If you spend some time in this coastal town, you’ll find there’s lots to discover! Here’s a guide to places I think are worth visiting if you decide to stay in Mossel Bay for a night or two rather than just passing through.
Mossel Bay is an oft overlooked town as many of us rush along to get to other Garden Route destinations. However, if you spend some time in this coastal town, you’ll find there’s lots to discover. When I visited a few months ago I found all sorts of interesting spots!
Here’s a guide to places I think are worth visiting if you decide to stay in Mossel Bay for a night or two rather than just passing through.
Mossel Bay Craft Art Workshop
The Mossel Bay Craft Art Workshop in Market Street showcases glass art, hand embroidery, beadwork, paper mache, township art and other works created by talented local artists. I spent well over an hour in there poking my nose into all the different rooms and left with a very sweet Mossel Bay enamel mug (I collect enamel mugs). Apart from all kinds of interesting arts and crafts, you can get extremely well-priced meals and beverages from the Spinning Cup Coffee Shop. I am not sure when last I saw a toasted sandwich for R20 or a meal for R30! If you are on a budget and feel the need for a cuppa and a meal, this is definitely the place to go!
Contact: Telephone 044 691 176
Chow! – Mossel Bay Food Market
Speaking of budget spots to eat, the recently opened Chow! in the Bayside Centre is worth stopping in at if you are feeling peckish. However, you may have a hard time making up your mind what you want! There’s everything from sushi to ice cream, steaks to burgers, Greek to Indian, along with coffee and beer. There’s also live music evenings, quiz nights and karaoke sessions. It’s popular with the locals and that should tell you something!
Contact: Follow Chow! on Facebook
Historical Walk on Foot
I personally love historical walks. They give you a good insight to the lay of the land, while learning fascinating facts and finding interesting buildings. Of course I always get sidetracked as I duck into shops along the way, so they end up taking me a lot longer! The historical walk kept me well occupied for most of the day and I had a great time spotting Masonic temples, original bank buildings, diamond merchants, wagon houses and the only shop where the infamous “Sakkies” was sold. It doesn’t cost you a thing (apart from a good deal of energy) and you can get the map from the Tourism Bureau on the corner of Market and Church Street.
Coastal Plants and Coffee Shop
I always get excited when I find a pet-friendly spot and if it has a nursery attached to it then it’s even better! However, I had walked the town flat while following the historical map, so I was very happy to just plonk myself down at a table and order a quiche and a cold drink! All their meals are homemade and very reasonably priced. They also sell indigenous plants and pots as well as having a gift shop. Your well-behaved dog on a leash is welcome to join you, but bear in mind that there are resident cats who favour snoozing on a chair or under a table in the restaurant area.
Contact: Telephone 044 690 3899, or follow them on Facebook
Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex
I went to the Bartolomeu Dias Museum many years ago and to be honest it hasn’t changed much! But I have never forgotten the life-size replica of Dias’ caravel and it still managed to impress me this time around. The Post Office Tree is another highlight of the museum, along with the magificent shell collection in the Shell Museum. Children will especially love the museum complex and it makes for a pleasant afternoon stroll while taking in some of the oldest houses in Mossel Bay, Malay graves and a botanical garden featuring plants used by both the indiginous people and European settlers . The Braille Trail in this section makes it possible for the blind to enjoy the experience too. Entrance is R20 for adults, R10 for pensioners and R5 for children.
Contact: Telephone 044 691 1067, www.diasmuseum.co.za
Cape St Blaize Lighthouse
Situated directly above the Cape St Blaize Cave, which was used by local hunter-gatherers herders over a period of about 200,000 years, Mossel Bay’s iconic lighthouse has been shining its light since 1864. Cape St Blaize is so-named because Bartolomeu Dias and his crew first landed in Mossel Bay on St Blaize’s Day in 1488. The road up to the lighthouse is a little rough and quite narrow, but my Hyundai Getz handled it just fine. I was relieved that nobody was coming in the other direction though! There was nobody around when I visited, so I couldn’t get inside to see the lamp, but that was probably due to fairly grim weather that day. They are open Mondays to Fridays from 10h00 to 15h00 between April and October and it costs R16 to climb the tower.
Contact: Telephone 044 690 3015
Mossel Bay Historic Ghost Walk
Did you know that Mossel Bay was originally known for its stink? Due to the lack of water available to wash down the drains, they were constantly clogged up with human waste, meat and fish. While I was being told this I found myself crinkling up my nose as I imagined it all! Leon van der Walt has a wonderful way of telling a story and on his walk you’ll find out all sorts of things about Mossel Bay that you won’t hear about elsewhere. He’ll point out buildings of interest (each with their own story); show you where the wagons outspanned; where brawls commonly broke out; and where the only hanging in Mossel Bay took place. You’ll see the wall that the Germans built in the cemetery to separate their graves from “the untidy ones on the other side”; a floor covered in 5c pieces; different stonemason styles; and a windowsill where fishermen used to sharpen their knives. Whilst it’s not entirely a ghost walk (there is one very haunted building with a suitably chilling tale) but rather a walk back in time, you won’t be disappointed. It was definitely the best R150 I spent in Mossel Bay and I wish I had’ve known about his walk before doing my own one earlier in the day. I ended up walking the town flat twice in one day!
Contact: Telephone 065 637 4582 or follow them on Facebook
Blue Oyster Cocktail Bar
Before embarking on the ghost walk, I treated myself to a cocktail and a plate of delicious sushi while enjoying the sunset over Santos Beach. It wasn’t cheap, but definitely worth it! This trendy bar is part of the stylish Café Gannet and they have fresh oysters, sushi, tapas and pizzas, along with cocktails, craft gins, beers and shots.
Telephone 044 691 1885, or follow them on Facebook
It’s not often you come across an angel on a stairwell when you are taking a walk along a main street in a seaside town! But that’s exactly what I found while following the historical map of Mossel Bay. Intrigued, I went around the corner and found the entrance to Rut Creations. It was quite breathtaking, if you like angels like I do! The walls are adorned with beautiful paintings of all kinds of angels – happy angels, strong angels, wounded angels and even the odd dark angel. All the paintings have either words of encouragement or passages from The Bible. Even if you aren’t religious, this gallery and coffee shop is worth taking a peek into. Don’t be surprised if you leave with an angelic water bottle, a pair of angel wing earrings or a beautifully illustrated motivational diary. You can even have your photo taken with your own pair of angel wings. If you are lucky, the talented local artist behind the works of art, Riette Delport, may be in house to join you for a cup of coffee.
Contact: Telephone 087 808 8501, www.rutcreations.co/
The Blue Shed Coffee Roastery
Early bird caffeine seekers will be pleased to know that The Blue Shed Coffee Roastery is open every day of the week from 06h30! Apart from coffee they do a good Chai Latte, serve milkshakes and also have homemade muffins, pies, cakes and pastries. I loved ambling about the yard looking at all the old vehicles, while inside there’s all sorts of old world things to look at along with comfy couches and vintage chairs that entice you to settle in for the day! Children will love the playground too.
Contact: Telephone 044 691 0037, or follow them on Facebook
Déjà Vu Vintage House
When I was enquiring about cool things to do in Mossel Bay this theatre and vintage shop was one of the first things to come up and after my visit I am not surprised why. Apart from a wonderful selection of vintage clothing (which can be hired), they also host weekly vintage movie nights, caberet evenings and high teas. For a very reasonable R65 you can enjoy a light meal (bring your own wine) and watch a classic movie in the only registered theatre in Mossel Bay, complete with a blanket and next to a warm fire. Their high tea costs R150 (minimum two people) and you can expect vintage tea cups, lace, gloves and a fine hat to add some glamour to the experience. You can also have your photograph taken using props like old bicycles, shawls, hats and cigarette holders. I know where I am going for tea when I am next in Mossel Bay!
Contact: Telephone 082 415 9588, or follow them on Facebook
The Pink Hound
To be honest, a place like The Pink Hound was the last thing I expected to find in Mossel Bay! So you can imagine my surprise when I was wandering along Marsh Street and came across a very pink shop filled with some of the most interesting works of art I have ever seen. I was totally mesmerised and completely fascinated! You really need to see it to believe it! Also be prepared to have your photo taken under their brightly coloured umbrellas that cover the the ceiling…
(I wasn’t allowed to take any photos, so I have used one from their Facebook page.)
Contact: Telephone 076 214 2965 or follow them on Facebook
The Kartel Exchange
Next door to The Pink Hound in Marsh Street is a coffee shop that I thought was a workshop! I was busy peering inside admiring all the interesting vehicles and watching a whole lot of mechanics going on when I spotted a coffee machine. Turns out you can get really good coffee here, along with monster milkshakes and well-priced sandwiches at the Koffie Kartel inside. They also have a smoking section. I didn’t go inside as I had just eaten, but will definitely pop in another time to enjoy a milkshake while admiring the impressive bikes. If you are a fan of coffee, vintage cars and cool bikes, you will love it here!
Contact: Telephone 066 227 1305, or follow them on Facebook
As if Marsh Street couldn’t possibly get any cooler, when you get to a giant Pink Floyd style mural, you’ve arrived at Zeppelins. This rock n’ roll bar has some of the best murals I have seen, including a very impressive Jimmi Hendrix. I ordered a Savanna, found a seat at the bar and watched the world come and go while listening to The Doors, Bob Marley and Guns n’ Roses. Great art, good music and a cold one are the best way to end the day! Apart from drinks, they serve bar snacks and light meals and there’s live music nights, along with specials and happy hours.
Contact: Telephone 044 690 3322, or follow them on Facebook
What initially attracted me to this emporium in Marsh Street was the the doggy bowls on the street saying “woof cocktail”. It was clearly not cocktail happy hour as the bowls were empty, but it still meant that this was a pet-friendly spot! Once inside I was amazed at all the different things on offer. There’s a deli with a good selection of German, French and Dutch goodies, a coffee shop and restaurant, arts and crafts, clothes, jewellery and antiques, along with a salon offering reflexology, facials and massages. There’s also a hairdresser. A friendly one-stop-hop where you can relax, get pampered and have your hair done while enjoying a cappuccino.
Contact: Telephone 044 690 3819, or follow them on Facebook
Legoland at the Shell Garage
I couldn’t believe it when I heard about a LEGO shop at a Shell Garage in Mossel Bay. Who would’ve thought? But it’s true, you can buy LEGO sets at Bricks for Africa above the OK Express at the Shell Garage next to the N2 (close to the Langeberg Mall). Lego is not cheap, but I was absolutely fascinated by all the things you could buy, from Harry Potter to Batman, to cool Volkswagen Kombi’s and entire LEGO shop building sets. Perhaps be careful taking your children there as they are going to want you to buy all of it!
Contact: Telephone 044 695 1172 or follow them on Facebook
Boerqi Bistro, Ruitersbos
If you have time, you really should take a drive to the Boerqi Bistro on the R328 between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn. This quirky little eatery at the Ruitersbos Farm Stall is famous for their pizza and roosterkoek, but also serves breakfasts and homemade treats. When I was there I thoroughly enjoyed my roosterkoek and chips, complete with an edible flower! You can call about 20 minutes ahead if you want your pizza to be ready when you arrive and you should put in an order for their plaasbroed at the same time! There are also plenty of vegetarian pizza and roosterkoek options and vegans are catered for too. They are pet-friendly, but have dogs of their own so please check with them first before hopping out your car with your dog. Your dogs must be well-behaved and on a leash.
Contact: Telephone 044 631 0125, www.boerqibistro.com
Where to stay in Mossel Bay
I spent two nights on a train only 30 metres from the sea and a Blue Flag beach, while enjoying gin and tonics and tucking into some really good calamari! I was hosted in their Royal Suite (R1 200 for the night) for the first night and got to sleep on a wooden coach built in 1919, complete with all the finishings and fine touches, along with having my own deck. A cooked breakfast also came with the deal. The second night I downgraded to one of their standard compartments (R225 for the night) and was still impressed – the linen is especially lovely and their mattresses are made from hemp, which is a rare find in a backpackers! Remember to bring your own towel if you are in the cheap seats and there is no kitchen for self-catering. But you can have a braai and they supply braai grids and wood.
However, their food in the restaurant is so reasonably priced that you don’t really need to self-cater. A light breakfast (cereals, yoghurt, fruit, toast, fruit juice and tea or coffee) is included with your standard stay and I highly recommend their fish and chips and calamari (or just the calamari with chips basket if you only want to spend R50). The Santos Express is open to the public so you don’t need to sleep there to enjoy the restaurant and pub, but it’s a novel and affordable place to stay when exploring Mossel Bay.
Contact: Telephone 044 6911 995, www.santosexpress.co.za
Published August 2019 | Own cost, one night sponsored at Santos Express