To continue on with the chillax theme of this stretch of the trip, we headed over to the sleepy seaside cottage village of Wilderness. It is about a 10 minute drive from the busy “metropolis” (there aren’t many of them in the southern part of South Africa) of George. It did have a mall though, so we stopped and bought some new books and games at a bookstore, and I got a new pair of running shoes as my Sketchers had come to the end of its life.
We got to our beach side house in the middle of the afternoon, and our host, Nora, was waiting for us. She is (as is stated in a framed biography just inside the front door) an award winning internationally acclaimed artist. And she certainly looked the part as she was dressed head to toe in white flowing dress with one of those fascinator hats that was lipstick red.
That was kind of odd since the whole house was painted white, and the overwhelming majority of the artwork in the house (created by you know who) was white, black, and red. I guess there was a sale on that colour paint. Oh ya, and the furnishings were all in those colours too. Even the cutlery and kitchenware. It was kind of nuts, but it grew on you.
After we unloaded and unpacked, we grabbed as much beach related stuff that we could find in the garage and headed down to the beach to start our beach holiday part 1 (part 2 is in Moorea in January).
(YouTube Video Link to Surfing the Waves in Wilderness: https://youtu.be/AHLK_TuI1xM)
We had obviously outgrown traditional beach toys and sand castle building equipment when the kids grabbed a full on garden shovel and various other big buckets and tools. Before we knew it, the hole was at least three feet deep and equally as wide. Almost to China.
We graduated our sand castle building skills on the last day to build a full sized whale as the tide was coming in. So it was to the point where the whale was actually swimming in the surf that was coming in. It was great kicking around in the sand again, and we all felt like big kids.
The other thing with the beach here was that the waves were seriously huge. Like taller than Wilson, and at times taller than me huge. That could only mean one thing. Amazing body surfing.
So Wilson and I grabbed some boards and started playing in the surf as the waves came rolling into the beach. And then we moved further out. And further out. And then even further out. To the point where we were catching the waves where they were just breaking and we could ride the face of the waves down.
(YouTube Video Link for Wilderness South Africa Surfing: https://youtu.be/9Ldegz3NGnI)
Now, to be totally honest, this happened over the course of our stay there, but none the less, we got to the point where we were out starting close to where the surfers were catching their waves.
This was fine as the bottom of the ocean at Wilderness was completely sandy, with some shells scattered here and there, and the water was super clear and very refreshing. The water temperature probably was about 70F, but when the sun was beating down and we were running around in and out of the water catching the waves, it didn’t feel very cold. Either that or we just got numb. Almost male sex change cold. But we didn’t care.
There was an abundance of marine life along the beach. Most notably, there was a pod of dolphins that was at least 100 strong patrolling the coastline up and down all day long. Sometimes they were no further than 50m from the shore, and were often playing in the surf just meters from where we were bodysurfing.
The reason for this big pod, as we found out from one of the locals, was that there was a mama and a baby Southern Right Whale in the bay as well. They surfaced from time to time, but pretty much were in cognito.
On two occasions, while Wilson and I were surfing, a seal was surfing right beside us. And we didn’t even have to pay for a special tour in some marine life reserve! This was waaaay better.
Every morning and every evening as the sun performed its magnificent ascent and descent, there were a number of fishermen out on the beach with super long poles casting out into the ocean. We couldn’t imagine what they were trying to catch as we didn’t see much in the way of fish in the area…until the last day.
The guy next door to us was a fisherman and he said that they could easily pull in the local variety of fish that could weigh upwards of 70kg. Yup. 144 pounds. Two Lulu’s worth. Yikes!
Deb and Lulu were up on the deck playing Bananagrams after we had just come up from the beach when they saw one of the fishermen pull in a baby Hammerhead Shark! When we talked to him afterwards, he said that it was “one in a million”, and “never has he caught one before”…despite him telling me that he catches them all the time when I went down to the beach to talk to him. According to him, there were also Sand Sharks, but not to worry about them because their mouths are on the bottom of their snout, and they fed off of the snails that trolled along shoreline. Phew…we only had one shark that we had to worry about! Haha…
While we were there, we made most of our meals at the house, but we had to indulge in some of the local fare…. On Ev and Larry’s recommendation, we went out to East Head Café, which was about a 30 minute drive from where we were staying. It was an awesome café tucked into a rocky cove with towering cliffs, and food that was amazing. We came just after the lunch rush, so we could take our time a bit…so, out came the Bananagram tiles, which is rapidly becoming a favorite game (plus educational for spelling and vocabulary!). We also had a great meal at Pomodero’s Italian Eatery which was just down the street from us.
They had wood fired pizzas that were amazing, and I had a pesto pasta (fresh pesto too!) with smoked salmon and peas… we have to try this when we get home as a household favorite is ham and pea linguine….we will have to try adding pesto to this! And making fresh pesto is on my bucket list since we now know how to make fresh pasta!
Thumbs down went to Flava restaurant, despite it getting good reviews on TripAdvisor. We didn’t have a reservation, and we showed up at 6pm. They asked us if we would be done by 7pm, to which we said for sure. However, they totally forgot about us, and we waited over an hour for our meals, so by the end of it all, we didn’t get out of there until 830pm. Oh well, lesson learned and the TripAdvisor review was written by the time we left the restaurant.
Beach time was also a great time to do some people watching. There were some fantastic teenage surfers that came out every day after school to surf for several hours. There were lots of people walking up and down the beach, but not as many people in the water as we would have suspected that there would be for how hot it was.
On the last afternoon that we were there it was a pretty busy people watching day. First off, there was a local couple having a 50 Shades of Grey PDA-grope-fest on the beach with the waves crashing into them. It wasn’t very pretty, but they were obviously having fun. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any more pornographic, she started to change up at the top of the beach right at the bottom of the public access stairs. From the beach frolicking, there was bound to be a lot of sand on their bodies that needed to get wiped off as there weren’t any rinsing showers. The thing to understand is that she was easily 250-300lbs, and her partner had to wipe the sand off of her skin, and from between the rolls before she could put her clothes on. That meant a prolonged period of full frontal nudity of this woman for our kids to witness. Nuff said.
The second thing that happened was a dog on dog attack at the edge of the beach. The smaller dog was on a leash, whereas the bigger dog was not and his owner didn’t seem to be in any rush to put it on a leash either. The smaller dog owner had to lift up its dog by the collar and spin it around to avoid the brown dog from attacking it. Eventually the owner turtled on top of his dog as the dog was jumping up to nip at the flying dog. Finally, the big dog owner came over and put him on a leash. Brutal.
Lastly, there was an impressive display of community beach watch as an overweight older tourist was swept out into the ocean and was having trouble coming back to shore. The local surfers lept into action and went out to get him and they brought him back in. I ran down to make sure he was fine, which he said he was, but then the ambulance and beach rescue unit came to check him out. I think that is enough action for the day!
On the last day out of town, we planned to stop at a place called Acrobranch where Deb and Lulu could do a tree top obstacle course and zip lining. Wilson wasn’t sure if he was going to do it, or if he did, he would just do the easy level.
The guide was confident in Wilson to the point that he said that by the time he finished the easy course, he would want to do the next level that was higher up and had a longer zip line. He was right. It was a lot of fun and the obstacles were challenging as they bounced, swayed, and rocked back and forth.
The last zip line was 75m long, which everyone finished with a big smile on their faces before we headed out for another seaside adventure at Storms River Mouth at Tsitiskamma National Park.