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Paternoster: A Hidden Gem on South Africa’s West Coast

Sailun Tires

By Jeff Silverstein

If you ever find yourself in Cape Town, South Africa – one of the world’s most extraordinary cities – with a few days to spare, there’s a hidden gem of a place less than an hour and a half away called Paternoster that is now turning heads.

Most visitors to Cape Town who have the luxury and time of adding a few days to their Cape Town trip tend to head east along the Garden Route with its lush forests, mountains, and pretty coastal roads, but if you head west and drive along South Africa’s captivating West Coast, you’ll arrive at Paternoster, one of the quaintest fisherman’s villages there is.

Clusters of white-washed, thatch roofed fisherman cottages dot the Atlantic Ocean’s shoreline giving it the appearance at first glance of a fishing village in Greece, complete with expansive white beaches, azure blue waters, fragrant fynbos, and a natural beauty and serenity that takes your breath away.  

Whether you are seeking a romantic beachfront escape, some quality family time, or a tranquil retreat beside the sea for some much needed R&R, this quirky little seaside village blends serenity with small-town comforts. Add to this a legendary food scene and you have the makings of a perfect escape. 

With its breathtaking coastline and glorious beaches, there’s a simplicity and idyllic coastal charm that possesses your soul the moment you arrive. 

When we broached the idea of going there with our friends from Cape Town, they didn’t know what to make of our plan. With no shortage of stunning places to visit in South Africa, they weren’t sure what we were after. But we were ready for something a bit off the beaten path. And in many ways, with its West Coast charm, laid back atmosphere and easy sense of style, Paternoster is the consummate boho chic destination. 

Well known to South Africans and a popular weekend bolthole for those lucky enough to live in Cape Town, the town made headlines around the world in 2019 when Wolfgat, a tiny rustic restaurant nestled on the beach, was named Best Restaurant in the World in the internationally acclaimed World Restaurant Awards. 

Held in the French capital every year, the World Restaurant Awards celebrate restaurants for their cultural value, and each restaurant is judged by a panel of experts in the industry from across the world.

The 130-year-old fisherman cottage that houses the restaurant is unassuming, but the dining experience is totally unique. Headed up and managed by Chef Kobus van der Merwe, the restaurant is committed to using indigenous ingredients, many of which are foraged from the sea and its surroundings. And getting a table at this coveted restaurant takes some serious planning. Give yourself at least three months if you want to secure a spot. But believe me, it’s worth it.

The restaurant can only accommodate up to 20 diners, something that helps keep things sustainable but also makes the whole experience that much more intimate. Not surprisingly, the seven course menu is made up of a series of local dishes – things like sustainable seafood and local lamb and venison along with wild herbs from the garden and seaweeds from the local rock pools.

If you are not able to snag a table at Wolfgat, you can always try their sister restaurant called Oep ve Koep, a garden bistro that is tucked in next to the iconic Die Winkel op Paternoster, a general store that feels frozen in time, but once you step into the garden you are treated to a 4-course set menu that features a variety of local seafood and wild pickings, with the menu changing daily according to seasonality and availability. Think of it as modern country cooking, inspired and pioneered by Chef Kobus at Wolfgat but easier to get a reservation at.

The other show stopper of a restaurant in this postcard pretty town is Leeto Restaurant. Situated at the end of the town’s main beach and located in the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel, this intimate shoreside restaurant embodies contemporary West Coast cuisine with fabulous ocean views. With its massive glass doors that accordion to allow the beach and seascape in, the restaurant showcases some of the finest fresh local cuisine.

Another popular spot is The Noisy Oyster Restaurant. This quirky, unpretentious restaurant has some great food and a really fun, eclectic vibe. Lit up at night by fairy lights and lanterns, the menu leans more toward traditional South African cuisine than contemporary, but it’s a local favourite that never disappoints.

De See Kat is another fabulous beachfront restaurant serving fresh seafood and sushi, complete with stunning views of the main beach.

Tourism may be the town’s economic driver, but fishing is still very much a way of life, and has been for over a century. Every morning you can see the colourful wooden boats pull up on the beach and unload their catch. And if you want to try your hand at some fishing from the beach or book a deep-sea fishing excursion, there are a number of local operators. 

Lobster, oysters and abalone are all plentiful. And the area around Paternoster is teeming with wildlife. There are said to be over 225 bird species along with whales, dolphins, seals and penguins. 

And about 5km from the town, anchored by the last manually-operated lighthouse in all of South Africa, is the Columbine Nature Reserve. With its large expanse of coastline and great hiking trails that wind through the fynbos vegetation and offer stunning views of the coastline, it’s a great spot to picnic or even BBQ.

And if you are feeling really adventurous, sea kayaking is a great way to explore the coastline and check out the incredible rock formations, sea caves and wildlife in the area. You can also rent bikes from local operators and check out the backroads, beaches and rolling dunes and fynbos which burst into a carpet of flowers that stretch across South Africa’s West Coast during late winter.

With its sheltered bay, Paternoster has also become a bit of mecca for surfers and kiteboarders. When we visited, our favourite beach was Bekbaai beach. Unlike the main beach, it was often deserted, and was the perfect spot for sunbathing in the shade of huge boulders, going for morning strolls, and catching the legendary sunsets that Paternoster is so famous for.

Can’t Miss Restaurants:

Oep ve Koep
Leeto Restaurant
The Noisy Oyster Restaurant +27 22 752 2196
De See Kat Restaurant +27 72 343 9793
The Hobnoberry (a quirky café great for breakfast or brunch) +27 84 240 0630

Best Accommodation:

Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel
A fusion of beach style and contemporary luxury, this boutique hotel sits at the end of the beach and is very exclusive and private. All 16 rooms and suites have their own courtyard or terrace with wide doors that open out onto breathtaking views of sky, sand and sea.

Perfect Hideaways
A handpicked, curated portfolio of over 400 homes throughout Africa and now Europe known for their outstanding architecture, gorgeous interiors and incredible locations. Choose from cozy fisherman’s cottages to family beach houses, some stylishly simple and others deceptively luxurious.

Paternoster Rentals
A great resource for renting one of over 65 properties, including everything from luxurious beach front cottages to budget-friendly family lodgings.

The Oystercatchers’ Haven



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