The Cape West Coast is one of South Africa’s most picturesque and alluring regions. Offering everything from pristine beaches and striking mountain ranges to colourful wildflower carpets in spring, it is no surprise that the area is so popular with holidaymakers. For us, it was also a great stopover destination en route from Namaqua National Park to Cape Town.
Just 150 km from the Mother City, the West Coast town of St Helena Bay was discovered and named by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama way back in 1497, during his pioneer voyage from Europe to India. Today, St Helena Bay is one of the world's key fishing areas and is known for its sailing, surfing, seafood and birdlife.
At the tip of St Helena Bay is the tiny peninsula of Shelley Point. Fringed by water on three sides, it looks almost like an island. The peninsula is home to a secure golf estate, wherein palm-tree lined roads will lead you to the Shelley Point Hotel and Spa, a stunning boutique hotel.
An eclectic mix of African and European influences, the hotel is an art lover’s paradise. Lush gardens and koi ponds dot the hotel’s grounds. Knights “guard” the exteriors while artworks in the form of paintings, model ships, ornate vases and rich tapestries adorn the interiors. It’s the kind of place where you’ll be forgiven for lingering in the public areas to admire the décor.
There are 86 suites of various sizes to choose from. We stayed in a Luxury Duplex Suite which was perfect for a family of four. It consisted of a split-level apartment with twin beds on the lower floor and an en-suite bedroom with a king-size bed in the thatched loft.
The beautiful interiors in the rest of the hotel continued in the rooms and bathroom with strategically placed objets d'art around the suite. Rooms were spacious with seating areas on both floors, as well as a writing desk, beverage station and mini-bar on the lower floor. Luxurious bathrobes and slippers were provided and were so comfortable that guests were requesting to buy them.
I loved spending time on the balcony from where I could see small antelopes grazing on the estate, fishing boats in the ocean further away and stunning sunsets bathing the white houses in golden light in the evenings.
A buffet breakfast spread is served at the hotel during busy periods.
There are two restaurants: Dorothea’s is set around a koi pond and serves light meals, while Cattle Baron serves late lunches and dinners. St Helena has many restaurant options as well.
With an abundance of leisure options for everyone, there’s no need to venture out of this self-contained sanctuary. The spa offers a sauna, steam room, hydro pool and hair salon as well as a wide variety of wellness and beauty treatments. I had a much-needed relaxing massage from the expert hands of Luzaan.
Sporting enthusiasts can choose between the 9-hole Links Golf Course, tennis, cycling or bowls, while readers will love the honour libraries scattered throughout the hotel, where guests can borrow or exchange books.
Other facilities include a fitness centre, a swimming pool, a tea garden, a private cinema as well as kids and teens clubs.
The peninsula is surrounded by three bays with beautiful beaches within walking distance, so beach time and water activities are guaranteed. The calm waters make it ideal for fishing and sailing and for children to play in, while dolphins and whales can even be seen there in season. If you crave more adventure, then coastal drives to nearby Paternoster, guided sea kayak tours and horse-riding can be booked through the hotel.
We stayed at the hotel during the school holidays and it was fairly busy, however Shelley Point and St Helena Bay are not yet as well known as some of their other West Coast counterparts. Go there before everyone else discovers this West Coast gem and savour the peace and tranquility in relative privacy.
See our highlights here
In Africa and Beyond has been nominated for an SA Tourism Award. Vote and you can win a holiday worth R100 000. You will also receive a travel voucher worth R1000. To vote, click here.
Things you must do in South Africa
Join 50,000+ Fans