Taste the Sunshine

Arniston - The small fishing village of Arniston with its unspoilt coastline, white dunes and turquoise waters is situated at the most southerly point of the African continent.

The Place

Arniston - The small fishing village of Arniston with its unspoilt coastline, white dunes and turquoise waters is situated at the most southerly point of the African continent.  It is best known today for its 200 year-old fisherman's village, Kassiesbaai.  The village is a national monument and its whitewashed, thatched cottages have stolen the hearts of many artist and photographer.

Its countless shipwrecks, one of which the town Arniston is named, abounded the jagged coastline.  Arniston derives its name after name the East Indiaman British ship 'The Arniston' which sank in 1815.  The vessel was loaded with wounded soldiers to take them from Ceylon via Cape Town back to England after the Gurka and Kandian campaigns.  Heavy winds had destroyed all the sails of the 'The Arniston' and it was eventually decided to cut away the three anchors and run the ship ashore, breaking up on the needle-sharp rocks of the Arniston Reef.  Of the 378 passengers only six survived, rendering this disaster one of the most serious in the history of South Africa.  The remains of the ship were finally located in January 1982.

The village is also known as Waenhuiskrans ("wagon house cliff") named after the large cave that forms part of the coastline.  Literally translated it means 'ox-wagon cliff' and takes its name from the famous cave (which can be accessed only during low tide) which resembles the structures used by settlers to house their oxen and wagons.

Arniston is less than two hours drive from Cape Town, thus making it ideal and easy escape from the rush of city life.  During a stay at Arniston one can enjoy fishing, mountain biking, kite flying, swimming, snorkeling, hiking, bird watching and whale watching (May to November).  Alternatively, sitting back in a deck chair and doing nothing is also an option.

Interesting facts about Arniston

  • The fishing village of Kassiesbaai and the adjacent dunes name Dolla's Downs have provisionally been declared a Grade 1 Nation Heritage site called "the Wanehuiskras Cultural Landscape".  This grading is on the same level as Robben Island (where Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years).
  • Rules have been laid down for the preservation of the dunes to ensure the integrity of the heritage site is maintained.
  • The Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve has valuable ecological, historical and archaeological treasures;  amongst them the historical fish traps (called "visvyfers"), the cave and the archaeological shell middens. It is also an important breeding site for black oystercatchers and crowned cormorants.
  • Arniston is surrounded by significant tracts of land that are gradually being consolidated by the government and wildlife trusts, into what will eventually become the Nelson Mandela wildlife reserve.  This reserve will span more than a hundred kilometers of unspoilt coastline and a marine reserve with the most populous whale colony along the South African coast.
  • Arniston, described by Time magazine as one of the world's best kept secrets, was until recently simply a remote, almost forgotten, fishing village close to the southernmost tip of Africa. It has now expanded into a small town but owing to intervention by conservationists, the beauty and heritage is preserved.

Arniston Bay