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The tiny village of Britannia Bay on the west coast of South Africa spans no more than 1.5km across a beautiful, sheltered bay. It’s the domain of the wealthy, where plush homes straddle the sea dunes, their gardens practically on the beach.
Britannia Bay is named after a British vessel that ran aground after hitting an unchartered reef in 1826. No lives were lost. The ship lay buried for over 170 years before being discovered in 1998, near to the low water mark and under 4 meters of sand.
The west coast has some of the richest fishing areas in the world and Britannia Bay regularly sees whales and dolphins visiting her shores. The bay has a launch site for boats and good surfing spots.
Britannia Bay can be visited all year round, however, the best time is in winter when the summer winds abate and the seas are calm. The bay is active with fishermen collecting snoek (barracoota) and charters cruising the bay to watch the whales.
Top 6 reasons to visit Britannia Bay
1. Spend lazy days on Britannia Beach sun tanning or swimming in the cool water. Beachcombing this flat, golden beach should net you a few beautiful shells and discover interesting sea creatures.
2. Hire a board and enjoy the surfing spots along the coast. Names such as Heaven, Hell and Pastures don’t quite match up to the surf conditions, waves in this area can get rough particularly after stormy weather further south and require a fair amount of surfing experience.
3. The west coast is famous for its wild flowers that carpet fields for miles around at the start of spring. Britannia Bay is on the route, be sure to visit at this time year and remember your camera!
4. Take a walk along the beach to reach the lighthouse. For the more energetic, hike westwards through the Groot Paternoster Private Nature Reserve that hugs the coastline, to the picturesque town of Paternoster.
5. Neighbouring Shelley Point has a magnificent 9-hole links golf course, the course fees are reasonable and visitors are welcome. Enjoy the cool sea breeze and great views during your round.
6. Charter a boat to experience deep sea fishing where shoals of pilchards attract many game fish such as yellowtail and longfin tuna. An indication of activity are seagulls and gannets patrolling overhead.
The nearest international airport to Britannia Bay is Cape Town International Airport, 170km away. Chartered flights land and depart at the Saldanha/Vredenburg airfield, an approximate 30 minute drive. Car rental agencies are located at the Cape Town airport and in Saldanha Bay, otherwise order a rental online. Unfortunately there are no taxi operators in Britannia Bay, however, there are a number of tour operators that offer shuttle services between the airport, Cape Town and the village.
Did you know?
The salvage team that discovered the Britannia shipwreck unearthed some amazing products, including sealed earthenware pots, their contents still perfectly preserved. Other finds were bottles containing olives and medicines.
Britannia Bay has a surprising amount of restaurants and pubs to keep visitors entertained. Shelley Point has an exclusive hotel with several restaurants including romantic dinners on a floating riverboat.