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Mossel Bay - Garden Route, South Africa

History capital of the Garden Route

Mossel Bay – a harbour town lies 400 kilometers east of Cape Town and 400 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth, (the largest city in the Eastern Cape.) It is a popular town enveloped by the Indian Ocean: a sun-washed peninsula. The older – and more historic – parts of the town occupy the north facing slopes of the Cape St. Blaize Peninsula. Mossel Bay is regarded as the historical and archaeological capital of the Garden Route.



In 1488 Bartholomew Dias – a Portuguese explorer - dropped anchor in the Bay of St Blaize: (“Aguada de Sào Bras” as it was originally known) and the town developed as a busy export harbour for wool, ochre and ostrich feathers from the surrounding- and interior region. The many beautiful historic buildings in the town bear evidence of its heritage and historical importance. In 1601 the Dutch navigator, Paulus van Caerden, re-named the town “Mossel Bay”, when he discovered that mussels were a most welcome addition to the diet of his crew – hence the town’s name. Gourmets rate the mussels gathered in Mossel Bay each spring, among the finest in the world.



Many museums bear testimony to Mossel Bay’s history. The Maritime Museum focuses on the sailing and ships of the early days of discovery and is home to the impressive life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias’s ‘Caravel’, the ship in which he sailed into Mossel Bay in the year 1488. The Granery is another museum which boasts a permanent display of fresh specimens of wild flowers from this region, and a beautiful collection of photographs of the many mountain passes that link the coastal area to the Little Karoo.


The Shell Museum houses a very large collection of shells, and illustrates how they were used by man through the years as tools. The Cultural History Museum has a wide variety of historical artefacts from various periods in history from the area. In addition to the museums, there are a number of interesting historic buildings in Mossel Bay, such as the Shirley Buildings and the Munrohoek Cottages among many others. One of the most popular historic attractions is the Post Tree - estimated to be more than 800 years old - and has been declared a national monument. It is located underneath the Milkwood tree where Pedro d’Ataide left a letter in 1500 in a seaman’s boot for passing ships. Letters are still posted there today in a seaman’s boot! 

Following mitochondrial DNA research - which shows that all humans alive today descend from a small population that lived between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago - the Mossel Bay Archaeology Project attests to human origins in the Mossel Bay area dating back 165 000 years.


There’s so much to do in Mossel Bay - from adrenalin adventures such as surfing, 4x4 trails, horse riding, deep sea fishing, sky diving and shark-cage diving, to gentle, contemplative ac­tivities including lazing on the beach or watching whales. In fact it’s a particularly popular whale and dolphin watching destination – especially during the whale season, between July and No­vember. Entertainment includes the Garden Route Casino and a wide variety of live perfor­mances. Of the many beaches in the area, four beaches have been awarded seasonal Blue Flag status.


The Ethno Botanical Garden and Braille Trail is situated in the grounds of the Dias Museum Complex. The Braille Trail was developed for the visually impaired to experience plants which were used by the San, Khoi, Coloured, Xhosa and Europeans for magic rituals, food and medi­cine, by touch and smell.

In addition to its many attractions and activities, Mossel Bay’s mild climate affords visitors more than 300 days of sunshine annually – making for an ideal year round holiday destination.


Accommodation offerings are unique and in­clude sea-front and mountainside accommoda­tion to suit everyone’s budget. Establishments to choose from: hotels, chalets, bed and break­fasts, casino hotels, guest houses, luxury ac­commodation, mountain inns, beach cottages, lodges, back packers accommodation, camping and caravan sites.

Mossel Bay is renowned for its culinary experi­ences and choices include coffee shops, roas­teries, a wide range of restaurants (of which a number are popular seafood restaurants), fran­chised food-on-the-go, cafes and festive pubs. The Langeberg Mall is a popular dining and shopping destination, and houses a large num­ber of high profile retailers.


Mossel Bay experiences:


• Abseiling • Archaeological trails • Art routes • Boat trips • Botanical parks • Bungi and bridge diving • Camping • Caravanning • Craft workshops • Cycling • Day trips • Dune riding • Fishing • Gaming • Golf • Gourmet restaurants • Historic architecture • Historical caves • Historical walks • Horse riding • Kayaking • Live entertainment • Culinary festivals • Museums • Nature trails • Night life • Power Boating • Sailing • Scuba diving • Shark cage diving • Ship wreck diving • Shopping • Sky diving • Slack packing along the coast • St. Blaize lighthouse • Sun bathing • Surfing • Swimming • The Braille trail – indigenous plants and flowers of the area for the blind • Tours • Whale watching