Arniston is a small fishing village on the South Coast of South Africa. From June to September it is a haven for Southern right whales who visit the shoreline to breach and calve.The town's small lime-washed cottages along with the absence of shops lend the place an authenticity that other seaside villages lack. For these reasons and more, Arniston is ever popular among local and foreign visitors alike.
The town is considered a retreat by those who are looking for a stress-free getaway. With the wild blue ocean, long stretches of beach and the remnants of a shipwreck found strewn along the coastline, one cannot help but ease into a relaxing mode.Strolling along the beach you will inevitably come across evidence of the strandlopers, members of the Khoi-San who would trail the beach picking muscles and catching fish with rudimentary traps. Imagining life as it was then is guaranteed to provide perspective on the niggles of your everyday life, as is the breath-taking beauty of the area.
Kassiesbaai, the small traditional part of the town remains unchanged after centuries. This is the Arniston which captures travellers' eyes as the age-old cottages and their thatched roofs still house traditional fishermen who go out each morning in old, brightly-coloured wooden boats.
In sticking with the intrigue and imagination-inspiring character of the town itself, the name Arniston also conjures up images of a bygone era. While it was initially named Waenhuiskrans ('wagon house cliff' in Afrikaans) after a large sea cave in the area, it became known as Arniston after the ship of that name ran aground on the jagged coast after a wild storm. Of the 378 people on board, only 6 survived. Today, there is a replica of a memorial plaque for a couple's young sons who died in the wreck.
A typical weekend in Arniston is spent meandering along the coastline, taking a walk to the Weanhuiskrans - the cave set in the cliff which is said to be large enough to house a wagon and a full span of oxen - and visiting the neighbouring nature reserves. The cave is a short but exciting walk from Arniston involving rock scrambling and hiking up the dunes. It can only be reached at low tide.
On either side of the town lie De Hoop Nature Reserve and De Mond respectively. These are coastal and marine reserves which are home to protected species of fish, nearly 100 seabird species, including the African black oyster catcher and numerous small mammals.
Following days in the outdoors spent hiking, taking in the fresh air and visiting nearby game reserves, tired travellers can take refuge for the night in Arniston's seaside cottages and self-catering establishments.
Bredasdorp is the nearest town where groceries and supplies can be bought.
For a truly special trip, visit Arniston and soak up the beauty and wonder of this small village.
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