The Plettenberg Bay (or Plett) Quick Travel Guide
Plettenberg Bay along South Africa’s Garden Route, fondly dubbed 'Plett' is well known as the destination of choice for South Africa’s rich and famous, although it offers plenty more than just glitz and glamour. A favourite holiday destination amongst both South Africans and international visitors,the Garden Route town of Plettenberg Bay offers glorious unspoilt beaches, fine dining, a vibey nightlife and a year round mild climate. Plettenberg Bay is also a nursery for the magnificent Southern Right Whales, who arrive every year during winter and spring to calve.
Plettenberg Bay is very popular with South African school leavers during December and January so young people looking for a party will have a whale of a time with Plettenberg Bay’s nightlife scene. There are plenty of great restaurants, bars and upmarket accommodation in Plettenberg Bay, making it a great place for a trendy and fun Garden Route break. Families are also well catered for in Plettenberg Bay, with a good number of nearby activities for those with children and beaches galore.
Plettenberg Bay, like much of the Garden Route and Eastern Cape, is a good year round destination. Summertime (December to March) is generally sunny and warm and wintertime tends to be mild. We would recommend avoiding Plettenberg Bay during the Christmas holiday period (December to end of January) as although the weather is pretty good, accommodation is often booked up and expensive and restaurants and beaches are crowded with the many school leavers who flock to the Garden Route’s Plettenberg Bay to celebrate the end of exams.
We’d recommend you spend 2-3 days in Plettenberg Bay. This will allow you to spend some time relaxing on the many great Plettenberg Bay beaches, do some shopping, enjoy the famous Plettenberg Bay nightlife and spot some wildlife. If you’d like to stay longer in Plettenberg Bay there is more than enough to keep you amused both in the town and the surrounding areas, however 2-3 days will give you a good experience of the Garden Route’s playground for the rich and famous.
- Whale and dolphin watching (July – December) – Plettenberg Bay is home to some of the best boat based whale and dolphin watching along the Garden Route and indeed in the world – it is not to be missed!
- Take a hike around the Robberg Peninsula and Nature Reserve – the rocky Robberg peninsula offers some stunning scenery and you may even spot some of the resident seals.
- A meal and sundowners at one of the many beach bars or restaurants in Plettenberg Bay – Look Out Deck Restaurant, Emily Moon River Lodge and Enrico’s have some pretty great views!
- Take a scenic drive along part of the Garden Route from Plettenberg Bay to Nature’s Valley (about 25kms) – plenty of amazing scenery along the way.
Plettenberg Bay Full Travel Guide (for a little more detail)
Plettenberg Bay Overview
Plettenberg Bay is a smallish yet very popular holiday destination along the Garden Route. Well known as the destination of choice for South Africa’s rich and famous, "Plett" as it is called by locals, can be a little more expensive than the surrounding areas, but is still well worth a visit, no matter what your walk of life. Not just for the glamorous, Plettenberg Bay has many great restaurants, bars and the choice of places to stay in Plett is excellent, with accommodation ranging from truly luxurious hotels to more rustic B&Bs or self-catering accommodation. There are many wonderful things to do both in Plettenberg Bay itself and in the surrounding areas, including great wildlife spotting experiences, great beaches and excellent hiking trails.
How to get to Plettenberg Bay
Although Plettenberg Bay has a small airport, you will need your own aircraft to fly into it. The closest commercial airport to Plettenberg Bay is the Garden Route’s George airport. 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 Johannesburg and Cape Town.
An excellent way to get to Plettenberg Bay is to drive from Cape Town or Port Elizabeth. Take a week or two and drive along the beautiful Garden Route. Exploring the Garden Route by car is a great way to enjoy this incredible part of South Africa, we’d recommend spending a few days in Plettenberg Bay and also visiting some of the other great Garden Route towns such as Mossel Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn and Port Elizabeth. For some great Garden Route car hire deals check out our car hire prices on the right hand side of this page.
When to go to Plettenberg Bay
With a mild Mediterranean-like climate Plettenberg Bay and indeed the whole of the Garden Route is a good holiday destination all year round, even in winter temperatures rarely drop below double figures during the day.
December and January tend to be very busy in Plettenberg Bay when the town is descended upon by large numbers of school leavers celebrating the end of exams. The weather is generally great during these months, however Plettenberg Bay’s restaurants, bars, beaches and accommodation tend to get very crowded so we would recommend avoiding Plett during December and January, but if you do wish to go then, definitely book your Plettenberg Bay accommodation well in advance.
February and March are probably the best time to visit as the weather is still good enough to enjoy the great Garden Route outdoor lifestyle and there are less people competing for space. It is still advisable to book Plettenberg Bay accommodation in advance in February and March.
Things to do in Plettenberg Bay
Beaches and water-related things to do
For beach lovers there are some magnificent white, sandy beaches in Plettenberg Bay: Central Beach, Look Out and Keurboomstrand, which between them have over 14 kilometres of glorious beaches and are good for swimming and walking or simply relaxing in the sand. Plettenberg Bay’s Central Beach is probably the busiest. But has a life guard and gentle waves, making it ideal for families. The striking Robberg Beach, with its dramatic rocky peninsulas cascading into the warm Indian Ocean is a great Plettenberg Bay beach for long scenic walks.
Being a coastal town, Plettenberg Bay offers the visitor a range of water sports and water related things to do. Try your hand at sea kayaking or canoeing along the Keurbooms river or enjoy a ferry ride and take in the beautiful scenery. Canoes can be hired for the day from the kiosk at the Keurbooms River bridge. Diving is also a popular thing to do in Plettenberg Bay and the Plettenberg Bay area is home to over 100 species of fish and some of the best soft coral reefs in the world. Families may want to head to nearby water park, Adventure Land for a day of swimming and sliding.
Nature and wildlife things to do
Plettenberg Bay is home to some of the best boat-based whale and dolphin watching in the world. There are quite a few operators running whale and dolphin watching trips in Plettenberg Bay and trips generally last around 3 hours – the main season for spotting the magnificent Southern Right Whales is between July and December when these gentle giants come to Plettenberg Bay to calve.
Bird and nature lovers can also enjoy the Birds of Eden Sanctuary just outside Plettenberg Bay, which is the world’s largest free-flying aviary and Monkeyland is also worth a trip - a world renowned, free roaming sanctuary for primates. There are also several options for hiking, strolling and exploring the indigenous forest around Plettenberg Bay with some excellent long and short walking and hiking trails, there are some particularly scenic walks on offer on Plettenberg Bay’s Robberg Peninsula Nature Reserve.
South Africa’s Garden Route is famous for its outstanding golf courses and Plettenberg Bay and surrounding areas don’t disappoint on this front. There are several great Garden Route golf courses both in Plettenberg Bay and nearby Knysna and golfers of all abilities are bound to find the perfect place to tee-off.
Eating out and Nightlife in Plettenberg Bay
There are lots of excellent Plettenberg Bay restaurants serving up some of the best food and views in the Garden Route. Head to Plettenberg Bay’s Main Street area for a wide choice of restaurants and to sample the best of Plettenberg Bay’s nightlife or head to some of Plett’s beaches where you’ll find some great restaurants too.
Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay
There are lots of accommodation options in Plettenberg Bay ranging from truly luxurious accommodation to more rustic B&Bs, so there is plenty to choose from. We’d recommend booking Plettenberg Bay accommodation in advance, especially if you intend to travel there in the summer months of December and January as it can get a little busy.