Boy, when I fall in love, I fall hard.
This was the view from my balcony in the house I rented in Knysna.
Now I’m the kind of guy who, when I get to a new place, I drop bags and head out on the town exploring. Most of the time, I’m looking for a mid-grade hotel that’s clean, safe, and centrally located – I don’t care if there’s a spa or a view, because I’m not going to be there much anyway.
And then I arrived at this house in Knysna. And I fell in love…
How could this be, I wondered to myself. I love the crowded subways of Tokyo and Hong Kong and London, the noise of scooters & street vendors in Vietnam, the sidewalk cafes of Paris that are so cramped it’s hard to open your newspaper. And Knysna – a town of a 51,000 people, a town with no McDonald’s or even Nando’s, a town with a slow pace – became my new love.
For one of the few times in my life, I settled into the house, and sat on the balcony. For over an hour. Just enjoying the view.
Of course, I haven’t completely changed who I am, so I began to do a little exploring.
I first visited Knysna on a stopover in 2015 – arrived at night, slept, had brunch, and headed to my next destination. It seemed like a nice town then, but I didn’t get to see much.
I headed over to the supermarket, picked up a bottle of wine and some snacks, and headed back to the house, until the sunset.
There are quite a few good restaurants in Knysna, but earlier I had driven by the sign for a restaurant named “34 South,” after Knysna’s geographic location (34 degrees south of the equator), advertising “OYSTERS! OYSTERS! OYSTERS!” Knysna is rather famous for its Oysters, and every year in July the Oyster Festival is held. And although I’m not a big oyster fan, one of my traveling companions was, so I knew it would be a hit.
Day one ended with a relaxing glass of wine back and a few bites of biltong at the house…
Breakfast was at the newly rebuilt Île de Pain (The Island of Bread) on Thesen Island in the middle of the Knysna Lagoon.
A fire destroyed the restaurant in May of 2015, but the owners have rebuilt and reopened the restaurant in November of 2016. It’s an awesome place to start your day, with great pastries and a full breakfast menu. The breakfasts aren’t huge…and I suspect they do this so you can indulge with a pastry on the side without overindulging.
We made our way back to the Knysna Quays waterfront area and did a little souvenir shopping – heck, I’m still a tourist! – but considering there aren’t a ton of shops, an hour or so is a reasonable amount of time to spend there (if you’re not eating.)
Off to Plettenberg Bay…
Plettenberg Bay, or “Plett” as it’s known to those-in-the-know, is a great little beach town. The drive is along a 2 lane stretch of the N2, but I always found drivers to be friendly and pull over if they were holding up traffic.
The beautiful beaches are one of the biggest draws in Plett, and there’s a great restaurant / bar called The Lookout Deck with views that go great with a beer!
After a relaxing couple of hours in Plett, I returned to Knysna, to visit the Knysna Heads.
The Heads are the very narrow entrance to Knysna Lagoon from the ferocious Indian Ocean. The local newspaper, Knysna-Plett Herald, said it best back in a 2013 article:
The Knysna Heads passage is one of the ten most dangerous in the world, and Lloyds of London refused to provide insurance coverage on ships passing through it in the late 19th and early 20th Century. South African Navy officers believe that a man (or woman) is not truly a captain until he has taken his ship through the Knysna Heads, … twice! It is truly a spectacle worthy of viewing.
The viewpoint is easy to reach by car and has no vendors, no shops, just a few benches and some of the most amazing scenery.
After the sightseeing, we headed back to the house to enjoy some more gorgeous views, with a glass of wine, and waited again for the sunset to head out to dinner.
Dinner was, of course more oysters, with a great fillet at a restaurant called Dry Dock. Awesome food and great service.
Day Three in Knysna was a sad day – not only was it my last day in Knysna, it was my last day on vacation. And I knew a 39 hour trip home was awaiting me… However, I didn’t want that to ruin my last day there!
I had read that the East Head Cafe had great breakfasts, and although I visited the Heads the day before, I wanted to check out this breakfast place. It didn’t disappoint. Unlike the viewpoint I visited the day before, the restaurant was at the lower part of the heads, right next to the water. The views from the inside weren’t half bad either!
The meals are simple – I had the pork belly benedict, which was pretty good, and very reasonably priced.
We took a look at the Heads one more time, and I got soaked when a tide came in and splashed up against some rocks.
From there, it was time to head back to the house to pick up our belongings, and begin our drive to the airport in George. One flight to Johannesburg, another to London, another to Los Angeles, and finally the one to home in Las Vegas. It was a long day, falling in and out of sleep on all those flights, and all I could think about was the beautiful town and the beautiful house that I had fallen in love with.
Knysna, I’ll be back!This entry was posted in Africa, South Africa