Plettenberg Bay wouldn’t be considered your average weekend trip away when you live in Joburg, but with direct flights with CemAir and so much on the go in the Garden Route, it’s time y’all start thinking about it!
Recently, Alessio and I headed down to the Garden Route for an escape from the city, a little bit of the Winelands and some seaside viewing. I have obviously never considered Plett as a weekend getaway simply because it’s too far to drive, but with CemAir’s direct flights into Plettenberg Bay out of OR Tambo International Airport, there’s no reason to discount it.
It felt rather like flying a private jet to Plettenberg Bay with CemAir.
Arriving in Plettenberg Bay on a Friday afternoon is an immediate de-stress. The pace is obviously slower and just the sight of the sea is always a welcome relief at the end of a busy work week. We drove straight to Bramon Wine Estate just outside of Plettenberg Bay to grab some tapas-style lunch and taste their bubbly.
Wines of Plettenberg Bay
As a wine-making area, Plettenberg Bay is still very young at only a few years old, but the wines coming out of here are quickly being recognised as exceptional. Recently, more and more of the estates are offering tasting experiences, right now though Bramon is the most established and is also now known for the fact that the have tables placed in between the vines. I can tell you from experience that this is an awesome vibe to be amongst the leafy vines, just remember to book as those tables go first in summer!
Tapas dining at Bramon Wine Estate.
Bramon also has a lovely pinotage worth tasting, it’s a little pricey at around R110 per bottle (in my opinion) but in time it’s going to become an exceptional wine. Opposite Bramon, you’ll find Newstead Wines, I believe this is another great stop, but unfortunately it was closed when we swung past.
Where we stayed
Our home for the weekend was The Plettenberg. This small boutique hotel is overlooking the town to it’s left and the ocean on it’s right. It’s also where you’ll find some of the most exceptional sunrises in South Africa. It’s a wonderfully comfortable hotel and removed from whatever could be considered bustle in Plettenberg Bay.
Our room at The Plettenberg. credit: Alessio La Ruffa.
The view from our room. credit: Alessio La Ruffa.
Sunrise from The Plettenberg, not a joke and not edited this colour. credit: Alessio La Ruffa.
The best part of The Plettenberg has to be its restaurant, SeaFood. This fine dining experience is focused on the local flavours of the sea and whatever can be sourced seasonally and locally. We tasted both the canapé menu (hello tiny everything), and then enjoyed a full meal on our second night. Both were amazing, and both felt like a real celebration of the area and good food.
What to do in Plettenberg Bay
I’m going to recommend three other things to do in Plettenberg Bay, but to be honest I hated the third and we’ll get to that in a bit.
A ring-tailed lemur at Monkeyland. credit: Alessio La Ruffa.
The first is Monkeyland. Now, I am vehemently against any sort of animal interaction for profit and this stems from the tragic state that is the lion cub petting industry (if you don’t know about this, then please read I stand for #AnimalRightsInTourism. Do you?), so I was a bit concerned about Monkeyland at the outset.
I can categorically now say that Monkeyland is an absolutely incredible place that is focused on looking after its animals and is definitely not looking to profit off of wild animals by allowing tourists to cuddle or pet them.
A squirrel monkey, how sweet?
I absolutely love that you can walk around inside this MASSIVE enclosure, but you can’t touch any of the animals. They may try steal your sunglasses (they are monkeys after all), but it was educational and fun and something I would recommend to anybody going to the area.
The second stop is right next door to Monkeyland – Birds of Eden. Similar to its neighbour, this beautiful aviary is filled with incredible birds in a very natural and lush environment. Some of the parrots were given over by owners who just couldn’t look after them anymore and occasionally you’ll hear something along the lines of ‘hello’ being squawked at you.
The Knysna Loerie, and my favourite shot from the weekend.
The third activity, and the only one I don’t have photos of, is going on a whale watching boat. Now I knew I got seasick before we got on this boat, but Alessio was very keen and I had some tablets to take along. After about an hour though, I wanted to die on board and so did Alessio. We saw some whales nearby, while everybody else was excited, all I wanted was land. At least we have a cute selfie from before we felt like we were going to vomit on the granny sitting in front of us.
So care- and nausea-free.
We went on a whale watching trip with Ocean Blue Adventures, who were absolutely wonderful and I would recommend, pity we were just not made for the sea. A whale watching excursion cost us R700 per person.
Just before sunrise in Plettenberg Bay.
Our flights to Plettenberg Bay were sponsored by CemAir, while our accommodation was courtesy of The Collection by Liz McGrath who I do consulting work for. As with all my pieces, my opinions are my own.