My French friend, currently living in Cape Town, visited for the week-end. We decided to spend a glorious sunshine Sunday in Knysna, partaking in some of the festivities of the ANNUAL KNYSNA OYSTER FESTIVAL, South Africa’s largest lifestyle, sporting and family event. With over 100 sporting, lifestyle, foodie and kiddie events on offer – each of which benefits local communities and charities – the festival truly offers something for everyone.
Well, it was a bit of that combined with playing ‘tour guide’ (I love it!!). Driving from Wilderness to Knysna, our first stop was a viewpoint of Lake Pleasant. I had to show her one of the most beautiful lakes in the Garden Route. Then, passing through Sedgefield, we spotted a big mosaic heart. A warm welcome to this ‘Slow Town of the Garden Route’…the name emphasized by a mode of transport on offer nearby: Mopeds!! #itgottabedone
Eventually (we were in no rush anyways…The Garden Route tends to have that effect on one) we arrived in Knysna. It gets me every time…the first sight as you drive in, over the lagoon towards ‘The Heads’. Breathtaking…
What is the first place one should pay a visit to when you arrive here? None other than… yes, you guessed it, The Knysna Heads! No matter how many times you visit you can never get tired of the magnificent views. Think the turquoise lagoon meeting the deep blue ocean, crashing up against the ragged rocks, majestic Outeniqua Mountains in distance with yachts cruising nearby. Time seems to stand still here.
After many a photo, we decided to head off to the next hot spot: Thesen Island. Walking from the lighthouse through the little forest we came across a most interesting gentleman, Ernest from Zimbabwe. He sells hand-crafted stone and wood ornaments. I couldn’t resist but buy a beautiful elephant book stand for my sister ~ it’s her omen, and with all his unique pieces made with such love and dedication, supporting such a soul was a blessing for me too.
NOTE: The main restaurant at the Heads, although boasting the views, has a reputation for poor service and food, also high prices. We opted to have lunch elsewhere.
Passing by numerous guest houses and lodges on the way back to town, there was one in particular that stood out and caught our eye: TwoAngels Guest House/Self-Catering Villa. Upon closer inspection i.e. actually getting out of the car and walking down the steps, my memory was triggered. It was the home of a very good friend of my mother’s where, as a child, I spent a few Summer holiday luncheons. It’s truly a piece of paradise and with the décor the current owners have implemented; it instantly got my tick of approval. Have a look for yourself and enquire now …. It’s the perfect Knysna accommodation stay!
Thesen Island, a man-made island, is home to the uber chic Turbine Hotel & Spa (where my mom and I stayed once before ~ LOVE IT!!) as well as a variety of restaurants scattered along the water’s edge. This is a hot-spot especially for families, with a dedicated kids play area in the center. It was buzzing with live music in some of the restaurants, people soaking up the sun wining & dining outdoors, kids playing on the swings. We contemplated having a bite to eat here but, with it being her first visit to Knysna, Ms Tour Guide decided to whisk Frenchie off to Knysna Waterfront, as tradition would have it…
Not far off, Knysna Waterfront is possibly the most ‘touristy’ get-together place in this buzzing town. With an array of shops and famous restaurants, a stop here is a must on anyone’s Garden Route Itinerary. After all the activity, we were famished. Mario’s was recommended by the owner of TwoAngels, however, being being fully booked, we opted for the one next-door, 34 Degrees South. It’s a pretty well-known dining spot, with great seafood and sushi. Frenchie devoured Knysna Mussels as a starter, and I Greek Tapas. Followed by a Sushi Platter for 2, of course 😉 Yummy food, reasonable prices and adequate service. We were both more than satisfied.
With bellies full, it was time to browse the shops. The Waterfront has pretty much everything, from clothing to curios, arts and crafts, gemstones, jewelry, leather footwear and more. There is something for everyone NOTE: Husbands, keep an eye on your credit cards!!
After taking all of Knysna in, we jumped back in the car and enjoyed a leisurely drive home, Wilderness bound.
A day at the Knysna Oyster Festival satisfied all senses, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a huge attraction for folk from both far and near. Also, why Knysna is better known as the pearl of the Garden Route!
The Pick ’n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival runs annually from June 28th to July 7th and attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Knysna can be easily accessed by road as it lies on the N2 between Cape Town (500 km) and Port Elizabeth (280 km). Knysnaˋs biggest neighbouring towns are George (60 km) and Plettenberg Bay (35 km).
Distance Table: (From Knysna)
- Mossel Bay- 105 km
- George- 60 km
- Wilderness- 50 km
- Oudtshoorn- 120 km
- Plettenberg Bay 30 km
- Sedgefield 25 km