Vacation Blog

South African Holiday Accommodation

Fairway Blog

Hermanus, wedged between beautiful eye-catching mountains and the breath-taking ocean. There must a secret to this popular destination which draws tourists both local and afar. I had to see it for myself. I was on yet another mission to find out what makes Hermanus tick.

With Hermanus being rated one of the best whale watching locations in the world by the World Wildlife Fund, I knew this was going to be an exciting trip. I packed my bags and got ready to experience the heart of the whale route for myself.

Fortunately I was in time for some whale sightings as they calve and mate between July to November.


Our flights where in sync as myself and Lyn landed simultaneously at Cape Town International Airport. Such eager beavers we were with an extra early start to our journey, we headed off to Hermanus for our stay at Fairway. Lyn had surprised me with an extraordinary scenic route. I was most grateful for this as I had bird’s eye views of the mountains kissing the oceans below.


 It was such an amazingly beautiful start to our trip. Passing Gordons Bay heading towards Hermanus, we had a vantage point of possibly spotting some whales if we were lucky. Whilst driving, Lyn had a few sudden and unexpected stops, catching me off guard. She had spotted something whale like in the ocean below. The excitement ran through my veins, this was a treasure hunt of a different kind. I was in my element. I could not contain myself.

The scenic route was well worth it, my eye had stolen sightings of such beauty and I had wished to park and sit on the edge of the mountain route, snapping photographs all day long. My daydream bubble popped and before I knew it, we had arrived in Hermanus. It was a lovely day with clear blue skies and a lovely oceanic breeze. I was in love.

As we approached Fairway, my eye caught the most beautiful garden I had ever seen, it was flourishing with colour and variety. Even the flowers loved it here, I could clearly see why.

Sandra Davies, the Resort manager at Fairway takes a huge amount of pride in her garden and not a single blade of grass was out of place. The resort looked amazing. I could only imagine how beautiful the units where. We were warmly welcomed by Sandra and her Husband Ellwyn upon our arrival and taken to our unit to settle in. With my camera in hand, I could not contain myself but to snap photos of the resort. Just as I had imagined, the units where neat, tidy and beautiful. What stood out for me the most is that there was fresh cut flowers from her garden in each unit. Such a special touch for our guests. I was utterly impressed.

We had some time to catch our breath and have some refreshments before we headed off for some sightseeing deeper in towards Caledon on route to Villiersdorp.

We had decided to take a drive through to see the surrounds as well as passing by many luscious wine farms. Along our journey, we stopped over to visit a farm establishment called Dassiesfontein. A deeper look inside to curb my curiosity, it held such unique handmade items and collections on offer. It had a cute little restaurant which I believe serves lovely dishes for those looking to stretch their legs and have a bite to eat.

After passing all of these wine farms, I had hoped that we could gather some time over our trip to pop in and experience true Cape Wines. There where so many of them along our drive, pondering to myself, if I hadn’t had a chance, I would definitely return in future and make a day out of it.

On our return, we had a few moments to take a drive up Rotary way which yielded any photographers dream view of the heart of Hermanus. The view took my breath away. It was such a treat to be able to see such beauty from where I was standing. I was fortunate to be able to stand on the highest point and take in the beauty of it all.

We had a few minutes to stop by the Southern Right Charters in Hermanus. This is the place to be to book a boat based whale watching trip or shark cage diving for the brave. I managed to get up close to a whale skull and whale replica on display. There were many facts on display about the various whales at sea and how to spot them. It was fascinating.

With our afternoon drive complete, we returned to Hermanus just in time for dinner at La Pentola. The food was absolutely amazing with unique flavours and items on the menu. The views from our table where priceless. It was just the right place to end a well excavated day.

The day had yet again been whisked away and we headed back to our unit to settle in and prepare for a couple of surprises planned for the next day.


Before we knew it, the morning was upon us and we were ready for the next journey on the cards. We took a drive to all of the lookout points namely Grotto Beach, Voelklip Beach, Sievers Punt and various slip roads which boasted a lovely view of the ocean in a hope to spot some whales. One of our early stops was at Bientang’s cave in Walker Bay, we had hopes of spotting a whale up close there. Bientang’s cave was an actual cave inhabited by a Koi Strandloper, Bientang. A restaurant built right into the cave which had a lovely history tale to tell. They decided to keep her story alive and offered ideal whale watching conditions whilst dining on some really superb meal options.

We followed through to Gearing’s point which had interesting sculptures on the cliff, it was quite a treat to view them as we passed by. It is well worth time spent to examine these works of art on display. My love of the strange and unique was yet again ignited. I had spotted a whale museum close by but alas, time had gone by so quickly. I had jotted it down for when I next returned. There was even a whale crier by the Name of Eric Davalah, this tradition started in 1991 and his task was to blow a kelp horn to alert tourists of whales nearby.

Lyn displayed a spur of the moment whale dance which had me in giggles as we walked towards a view point in Sievers Punt and with that said, we spotted whales. I believe the whale crier had some competition. It was such a lovely experience; I could just sit there for the rest of the day at peace waiting for the next sighting. I will keep in mind for my next visit to take up that offer of 20%  discount on whale watching with Ivanhoe Boat Based Whale Watching as well as with Hermanus Whale Cruises. This offer is for our guests too.

This all became thirsty work, so we headed back to the resort to freshen up and was instructed by Sandra to get ready for a big surprise. We had no idea what to expect so we headed down to the driveway in anticipation.

The Hermanus Wine Hoppers where there to collect Myself, Lyn and Sandra for a wine hopping tour.We were thrilled. Marco, our Tour guide made sure we were comfortable, informed and ready for a fantastic experience. We collected a few more guests and off we went. Our first wine stop was at the Whale Haven Wine Farm where we enjoyed a wine and chocolate pairing. This was absolutely a treat and the chocolate was just a bonus, who could say no to wine with chocolate. The chocolate was handmade by the Wale Haven Wine Farm and had some great combinations never before experienced.

After sampling some great pairings, we headed off to the next wine farm, Spookfontein. The lovely thing about the wine tour was that after a few tastings, all of the guests became very social and shared a couple of laughs on route to the next wine farm.

Spookfontein is nestled on a lovely hilltop with a beautifully decorated restaurant. The entree's where delicious and came just in time to blend the palate with the wine. We had decided to extend our visit and order lunch. It did not fail on flavour nor taste. It was superb. We decided that we would end our tour by stopping over at Domaine Des Dieux where we sampled some lovely champagne and wine. We had about 5 wine farms left on our tour, we had enjoyed the wine so much, having forgotten the wine rule to just lightly sample and not drink it all. We doubted that we could have any more wine and headed back before it became dark.

The great news is that our guests can also experience this awesome hop on – hop off adventure for R200.00 Per person to visit all the 7 wine farms on their list for the most adventurous. Some of the farms offer free tastings of their house wines but the pairings such as chocolate and jams are for your own cost.

The wine hoppers tour did an exceptional job at taking care of us and always ready to accommodate us with any request. I will definitely be returning to take on those 5 remaining wine farms personally.


Yet again with time that had slipped away so quickly, much like the year 2016, our trip had ended. The following morning we had just enough time to see some gorgeous pink flamingos graciously gliding on the water. I had been very sad to leave, I had so much left to do. But just as well as I had fallen in love with Hermanus and it had quickly captured my heart.

It was spectacular to see this beautiful part of our stunning country and I felt proud to be South African. There has been so much that I had seen for the first time and I left there feeling refreshed and invigorated by the beauty of this home of the whales. Just as they return each year, I will too.

 

Shirley`s corner - Trip to Settler Sands

Port Alfred, A hidden treasure, rich with history and much more to offer than only catching up on my much needed tan after a winter of hibernation.         But alas, I seem to never reach the beaches as I always run out of time because of my exploring and adventures in and around the town. My bucket list seems to constantly grow with all the activities I have to keep on hold until I return with more time at leisure.

Arriving at Port Elizabeth Airport awaiting Lyn’s flight to arrive, I was warmly welcomed by Kevin Edwards, Settler Sands resort manager. If I might add, Kevin shared a wealth of knowledge from our touch down to our departure. I was amazed at the flood of information he shared and continued to unravel as we travelled to Port Alfred. Kevin should be a standard package with all bookings as he is honestly a walking encyclopaedia. I could not keep up with all of the history and general knowledge he continued to reveal.

Due to our early flight, we became a little peckish and Kevin had the most ideal solution to this. Pies!! I firmly believe that there are no good or bad times for pies. We stopped at the Nanaga Farm Stall in Port Elizabeth and went in to get them. These where no ordinary pies, these where pies that would make you want to cry for more. Baked to perfection with a filling that would melt your diet right away. There was no time for dieting, there are pies to be eaten. This was definitely the perfect on route spot to grab something to eat on your way.

With so many places to be and see, the excitement was overwhelming. As this was my first time in Port Alfred, I didn’t know what to expect.

As we entered Port Alfred, I was in awe of the beautiful boats docked at the Kowie River as well as people rowing away on the river. I could definitely feel the idea of a holiday spirit beginning to kick in.

Kevin brought us safely to our destination at the beautiful Settler Sands. I knew these next few days would be jam packed and that we had a lot to explore.

Checking in to our stunning unit, we had all of the comforts right there and immediately felt at home with the added benefit of a beautiful sea view and fresh ocean breeze.

With the Sparkling Kowie River right on our doorstep flowing into the ocean, I had started daydreaming of rowing along the stretch of the river with the view of beautiful boats and the sunlight opening up onto the horizon. Keryn from Outdoor Focus will offer a 10% discount to our Settler Sands Guests on all her activities on offer. What a delight that would be. However my Kyaking on the Kowie River daydreams where on hold, I was on a mission to find out what was made up of this quaint town.

 

What stood out the most apart from checking in to the most beautiful resort, or the beautiful beach and river views, were the people. Kevin was well known and not a single person walked by without stopping to say hello with a bright smile on their face. This was truly a friendly and welcoming town. I can clearly see why.

 

Before I knew it, it was time for dinner. We headed off to the Highlander pub at the St Andrews hotel. The Building hosted memories from the original building built in 1924, just in time for the visit of the Prince of Wales whom actually stayed together with his entourage in the St Andrews hotel. The hotel at that time was a small building and during the last war, housed officers of the 43 air school.

The service, atmosphere and dinner were top notch and set the mood with the history of the building.  A recommendation to take a tour of the building and be amazed by its structure and vintage antiques.

After a lovely evening at the Highlander Pub we headed back to Settlers Sand to retire for the evening as I knew the following day would be jam packed.

And with that said, my alarm went off the next morning to get me on my feet and power charge through the day. There was talk of a giant pineapple, a museum and a visit to many age old pubs. Today was going to be great, I just knew it.  

We headed to Port Alfred River and Ski Boat club for a fabulous breakfast. I could not restrain myself from snapping photographs of the fish replicas and of the many fishermen who have taken pride in displaying their trophy catches on the walls over the years. This was quite a scene to see. Our Settler Sands guests are in for a treat as they will offer club prices on food and drinks when they present their room key.

With breakfast ticked off the list, I had a craving of a different kind. Pineapples. I had yet to see for myself how big this pineapple really was. So off we went to curb my craving.

Along the way towards

Bathurst, what is known as frontier town, established by these 1820 settlers on the edge of the newly founded Cape Colony.  I was amazed at how easily accessible and beautiful the journey to our destinations where.

From a distance, I spotted a pineapple. Yes it’s just a pineapple but as we drove closer the pineapple got bigger and bigger until I was completely sold. The giant pineapple exists and to my surprise, I could get into it and walk to the top. Lyn was proud to find some pineapple preserves named after her which added to the memories of our trip.  Along the way to the top, each floor had an information hub about pineapples. Everything pineapple related, it was really an interesting experience. When I reached the top, I looked below and found that we were surrounded by pineapple plantations. It was spectacular to see.

We also popped into the Bathurst agricultural museum which held agricultural farming history, some dating back to the British settlers.

I was in awe of the museum contents, Lyn and Kevin stood back and let me run wild with curiosity much to their surprise. It was amazing to see the antiques and tools used many years ago. I have a deep love for museums and vintage equipment. This was a real treat for me.   

With my curious eye satisfied, we headed into the heart of Bathurst.  I had a feeling that this too was a town rich with history and tales that have been shared over many camp fire. The buildings of Bathurst where incredible and housed so many historic moments. St Johns church was one of them. It was built in 1820. Whilst still under construction, it served as a refuge for during the war in 1832 and a fort in 1835, serving again as a refuge between 1846 and 1847.

 

 

As time flew by and the day almost over we just had enough time to visit the historic Pig and whistle Inn in Bathurst.  The inn was established in 1832 and also the oldest continuously licenced pub in the country. I felt honoured to be able to explore these buildings that I had no idea of such beauty and a story behind its existence. This was truly an experience.

To end off our adventure, we had the most delectable dinner at the Wharf Street Brew Pub, a beautiful cosy spot with a menu to tantalise your taste buds in every way imaginable. A firm favourite in my books for this happily returning customer. Not only was their food amazing but they are offering a 10% discount off the food bill for Settler Sands Guests presenting their room key. Now that’s a bargain. 

The day had been whisked away by countless attractions that I only wished time could stand still.

I had wished to visit Kidd’s beach for some boogy boarding and drifting in the river currents as well as dune boarding up on Mpekweni river mouth. It seemed as though my bucket list continued to grow. With each destination I venture into, a piece of my heart gets stolen by these little town wonders of our Beautiful South Africa leaving me wanting to come back for more.

 

 

 

Here are some great offerings to keep in mind when you make that next great escape at Settler Sands

Let’s go Cruises

Offering a discount to all our guests, on presentation of the unit keys when booking.

The cruise is 1.5 hours and guests can take their own Drinks and snacks

 The boat can be booked out for private use, but must be over 15 people

 Current rate is R80 for adults and R50 for kids – with a 10% discount

Let’s go Tours and Shuttles

They offer a shuttle to PE airport daily – 8:00 am departure from Port Alfred and leave airport at about 2:00pm

R250 one way per person – if booking the entire shuttle, the cost is then R200 per person.

 

Outdoor Focus

Offering a 10% discount to our guests on offered activities upon showing your room keys

 www.outdoorfocus-marine.co.za


Summerhill experience - Shirley

Sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight to George to meet up with Lyn and be apart a real Plettenberg bay experience. The excitement was interrupted by numerous flight delays which was finally resolved by actually climbing on another flight. Nothing could stop my plan to get to Plettenberg Bay not even a flight delays. I was on a mission.

Whilst mid-air with some time on my hands, I sat thinking, what would there be to do besides spend some time on Plett’s immaculate beach and soak up some sun? Boy was I in for a surprise!

Arriving in George at a cute little airport after being welcomed by happy smiles and a general air of friendly atmosphere, I immediately felt at ease. Waiting long hours after my unplanned delays, Lyn was relieved to see me arriving safely. We headed straight for our hired vehicle and headed off to Summerhill. I was in awe at the breathtakingly beautiful route in which we travelled. The Wilderness was absolutely amazing and flourishing with nature.       

We then entered Knysna and all I had on my mind was oysters as the festival between the 1st and 10th July, something I had definitely added on my to-do list in future. In the heart of Knysna, driving along Main road I spotted the most beautiful church I had ever seen. It made me want to get married again but at that very church. The architecture was dated back to 1848, it was a real treat to be able to get out of the car and photograph the astonishing building and take in the masterpiece that it was.

With limited time, we had to head back to the car and continue on our way to Summerhill. The one and a half hour trip felt much shorter than it was purely due to the scenic route in which we had taken. There was nothing quite like it.

We finally arrived at Summerhill and was warmly welcomed by our lovely Fransa Bester who is the resort manager. She was an absolute star and made sure we were comfortable and settled in. Fransa made us feel at home along with her amazing hospitality, she was kind enough to arrange beautiful weather and an award winning sun set. Our guests must definitely love it here..                                                                                             

The units where perfect in every way and had everything we needed, it was definitely a home away from home. The first thing I did was open the window of my bedroom and was greeted by an absolutely stunning sunset and engulfed by the smell of the ocean. I could not believe how amazing the view was and was excited to eventually later that evening, fall asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing upon the shore.

We then headed off to dinner and found a beautiful restaurant right on the beach called the Lookout. The atmosphere was perfect and the food was outstanding. It was a perfect combination of fresh ocean air and tantalizing seafood.  Food good enough to photograph and frame on your wall.

After a relaxing evening we headed back to Summerhill, Driving uphill, Fransa’ s car had decided to retire for the evening as well much to our surprise. I started to think that even the cars here where laid back and relaxed as everyone living in this town was. Luckily after a few shakes, Fransa’s car warmed up and took us safely home. The evening did not fail on entertainment and so we headed straight to our rooms to recharge our batteries for yet another jam packed day.

Waking up extra early meant having more time to fit everything we had planned in, I do wish we had more time as there was so much to experience and little time to do it all. After the most comfortable night sleep, we were relaxed and ready to go. We managed to fit in a lovely breakfast at the courtyard café which was within walking distance of Summerhill. They have the best cuppachino’s I have ever had. You have to try the Greek Kourabiethes. After receiving one with my cuppachino I found myself buying a whole box to take back home with me.

With our batteries fully charged we headed to Monkey land along Garden Route.

I could not believe how majestic monkey land was; it was truly a special experience. All sorts of monkey’s roaming freely across your feet and swinging above you, something spectacular to see and experience. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and humorous which made the tour that extra bit memorable. There were 550 primates in the multi species sanctuary. The children on the tour with us where mesmerised by the experience as much as I was. It was extremely educational and fun.

We then continued to Jukani, a predator sanctuary, rescued and protected from hunting and other dangers. We were provided with another knowledgeable guide which made the tour a breeze. His knowledge of the rescued predators was informative and educational. We were able to see White lions, Siberian Tigers , Jaguars and many more including Wild Dogs , Hyenas and Jackals to name a few. The wildlife could roam free in their natural habitat and be cared for by the sanctuary. This warmed my heart as they have saved these animals from harm.

We approached the snake conservation towards the end of the tour and I was very intrigued. Lyn and Fransa had made a beeline for the exit and disappeared. I could not believe how fast time had flown by, there was still so much to do and I was beginning to wish I could have spent more than a week here, I had a long list of things I wanted to experience but it was evident that a few days was not enough at all. Note to self – bring along more charged batteries for my camera.

Our last part of the tour was to visit the Birds of Eden. I had lost count of how many beautiful and charming birds we had encountered. Some of them where very tame and others preferred to display their beauty from a distance. We encountered the 1.2km walkway which made us feel as if we were in a tropical rain forest with colourful birds at every angle. There were 3500 previously caged birds which now had a life to fly free and allow guests to adore their beauty. This was a spectacular experience.

e stopped for a delicious late lunch at the Bird of Eden Restaurant to sit back and absorb everything we had seen and reflect on the day. Walking back to the car after the most breath-taking sightings of that day, I was starting think that I didn’t once visit the beach! We had so much to do and I realised that there was more than just the beach at Plettenberg bay, not to mention Garden Route and Knysna as well. On the drive back, I mentally added everything I have yet to do on to my bucket list such as the Knysna Elephant Park, Knysna Sandboarding, Plett Puzzle Park, Cango Caves and Knynsa Kayaking. 

We arrived back at Summerhill to freshen up and get ready for dinner at LM, a Mozambican restaurant famous for its succulent prawns and seafood. Whilst getting ready, I had to stop for a moment and photograph the most gorgeous sunset kissing the ocean. A photograph alone cannot express the beautiful view from my bedroom window. Summerhill is perfectly positioned to absorb the amazing ocean views. It was then when I decided that Summerhill will always be on my bucket list no matter how many times I return. It was that magical.

The following morning we were up early to get ready to depart, Lyn and I where rather sad to leave as we enjoyed the little time we had there. I have left with an urge to return and spend as much time as I possibly can with my family so that I may share these experiences with them and that they may join me in ticking off my bucket list of things to do there. Summerhill was beautiful, neat and extremely comfortable. I loved the idea that you could walk to the coffee shops and restaurants from the resort and feel safe doing so. Everything was easily accessible. The residents are very friendly and warmly welcome you wherever you go.

What have I taken with me from my experience? A few days is not sufficient to experience all of the activities on offer, next time I will be going for 10 days and I will use 1 day to visit the beach.

The remaining 9 are reserved for my bucket list.

By Shirley Van Zyl Ayvazyan