd so I just fall in with their plans after work.”
Mandy Swart’s favourite places and things to do
“There are amazing wineries – Raka, Sir Robert Stanford, Walkerbay Vineyards, Stanford Hills, Boschrivier – just on our doorstep,” says Swart.
“This is the place with the most dramatic and special sunsets ever. You are guaranteed to have an amazing sunset with the backdrop of the Overberg mountain range, and some days when it’s clear you can even see Cape Point.”
“Kleinriver Cheese Farm makes great quality artisanal cheeses – Danbo, Leyden, Colby, smoked Stanford and Gruberg. It has a petting farm with goats and donkeys that can be fed with buckets of food sold at the shop, and you can order a picnic to enjoy next to the river. 028 341 0693
“This will get your adrenaline pumping. It’s great fun that will stay with you for a long time. Die Plaat has the most amazing dunes, and when you get down to the hard sand it’s exhilarating to go for a long cycle next to the crashing waves.” 087 725 2097