Heavenly Seaside Havens

by Jared
 * This article first appeared here in the Saturday Citizen

With summer far from over, travel journalist Jared Ruttenberg took a group of friends to enjoy three coastal stays near Cape Town – all private villas, and ideal for  exclusive friend or family escapes.

Benguela Cove

In July this year, celebrations resounded from Walker Bay, as relative newcomer Benguela Cove, graced the World’s Best Vineyards Top 100 list for 2023. After a short 60-minute drive from Cape Town, myself and six friends arrived with a heady sense of anticipation. Off the bat of the recent good news, we immediately hopped aboard an open vehicle for a Vineyard Tour, led by our friendly guide, Maca.

The two-hour experience gave us a great introduction to Benguela Cove, and it includes five interactive tasting stops en route. The adventure through the vineyards also take in a string of beautiful homes that dot the ridges and shoreline of the estate-one of these, Ocean’s Away, was to be our  10-sleeper home for the next three days.

The villa features expansive glass windows, offering uninterrupted views of the Benguela Cove landscape: lagoon, ocean, mountain, and vineyard are all allowed to shine. Two fireplaces, a sauna, a garden courtyard and a large pool deck offer ample space for relaxation and entertaining.

We lapped up the luxury of our villa taking turns to cook up a storm, but on our second evening, the lure of Benguela Cove’s Moody Lagoon Restaurant was too strong, and we had to submit. Languishing beside the huge fireplace, we devoured the burgers, risotto, and vegan dishes that graced our table, sipping the wine we tasted the day before.

Speaking of wine… The Benguela Cove Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are as delectable as those in the nearby Hemel-en-aarde region. The former has recently been awarded a very impressive 97/100 from the Trophy Wine Show 2023. Even the entry-level Lighthouse Sauvignon Blanc has a depth and generous mouthfeel worth more than its value of R120 a bottle. The winner in my estimation, was the Joie De Vivre Cap Classique with an impressive 36 months on the lees developing an impressive flavour profile.

For keen winos, the cellar tour offers an in-depth look at the estate’s wine production – or opt to join one of the wine blending sessions where you can take home your own bottle as keepsake from what proved to be a very dazzling destination. benguelacove.co.za

Coral Villa, Paternoster

Shifting to the West Coast, Paternoster has a relative newcomer to her shores. Coral Villa, which forms part of the collection of Gonana Guest House offerings, has three bedrooms (two placed upstairs)  a large central living area – ideal for friends or family gatherings. Coral Villa exudes homeliness, with original furniture adding to the laid-back feel.

The back garden sports a hot tub for winter, sun loungers, and outdoor showers. The front porch opens onto the street adding to the sense of village bonhomie – and has ocean views along with the braai set in the garden. Three studios on the back of the property can be rented separately or incorporated in the overall rental – increasing the property to a 14-sleeper.

The villa is a mere one-minute drive from Gonana Guest House itself, where we had access to the pool, a hearty breakfast in the morning when we felt too lazy to cook, and direct beach access and ocean views.

The burgeoning village of Paternoster now offers a selection of enticing activities. We began with the WoW Ebike Tour and cycled through the village and along the beach itself – expertly led by capable guides, only too happy to impart their local knowledge. Next, we explored the bays with Kayak Paternoster and met some of the local marine life, including penguins, dolphins and even whales. Lastly, wine tastings, 24 vinos by the glass with tempting platters are served up in the classy Paternoster Wine Lounge. gonanaguesthouse.com

Hypnotic Beach House

Lastly, a little further along the West Coast, one of its lesser-known gems is Britannia Bay. Cool, gentle waters await, along with a seven-kilometre stretch of beach, and a procession of homes built directly onto the shoreline.  Except for a short walk to the tuck shop for bare necessities, Britannia Bay has no stores or restaurants. This is where you come to put away the car keys and soak in the ocean therapy – the reason why I return to the village every year to celebrate my birthday.

Hypnotic Beach House was this year’s choice – and where we were hypnotised by the constant presence of the ocean, literally meters away from the house and always in earshot. Sharing a love for Britannia Bay, owner Elaine told me: “It felt like finding a secret haven where time slows down and every sunset/sunrise paints a masterpiece on the horizon. An intense pull made me envision a home here, a space where family bonds would grow stronger amid the backdrop of nature’s splendour.”

From every window, the azure blue tones of the West Coast waters were in full frontal view, and stepping out onto the veranda, a visa that money simply cannot buy.

Hypnotic has four bedrooms downstairs (one as a separate cottage), and an open plan lounge, dining space and kitchen upstairs, including a garden and outdoor braai. With the never-ending beach being a major attraction, look out in the early mornings for the Common Dolphins that are usually spotted racing along the building waves. They’ll often stop for a little playtime, and you’ll be able to observe them safely from inside the water or paddle out for a closer look.

Elaine reminded me that for anyone wanting a longer but ever-so-scenic walk “Hypnotic Beach House serves as a gateway to a mesmerizing 20km walk to Paternoster, inviting anyone to explore the coastline’s charm at their own pace.” Available on booking.com

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