A hidden gem: There’s more to Knysna than the Oyster festival

by Media Xpose

Surrounded by warm-water lagoons and a pair of sandstone cliffs, the coastal town of Knysna is one of the most popular towns along a 300 km stretch of unadulterated beauty known as the Garden Route. Stretching from Mossel Bay to Plettenberg Bay, the coastal road is adorned with several treats from lagoons, beaches, lakes, hiking trails, forest parks and 12 top-class golf courses.

But there’s more to it other than the famous oyster festival where the estuary’s oyster farms provide the chance to indulge in fresh oysters.  It welcomes both locals and tourists with a blend of natural beauty, exquisite accommodation, stunning seafood restaurants to top these countless outdoor adventures:

  • The Knysna Heads – divided into the Eastern and Western – are a pair of sandstone cliffs that separate the Knysna lagoon from the rest of the Indian Ocean. It is the most famous landmark along the Garden Route known for its breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean, Knysna lagoon and the Outeniqua Mountains.
  • The Knysna lagoon itself is sheltered from the rough seas by the Heads and is a very popular location for boating and water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing and water skiing.
  • The Prince Alfred Pass is a 68km long mountain pass – the longest in South Africa – that weaves through the mountains making it one of the most scenic routes connecting Kynsna to Avontuur. Along the way, there are several picnic spots, and from Skitskop, you get spectacular views as far as the Garden Route.
  • Knysna’s indigenous forest offers over ten walks and trails ranging from between 2 to 10km. Explore Knysna’s diverse wildlife including birds, fern trees and frogs through the scenic hiking routes filled with picnic spots and drinkable water streams. Tourists can visit the Forest Legends museum located in the heart of the forest, dedicated to woodcutters, timber merchants, botanists, settlers, and the Knysna elephant. The adjacent tea room is also a popular eatery.
  • The Thesen Islands comprise 19 man-made islands linked by bridges arching over the clear blue water. The Islands are popular for the 500+ houses built in colonial maritime style and for the rare Knysna seahorse – the first seahorse in the world to be listed as endangered. There are stunning beaches on every island where watersports like kiteboarding, boating, windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and swimming are popular.
  • Situated on just over 4 hectares of pristine natural beauty on the banks of the famous Knysna lagoon, you’ll find the Premier Resort The Moorings, Knysna, surrounded by indigenous forests. A mere 3km from the town centre, it offers 133 rooms/ suites all with private access to the lagoon, a large outdoor pool, on-site restaurant/bar and kids club playground. The outdoor activities at the hotel and surrounding area include fishing, golfing, boating, swimming, mountain biking, hiking and bird watching. 
  • Located on the Western Head of the Knysna Lagoon, the Featherbed Nature Reserve is a stunning piece of paradise with a nature reserve, hiking trails, restaurants and boat tours accessible only by a ferry.
  • Bollards Bay Beach is a family-friendly beach located on Leisure Island in Knysna. It is popular for watersports like kite-boarding, boating, windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and swimming. The water is warm and safe – even during the winter season.
  • Steenbok Nature Reserve is a natural paradise located on Leisure Island in Knysna. It is home to over 200 flowering plants and more than 100 tree species. It is an excellent location for nature walks, bird watching, picnics and viewing indigenous flora and fauna.
  • The Knysna Waterfront is located on the Garden Route and is popular for its stunning views and leisure activities. It has many restaurants serving fresh seafood and authentic African cuisine as well as stores selling designer clothing, jewellery and souvenirs.
  • Buffelsbaai is a super chilled town about 20 km from Knysna, that’s highly reputed for its great surfing and swimming spots.
  • Diepwalle Forest is South Africa’s largest indigenous forest located on the Garden Route in Knysna. It is largely populated with yellowood, stinkwood and cape pear trees, as well as being popular for hiking and camping trips with a dedicated camping deck. A species of dwarf chameleon that is endemic to South Africa is the Knysna Dwarf Chameleon, a forest dweller that’s the master of camouflage.
  • Brenton-on-Sea is a serene resort town located a short drive west from Knysna that offers blissful self-catering chalets. It is famous for its endangered blue butterflies, laid-back vibes and breathtaking sunset. Margaret’s Viewpoint, located along the road, is known for its stunning view of the Knysna lagoon, lake Brenton, Outeniqua mountains and Belvidere Estate. 
  • The Garden of Eden is a hiking trail located next to the N2 in Knysna. The easy trails lead to a wooden walkway through the forest and over beautiful streams for over a kilometre. It is a superb spot for bird watching.
  • The Knysna Elephant Park is the primary location to interact closely and safely with African elephants. There’s a special elephant experience with informative displays and photographs followed by a hike that follows them as they journey through the park.
  • You can tour the Knysna Gin Distillery, located on Uil Street, that serves traditionally distilled Knysna Gin. Visitors flock for a detailed distillery tour to taste the award-winning Knysna gin made with nine natural botanicals. And the distillery is famous for practising the traditional method of using copper pot and flame for its distillation process. 
  • The Motorcycle Room is a museum dedicated to vintage motorcycles with a variety of over 100 old classics, motocross, vintage enduro bikes and superbikes. It is located on the top floor of the Parking Shed on Long Street in Thesen Island. 
  • Knysna houseboats are fully equipped self-drive houseboats on which tourists can cruise along the historic Knysna lagoon and the surrounding bays, mountains, and forests. Enjoy sunbathing on the deck, diving in the clear lagoon waters, kayaking, and bird watching. There are many great fishing spots across the waters with hermit crabs and seagulls.
  • Vic Bay is a paradise for surfing lovers, just 3 kms away from George that offers surfers long rides in the water. This easily accessible surfing spot is enclosed by rocky cliffs on both sides and has a beach setting in the middle. A lush green lawn makes the bay more special for picnic goers.

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