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WESTERN CAPE: Our insider’s guide to Jacobsbaai

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The nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela current flow past this quaint village on the West Coast Biosphere which is abundant with wildlife.

The area offers a laid-back healthy lifestyle close to nature and trails for professionals and retirees alike.

I love this place. Our family loves this place. We’re raising three kids and the amount of freedom is phenomenal. One can stroll or casually cycle around town, head out to one of the many trails if you are feeling more energetic, clamber over rocks or take a dip in a favourite rock pool. And did I mention the magical sunsets?

Today, the quaint village is gaining popularity as it is an easy commute to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) – the first special economic zone to include a port and set to benefit from activities at oil fields off the west coast of Africa.

For resident Herman Jonker the town is attractive because of what it does not offer.

“Jacobsbaai does not have everything, not even tarred roads everywhere, but the gravel roads make it feel like healthy farm-style living. It does not have a grocery store, but the local cafe stocks most essentials.

“I love this place. Our family loves this place. We’re raising three kids and the amount of freedom is phenomenal. One can stroll or casually cycle around town, head out to one of many trails if you are feeling more energetic, clamber over rocks or take a dip in a favourite rock pool. And did I mention the magical sunsets?”

In addition to the numerous green zones within the town, Jacobsbaai is surrounded by fynbos. This supports abundant wildlife. It’s usual to see duiker and small antelope in the village, while birding is popular for the kites, eagles and buzzards that abound. Southern right whales and dolphins are regular visitors.

The town encompasses seven individual bays, each with its own attraction. There’s a small-craft launch site, another for diving and fishing, yet another with a decent break for surfers, while Smalbaai is home to sea birds such as oyster catchers and cormorants.

A typical example of a Jacobsbaai home where strict guidelines and regulations ensure all buildings are painted white. Picture: Meryl Botes

Hospital Bay is ideal for swimming and sun. It acquired its name from the 1800s when passing ships used to drop their sick for quarantining before reaching Cape Town.

Taking advantage of the pristine and nutrient-rich waters of the Benguela current flowing past the town is an abalone farm. Established in 1995 the business has grown into a significant producer of this high-value and desirable seafood.

As is the case with several South African coastal villages, strict building guidelines are in place regulating its architecture. All buildings must be painted white and perimeter walls may not be higher than 1.4m.

Jacobsbaai is ideal for nature lovers, for walking or cycling with many trails and beaches to choose from. Picture: Meryl Botes

“There is enough undeveloped property to more than double the size of the town,” says Meryl Botes, consultant with Chas Everitt. “There’s a secure life-style development on the market. The first phase, comprising 20 plots, is almost sold out; phase two is under way.”

Prices are from R963000 for a one-bedroom unit to R1.695million for a three-bedroom home.

Jacobsbaai has a relatively high percentage of permanent residents and not all are retirees. The attractive environment makes it a home for professionals working in surrounding towns. The IDZ has also contributed to a healthy rental market.

“If you’re looking for a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle the Cape West Coast has a lot to offer and one of its jewels is definitely Jacobsbaai,” says Botes. “The natural amenities are plentiful, you can’t get closer to nature yet you remain only a short drive from a shopping mall and other retail therapies.”

Herman Jonker’s favourite things to do

I love this place. Our family loves this place. We’re raising three kids and the amount of freedom is phenomenal. One can stroll or casually cycle around town, head out to one of the many trails if you are feeling more energetic, clamber over rocks or take a dip in a favourite rock pool. And did I mention the magical sunsets? – Sherman and Marianne Jonker, residents Picture: Supplied

1 Outdoors

This is an outdoor paradise. Take a coastal hike north to Trekoskraal, about 10km, or if you’ve the legs continue to Cape Columbine or slightly further to picturesque Paternoster. There are a couple of sheltered swimming spots where the water does warm up, but for the most part a shorty wetsuit will make your daily dip more comfortable.

2 Shop

The town hosts a number of special events; the annual potjiekos competition is worth a visit, the Wapad Jol sees the entire community come together with various outdoor activities such as a fun run, craft beer and gins on offer during the evening. If you’re willing to drive, Hopefield Market is a worthwhile Saturday morning outing, offering organic and other goodies for sale from 10am-2pm.

3 Eat

Nothing beats catching, cooking and eating the fruits of one’s endeavours – the cold Benguela current is perfect for West Coast rock lobster; make sure you have a permit.

West coast rock lobster is on the endangered list and it requires a permit to catch. Picture: Gary van Wyk

4 Drink

Oppistoep Restaurant is a great place to catch up on the game of the day. They offer a respectable menu to accompany your favourite tipple; 021 715 3161

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