The Mossel Bay Travel Guide
The Garden Route’s Mossel Bay definitely has a backpacker feel to it and is certainly well established on South Africa’s backpacker route with regular stops by the Baz Bus and some excellent backpacker lodges to be found in Mossel Bay. Here at My Guide Garden Route though, we’d also suggest that the Garden Route’s Mossel Bay is not only for backpackers! It’s a great place to stop for anyone who likes great beaches, good food in a relaxed environment and fun and active things to do!
The busiest time is usually summer holidays (mid December to mid January) when the weather is normally very good, so if you are looking for a party crowd then this is the time to go, but we would suggest heading to Mossel Bay and even most of the Garden Route in late February to early March. You’ll find accommodation cheaper (and emptier) and the weather is still very pleasant, with temperatures sitting in the low to mid twenties and plenty of sunshine.
How long to spend in Mossel Bay largely depends on what you feel like doing. To enjoy all the adventure activities on offer, we’d suggest at least a week. 3-4 days will allow you to relax and soak up Mossel Bay’s no hurry, no worries culture and if you simply want to see the highlights and spend a little time on the beach 2 days should do it.
- A must-do for anyone brave enough is a cage dive with Great White Sharks – The Garden Route’s Mossel Bay is home to the most accessible Great White Shark colony in the world – they are a very short distance from land!
- Head to the beach – with 24km of Indian Ocean lapped beaches and 300+ days of sunshine a year, Mossel Bay has plenty to choose from. We like Dias Beach and Santos Beach for their proximity to town, but Dana Bay and Little Brak River also have some fantastic beach spots.
- Scuba diving – Mossel Bay and indeed the whole of the Garden Route are home to some excellent dive sites with plenty of fish and sharks to be seen!
- Head to the sand dunes and hop on a board – it’s like surfing, but on sand!
Mossel Bay Full Travel Guide (for a little more info!)
Mossel Bay Overview
Set at the beginning of South Africa’s stunning Garden Route, Mossel Bay is a great Garden Route destination for anyone wanting to spend some time enjoying some of the Garden Route’s more adventurous activities or wanting to enjoy a relaxed and care-free break. With a real backpacker vibe and a low-key Mediterranean-like charm, the Garden Route’s Mossel Bay is relaxed and friendly.
There are several fantastic beaches – quite a few with blue flag status, which are great for relaxing on or swimming and surfing too! Pubs and restaurants are pretty chilled and there is some great fresh seafood and ‘braaied’ meat to be had. Mossel Bay is also well placed as the adrenaline capital of the Garden Route -high adrenaline activities galore await you, from Great White Shark diving to sand boarding. Mossel Bay is also a town steeped in history. The Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias first arrived in Mossel Bay in 1488 whilst looking for a spice route to the East. The bay continued to be used by the Portuguese and later the Dutch as a place to replenish supplies and is even home to South Africa’s first "post office," a milkwood tree where sailors would leave letters for the crews of following ships.
Visitors to South Africa’s Garden Route would do well to spend a few days in picturesque Mossel Bay and to embrace the Mossel Bay way – No hurry – No worries!
How to get to Mossel Bay
The closest airport to Mossel Bay is the Garden Route’s George airport. George airport is about 50km or 3/4 of an hour’s drive from Mossel Bay, but you will need to hire a car to get from the airport to the town. George airport is serviced by a number of airlines including South African Airways and the low-cost airline Kulula and there are regular flights from and Cape Town. You could also choose to fly into Port Elizabeth Airport and drive along the wonderful Garden Route all the way through to Mossel Bay, although this is a pretty long drive so you will definitely need to break it up by stopping at some of the Garden Route’s other must-see towns, such as Jeffrey’s Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn.
Getting to Mossel Bay by car couldn’t be easier the N2 from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth pretty much passes straight through Mossel Bay, providing easy access to this Garden Route town. Mossel Bay’s town centre is pretty compact and restaurants and bars are generally within easy walking distance of each other however, we would also recommend having a car at hand during your visit to Mossel Bay so that you can get to some of the other further away attractions and beaches.
When to go
As with most of South Africa’s Garden Route, Mossel Bay is lucky enough to enjoy a temperate climate and so temperatures rarely plunge below double figures and there’s a good amount of sunshine throughout the year – in fact Mossel Bay boasts an average 300 days sunshine a year. The busiest time is usually summer holidays (mid December to mid January) when the weather is normally very good, but beaches and accommodation can get crowded. The annual Summer Sun Festival also attracts the crowds at this time of year, so if you are looking for lots of people to mix with this is a good time of year to visit Mossel Bay. However if you are looking for a slightly quieter time, we would suggest heading to Mossel Bay and even most of the Garden Route in late February to early March as you’ll find accommodation cheaper (and emptier) and the weather is still very pleasant, with temperatures sitting in the low to mid twenties and plenty of sunshine.
How long to Spend in Mossel Bay
How long to spend in Mossel Bay largely depends on what you feel like doing. If you are an adrenaline junkie and plan to take full advantage of all the fun activities on offer in Mossel Bay and the surrounding Garden Route towns, you could happily spend at least a week here – probably more, especially as many of the Mossel Bay adventurous things to do are weather dependent and so may not always be able to be exactly scheduled. A couple of days will give you plenty of time to explore this Garden Route town and its history and even relax a little on the beach if you are a little less adventure-inclined and 3-4 days should allow you to really embrace the Mossel Bay No hurry – No worries attitude!
Things to do in Mossel Bay
As already mentioned, Mossel Bay is pretty well known for its adventure and high adrenaline activities and you’ll find plenty of those to choose from in this Garden Route town, but there are also plenty of other Mossel Bay things to do.
Adventure and Adrenaline infused Things to do in Mossel Bay
Why not get wet and dive with Great White Sharks? This is a truly thrilling and scary experience, so is definitely only for the brave, but getting in the water and diving with Great White Sharks is a once in a lifetime experience and well worth it if you are visiting Mossel Bay and the Garden Route. The team at White Shark Africa will take great care of you as you brave the deep dark waters of Mossel Bay.
Another popular activity is to head to the longest sand dune in South Africa just outside Mossel Bay, hop on a board and try your hand at sand boarding – it’s a bit like surfing but with sand... Suitable for all levels of experience as you will be shown exactly how to ride those grains!
Other adventurous and high adrenaline activities and things to do in Mossel Bay include: skydiving, if you fancy taking to the skies, surfing – both for those that already know what they are doing and beginners as there are a few surf schools around this Garden Route town. Scuba diving is also a popular Mossel Bay activity and there are some pretty good dive sites close by or you may like to try your hand at climbing and abseiling if you have a head for heights.
Cultural and Historical Things to do in Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay has quite a rich colonial history and was the place where Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias first arrived in South Africa in 1488 whilst looking for a spice route to the East. The Dias Museum offers an insight into this past and is a good way to spend an hour or two and you can even visit the old post tree – rumoured to be South Africa’s first post office - a milkwood tree where sailors would leave letters for the crews of following ships. The Cape St Blaize Cave is also worth a visit for history buffs as you will find artefacts dating back 80,000 years.
Other worthwhile things to do in Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay has some fantastic beaches – they are great to relax on, go for a walk or a swim and simply soak up the 300 days of sunshine that Mossel Bay is lucky enough to enjoy in a year. Heading to a Mossel Bay beach is a great way to spend a day or two – or several! Other worthwhile activities in Mossel Bay include whale and dolphin watching - a great way to spend a day watching these playful ocean creatures. Taking a trip to nearby seal island is also great fun and sunset cruises on the beautiful Indian Ocean are well worth it for the stunning scenery and atmosphere. Anglers are also well catered for and deep sea fishing is a very popular activity in Mossel Bay.
Eating out and Nightlife in Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay’s restaurant and nightlife scene, like much of Mossel Bay is pretty relaxed. Dress casually and head out to Marsh Street, where you will find a good range of bars and restaurants – don’t be put off by some of the exteriors as many serve excellent food and have great service. For a unique Garden Route dining experience you may want to head down to Mossel Bay’s harbour, where you will find a great BBQ or Braai (as it is locally known) restaurant with awesome views over the sea and at the Point Hotel you will find the Lighthouse Restaurant - a great Mossel Bay restaurant with some stunning views.
Where to stay in Mossel Bay
You’ll find a pretty decent range of Mossel Bay accommodation available from excellent backpacker lodges to more upmarket hotels and Guest Houses. Marsh Street probably offers up the most central location, but if you prefer something a little more serene there is plenty of Mossel Bay accommodation at The Point area or out towards the Great and Little Brak Rivers. Things aren’t too far apart in Mossel Bay so as long as you have a car to hand it won’t take you long to get anywhere!