Going south, far south: Struisbaai & Agulhas

I have spent many childhood holidays here. It is far. Far south. It is the little costal town of Struisbaai, pronounced (sort of) Stress Bye as one beach house is dubbed . How do you get there? From Cape Town you turn off the N2 toward Caledon, through Napier, Bredasdorp and then all the way south until you can almost see the ocean. There are no scenic route, so there is little chance that you will accidentally stumble upon it. You need to want to go there.

With few permanent residents, it is very quiet out of season. Perfect.

There are many things I like about this sleepy town with no traffic lights, and one central shopping area which include all the basics: hardware store, fish&chips shop, supermarket, pharmacy, hairdresser, launderette  home industry, giftshop and Irish pub. Here's just a few:

The long, white sandy beaches
When you enter Struis Bay, you drive past a sign that reads Die Plaat (the plate). It is an endless stretch of flat beach, with soft, white, powdery sand. Really powdery (it sticks to your legs). This section of the beach is part of a protected area, so no 4x4-ing over the dunes. It is also rather deserted, which made us a bit nervous. The little neighbourhood next to Die Plaat shares this kind of beach. On the day we were the only people there, apart from some people learning to surf.

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"I like long walks on the beach..."
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Just beach.
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Some of the beaches are not so sandy, but are instead covered with grey pebbles of different sizes, progressing from small at the water's edge to large at the foot of the dunes. It makes the most amazing sound as the tide flows and ebbs. Like a rainstick, just better.

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The harbour
The harbour is small and quant. There are always a bunch of colourful fishing boats floating around, making you shudder at the thought of them out in the rough, open seas. We visited the harbour almost every day, to buy soft serve ice cream from an old lady in a caravan. This is followed by a stroll on the harbour wall, or the jetty, always peering into the crystal clear water to see if you can spot the stingrays. And boy, were they spotted!

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Harbour wall
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Really big stingray or common ray, not sure which one. We saw about 5 at one time.
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 If you arrive just at the right time, you can hang around, watching the fishermen arrive back, unloading their hard earned catch, under the watchful eye of the police and the seagulls. Be sure to eat as much fresh fish as you can. No fancy Joburg restaurant meal can ever compare to today's catch, drenched in lemon and butter.

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The L'Agulhas, and the most southern point of Africa
L'Agulhas or Cape Agulhas is the neighbouring town of Stuisbaai. If you keep following the main road, you pass around Spookdraai (ghost curve), and then you are in Agulhas. It is also home to the most southern tip of Africa, and the point where the two oceans really meet. Yes, that wine bottle lied, it is not at Cape Point. Agulhas has a beautiful old lighthouse which is currently being renovated. Usually you can pay a small fee, and scale the ancient wooden steps and ladders to the top. It offers an amazing view, if you can face the hights. I have been known to cry on many occasions, somewhere between up and down.

Legend has it that old seafarers often stranded on the jagged boulders around Agulhas, because their compas needles went haywire. Shipwrecks litter the coast, and one is still (barely) visible if you just pass the most southern point.

The official point is very unimpressive. There is a small monument to indicate the spot. Recently a wheelchair accessible walkway has been built, with a few benches along the way so you can admire the view and just listen to the crashing waves.

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Tourists taking pics. I too have taken many pics here over the years. 
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But I have to say, my favorite thing to visit in Stuis Bay and/or Agulhas, is the rock pools. When the tide goes out, the rocky pools, teeming with life, are revealed. Tiny starfish, hermit crabs, snails, and klipvisse (rock fish?). I can sit here for hours, just watching this little ecosystem. Magical.

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Spot the fish (tip: bottom, middle)
If you need to escape, go south, until you can't go any further.


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