For those desperately in need of an escape, Paternoster is the perfect solution. This tiny town on the West Coast of South Africa is awash with stark beauty, few people and a simple, traditional approach to life.
Located about 150km from Cape Town, Paternoster makes for a very convenient weekend away. It's close proximity to the city means that 9-5ers can easily pack up after work on a Friday and arrive in time to catch the spectacular sunset.
The town's appearance is one of uniform white-washed cottages, either the original fisherman's cottages or modelled on that style. Many of the roads are gravel and much of the traffic pedestrian. Paternoster is very quiet, with the rowdiest scenes going down in one of the restaurants during a Saturday afternoon rugby match screening. For the most part, the only sounds you will hear are those of waves lapping the long, white shoreline, people chattering or hawking fresh fish and the odd vehicle crunching over the gravel. It is the perfect destination for those wishing to do as little as possible.
However, if you are more of the active type, Paternoster will oblige. Being one of the last remaining traditional fishing villages on this coast, the beach and ocean obviously take centre stage. Paternoster's beach is regularly lauded as one of the most breath-taking on the West Coast and provides kilometres of soft white sand to traverse at your leisure. Three kilometres from the town lies the Columbine Nature Reserve where the beach is in pristine condition.
The nature reserve is also home to the Columbine Lighthouse, and if you visit between July and October, the selection of spring flowers covering the coastline will surely entrance you.
Nearby there are plentiful hikes to be tackled and the Fossil Park will engage your imagination as you ogle the remains of giant ostriches and mega-tooth sharks. For those with sturdy sea-legs, kayaking in the bay is very rewarding, owing to the whales, dolphins, penguins and seals which inhabit the waters. On the subject of wildlife, a number of bird hides dot the coast, enabling prime viewing of the seabirds in the area.
As for restaurants, the selection is small, with the most popular being the Voorstrand Restaurant - a green and red tin structure right on the beach, with views to die for and a very unique bar.
Another plus for many is the pet-friendly nature of Paternoster hotels, and self catering establishments. The whole family can holiday together in the most inclusive sense of the word.
If you're looking for the perfect seaside break, stay in Paternoster!
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