A quick escape to Stanley Island on the Garden Route

Posted on 4 March 2024

Across the Bitou River, just outside Plettenberg Bay lies an unexpected gem on the Keurbooms River: Stanley Island.

Upon arrival just off the N2, you can find the jetty which will have you believing that not much more awaits. But brace yourself to be astounded by the calm waters of the Keurbooms River.

Upon arrival, warm staff are sent on a ferry to find and welcome you, assist with your luggage and take you on a quick, yet scenic ride to the island. The scene reminds me of the Netflix series, Ozark, with real-life tiny homes on water. Some of the houseboats look like they have been there for decades, while many are pretty modern.

As we pass, we see a couple more being renovated and I’m guessing by the end of the year, we’ll see much more modern houseboats that the Tiny House Nation team might even feature in an episode.

tiny modern houseboat stanley island

Image credit: Marian Volkwyn

Upon arrival at Stanley Island, the friendly staff welcomes us and takes us through a green-arched pathway that leads us to our accommodation: Acacia – a white cottage, pristinely decorated thanks to the interior design expertise of Megan Stanley and her sister, Sharon Stanley.

Stanley Island features three accommodation offerings:

Shorea – a wood that is features extensively in this particular lodge. This lodge pays homage to David Stanley, the grandfather of Megan and Sharon, and the man who essentially used his craftsmanship to build the lodge.

Acacia – which is an iconic South African thorn bush (the lodge we visited and coincidently the name of my childhood street), pays tribute to the Stanley family’s Karoo family farm. The Acacia Lodge pays homage to the grandmother of Megan and Sharon, Barbara Stanley, an iconic South African skier who currently owns the island.

Elegia – or the Cape Thatch Reeds. As there is only one more thatched roof left on the island after the refurbishments, this lodge speaks to the foundations of the island and how their journey started. This lodge also pays homage to Dani, the mother of Megan and Sharon.

Besides the rich history of the family-owned lodging, Stanley Island offers the perfect escape into nature. Enjoy private access to the Keurbooms River by boat included in the lodge booking, you can take the day to explore the Keurbooms River Nature Reserve by ski boat.

Stop for some sundowners within the shady creeks of the river or a little afternoon dip with other visitors to the island. The scene was so serene and idyllic, it could easily be confused with a boat trip in Thailand or Vietnam.

view from Stanley Island boat ride

Image credit: Marian Volkwyn

One of the highlights of this particular trip was waking up to breakfast delivered straight to our doorstep, fresh from Stanley Island’s restaurant kitchen. We set up breakfast on the balcony and to our surprise, we had an unexpected visit from the island’s popularized zebras, who calmly walked on by to their watering holes. It was a picturesque experience that many visitors delight in and one I would definitely never forget.

zebras at Stanley Island

Image credit: Marian Volkwyn

Book your stay at Stanley Island for an unforgettable encounter with Mother Nature.

Article written by Marian Volkwyn for Womna&Home.

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