We sent our professional reviewer to discover the best weekend breaks in Paternoster – here’s her pick of where to stay in the West Coast’s prettiest fishing village.
Apologies in advance for any overuse of words such as spectacular, glorious, fabulous, stunning, mesmerising ‒ it’s hard to avoid these when describing Paternoster’s views. A wind and sun-lashed bay, its long beaches lapped by an icy aquamarine Atlantic, Paternoster’s strict building regulations have resulted in a dense cluster of simple whitewashed dwellings, making it by far the prettiest village on the West Coast.
The case for Paternoster
One of the oldest fishing villages in the country, Paternoster’s economy is still somewhat supported by fishing, and famous for its crayfish, but tourism now far outstrips any other income. Parts can become a ghost town in winter but Paternoster’s development ‒ encompassing and growing around the original local residents ‒ saves it from being some twee Disneyesque village, and is a refreshing change from the geo-spatial post-apartheid separation of communities that continues to plague contemporary SA. That said, the contrast between affluent holidaymakers and a struggling resident population is stark.
There are a number of excellent B&Bs, two great hotels (Abalone and Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel), but it’s in the self-catering category that you are really spoilt for choice. The two biggest agents ‒ Stay in Paternoster and Paternoster Rentals ‒ offer more than 130 unique houses between them. Both offer a great service. With Stay in Paternoster, a small contribution from every booking goes to Paternoster People’s Partnership, a community project. Check out some restaurants in Paternoster while on your visit.
Paternoster is a bargain in winter, and most houses have a fireplace or two. In summer, weekdays are also often discounted.
Worth a note
Paternoster is laidback, but it’s worth remembering to take the usual precautions around the safety of your property.
1. As it is in Heaven
Best six-bedroom beachfront home
Enjoying an elevated location right on the southern edge of Bekbaai, this is Paternoster’s quietest stretch of beach, and the views from here really are quite heavenly. Aside from location, the house offers a rare benefit: the six en-suite bedrooms are not only fairly similar in size but all, bar one, share the same lovely sea view, so divvying up bedrooms within the family or group of friends is very easy. Like most modern Paternoster beachfront houses, there is easy indoor-outdoor flow with fold-and-slide doors creating one huge space that leads from the open-plan kitchen-dining-living area to the terrace with a plunge pool. Best bit? All children, including the four-legged kind, are welcome in this heaven.
Room tip: The person who gets the
only room without a sea view should earn
a free pass on washing dishes.
Cost: From R5 000 (sleeps 12). Serviced on weekdays.
2. The oystercatcher’s haven
Best small B&B
TripAdvisor No. 5 of 17 B&B/Inn
Just four rooms ‒ each furnished in eclectic boho style and with a private entrance and veranda to enjoy those glorious sea views ‒ means you share the communal lounge and dining area with only eight guests. Breakfast is served on your veranda if you prefer, and the intimacy and privacy enjoyed here is very conducive to romance. Located on the southern edge of the village, right on the quietest beach in Paternoster (adjoining the Columbine Nature Reserve), it’s also very peaceful. A plunge pool on the lip of the property enjoys perfect sundowner views; in winter the fire place in the lounge is always lit. Restaurant bookings and the like are handled by warm and welcoming manageress Sarah Msiza, who is aptly described as a real gem by happy guests.
Room tip: Room 2 has the largest balcony,
but book any of the upstairs rooms
(2/3/4). Ask for Room 1 if you want
a bath rather than a shower.
Cost: From R1 850 for two sharing B&B.
3. Ceol Na Mara
Best-Value Small Beachfront Home
Most of the beachfront houses are built to accommodate large groups ‒ if you’re a family of four looking for a house right on the beach and want to spend less than R500 per person (even less if you are five or six!) then Ceol na Mara is it from mid-January to mid-December. It’s a compact house with a kitchen-dining-lounge area opening onto the small garden which leads directly onto Voorstrandt beach. The lounge is a light-filled double-volume space; above the kitchen is the small main bedroom ‒ this has a tiny shower room and, opposite, a door opening onto a sunset balcony with four bar chairs where the UK-based owners like to toast the setting sun.
Room tip: A sleeper couch in the lounge means the house can, in fact, accommodate six. (If you’re looking for another two-bedroom bargain, I’d also look at Sonkwassie in ‘Worth a Look’ below.)
Cost: From R1 900 (sleeps six).
4. Le Chaim House
Best three-bedroom beachfront home
This three-bedroom house is located directly on Bekbaai beach, and vies with As It Is In Heaven as the best-looking self-catering house available on this quieter southern stretch of Paternoster’s coast. Spaces are cool, uncluttered and very spacious, with plenty of the distressed-timber furniture that has become such a popular beach-house look. The L-shaped kitchen-dining-living area opens onto the terrace with spectacular views, and a few strides takes you directly onto the beach. Hardly surprising, it’s very, very popular.
Room tip: The master bedroom, the biggest in Paternoster, includes a study area and, of course, spectacular views.
Cost: From R3 250 (sleeps six). Note that you can sleep eight if you book Le Chaim Cottage (from R950), attached to the main house by an interleading door. Kids aged 12 and up are welcome.
Best Romantic Bolthole (and party venue)
TripAdvisor No.2 of 13 Speciality Lodging
I didn’t think an option located so far from the beach (it’s a short drive to the village and beach) would make the final selection but these two artsy Karoo-style cottages (Nog ‘n Gelukkie and Klein Gelukkie, part of the Gelukkie wedding and function venue) are just too delightful to miss. Spacious and very private, each with its own landscaped garden, both offer a complete escape from the world, particularly in winter, when you can light a huge fire and hole up for the whole weekend. Spring and autumn days you can while away lounging on the swinging al fresco double beds, but come the really hot months you will, however, need to take a drive to the beach.
Room tip: Nog ‘n Gelukkie, located at the back of the farm, is more private.
Cost: From R850 for each cottage (both sleep two).
6. Strandloper ocean boutique hotel
Best boutique hotel
TripAdvisor No.3 of 17 B&B/Inn
When Deon Brand and Simone Jacke opened their unostentatious, yet supremely elegant, refuge in December 2011, they raised the style bar in the village quite considerably, and created an ambience that is almost preternaturally soothing. The hotel is tucked away on a prime Mosselbank location right at the northern edge of the village, and the couple purchased a further three kilometres of the coast to protect the untrammelled views and halt further development. It’s listed as a B&B on TripAdvisor, but Strandloper is very much a boutique hotel, offering a full spectrum of pampering to guests in just 14 rooms, five of which enjoy fabulous beach and ocean views. Equally arresting are the two enormous Nature King Suites with their floor-to-ceiling views of the West Coast plains stretching northwards. Even the six Courtyard Rooms, each with private courtyard and water feature, won’t disappoint, nor will the food, the spa treatments, the enormous pool, or service standards, which are spot on. A stay is worth every cent.
Room tip: The most spacious Ocean Suite is Delphin; the best Courtyard Room (it has a Nature King Suite view) is Selena.
Cost: From R2 050 for two sharing B&B. The Nature King Suites take kids aged 14 and up in the loft for R800 per child.
Best value large beachfront house
Most of the houses on the wide curve of beach that runs north from Voorstrandt restaurant to Long Beach are built to accommodate eight guests comfortably (Ceol na Mara being a rare exception). Of these, five made my short list (see ‘Worth a Look’ below), but Driftwood easily trumped the contenders thanks to a happy combination of great style and value for money. Owned and designed by architect and designer Paul Versfeld, it shows, and because it can sleep up to 10, the rate is only R340 ‒ R400 per person. Given the phenomenal beachfront location in one of the most popular coastal villages in South Africa, you are looking at a real bargain. The fact that it’s pet friendly is the final clincher.
Room tip: There are three double rooms downstairs, of which the best has the sea view. The large upstairs master bedroom has two single beds, so it’s ideal for a couple with young children.
Cost: From R3 400 (sleeps 10).
Best classic beach house
8. Beach hut
Tongue-in-cheek name aside (beautifully maintained, the house is by no means a hut!) this is an understated beach classic ‒ white wicker and timber, every shade of blue, plenty of stripes ‒ with luxuries like the Charlotte Rhys toiletries and a kitchen perfectly equipped and positioned for cooking while entertaining. It’s located on the same strip of prime beachfront that Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel and Langstrand share, so has the same fabulous sea and veld views but is angled to ensure guests feel secluded and have privacy. It’s hard to fault this delightful house; one is only too glad the owners are prepared to share!
Room tip: The main bedroom has the best view and an outdoor shower. There is an additional two-bedroom annexe (a clever renovation of the garage).
Cost: R5 000 per night (sleeps 10). Kids aged 12 and over welcome.
Worth a look
9. La Baleine has the best view in a village of superlative views from its four Seafront Houses in the La Baleine Collection, of which De Drommedaris and De Goede Hoop are top choices. From R1 995 per night. labaleine.co.za.
10. The Cottage Collection, on roads set back from the beach, is also worth looking into. From R1 180 per night. thecottagecollection.co.za. Both collections are pet friendly.
11. Bo Sig is a beachfront house on Bekbaai that comprises three separate self-catering units of which Bo Sig 3, the two- bedroom upstairs unit, is by far the best for privacy and views. From R1 900 per night. paternosterrentals.co.za
12. Ah! is another fabulous B&B with just five luxury rooms, each individually decorated with real flair. The house is filled with interesting objets and artworks picked up by the talented owners over the years, and has a sophisticated globetrotting clientele. A chef’s table dinner is sometimes on offer. From R1 150 double B&B. ahguesthouse.com
13. Kinsale is set back slightly from the beach but this terraced building still enjoys magnificent sea views and is a decadent option for a couple who like their space ‒ there is also an additional bedroom with separate entrance if you want to play host. From R950 for two. stayinpaternoster.co.za
14. Sonkwassie is a rustic authentic fisherman’s cottage with a long kitchen-dining table in front of the large open hearth and two simply furnished bedrooms. On Sonkwas Road with unobstructed beach and sea views, this is a real bargain. From R1 100 per night. stayinpaternoster.co.za.
15. Dunesberry is not on the beach but a few minutes’ stroll away; surrounded by a small but well- tended garden, and with a lovely sheltered courtyard, this two-bedroom house is a tranquil sanctuary. From R1 050 per night. stayinpaternoster.co.za
16. Die Kom is the densest residential area in the village. Each of the 27 fisherman-styled sectional-title cottages sleeps six, and many of them are for rent. The best are located on the narrow beachfront lane (though it’s worth noting this stretch of beach is very busy in peak season): Na Genoeg, Twalap and Dankbaar are the best in the front. From R1 800 per night. stayinpaternoster.co.za
17. Hannah is another gem. From R2 150 per night. Visit their Facebook page for more information on bookings.
18. Djis Tjil is a contemporary house with great flow to the view-facing deck with a fab plunge pool and located right on Voorstrandt beach. Sleeps eight; from R1 780 per night
for two. djistjil.co.za
19. Aqua Blue is also right on Voorstrandt beach, but this is an old-fashioned thatched house with sash windows that will suit those looking for a farm-style beach house. From R2 400 per night. paternosterrentals.co.za
20. Sandpiper is another contemporary beach- front house; well decorated and right on Voorstrandt beach. From R2 500 per night. stayinpaternoster.co.za
21. Hokaai won’t win any style awards but is a comfortable no-frills beachfront option. From R2 350 per night. stayinpaternoster.co.za
22. Zula Beach House is adjacent to Beach Hut so enjoys the same fantastic location and views but can sleep between 10 and 12 people (if you take the cottage), and ‒ happy days ‒ welcomes children and pets. From R6 000 per night. zulabeachhouse.co.za
This article was first published in the March 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.
All prices correct at publication, but are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please check with them before booking or buying.