Mossel Bay, South Africa
Mossel Bay is a coastal town along South Africa’s scenic Garden Route, and the launch point for cruisers to explore everything from ostrich farms in the Little Karoo to a high-altitude bungee jump in Tsitsikamma National Park. But you don’t need to leave the immediate area to have plenty to do and see. Even though Mossel Bay isn't as glamorous as its eastern neighbors Plettenberg and Knysna, it's endowed with a wealth of natural wonders: a laid-back beach to lounge on and more than enough adventure activities to please any adrenaline junkie.
What We Love
Whale Watching: Both wave jumping southern right whales returning to their breeding grounds and humpback whales fueling up on sardines can easily be spotted along the coast from land. For a more intimate encounter with these massive mammals, sign up for a whale watching charter.
Best Known For
Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex: Dias was a famous Portuguese explorer, and this complex of buildings and its surrounding grounds showcase the early history of Mossel Bay when it was a regular stopover for Portuguese mariners sailing from Europe to India. Highlights include a history museum, a replica of a 15th-century ship, and the 500-year-old "post office" milkweed tree where sailors would leave their letters hoping they would be delivered (incredibly, they were).
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Who It's Best For
Adventure Seekers: Mossel Bay is a one-stop shop for adrenaline junkies, with world-class surfing, shark cage diving, tandem sky diving, and bungee jumping.
Marine Animal Lovers: In addition to whales, the waters here are home to dolphins and sharks. There's also a massive colony of Cape fur seals.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Whale Watching Is Seasonal: Whales only visit the area from June to November; at other times of year, you won’t be able to spot a single one — even on boat excursions. So if marine life is your prime interest, be sure to time your cruise right.
Melissa Klurman is a New Jersey-based contributor to Sherman's Cruise who also edits and writes for Frommer's Travel Guides.