Paternoster is a quaint little fishing village up the West Coast about two hours drive from Cape Town and is well worth visiting. Not only do they have picturesque beaches, turquoise sea and white washed houses that at a glance make you think you are in Greece, it’s quite the culinary hotspot too. I finally got round to going this last long week-end and had a delicious time at Wolfgat, the Noisy Oyster and Gaaitjie restaurants.
You can stay in one of the luxury hotels or guest houses, and there are a few great ones on offer, but I love to go self catering. There are over 150 to choose from so you are sure to find something within your budget. I was with a couple of friends and it’s always best to rent a house and cook a few meals yourself too. Ideally you want to rent a place with beach / sea views because they are stunning and who doesn’t love sitting on a porch overlooking the sea with a glass of wine in the hand. Also being able to walk from your house onto the beach is pretty awesome and there are many houses in Paternoster where you can do just that.
The water is very icy but that didn’t stop me going for a few chilly swims. I love swimming so much and nothing was going to stop me getting into the sea. On Monday (the day we left) it looked exactly like the Med with not a wave in sight.
A really great way to book your accommodation is through AccomoDirect. They operate along the same lines as Air BnB but its a local company – so kind of like the Air BnB of holiday house rentals in South Africa. Most of the rental properties in Paternoster are linked to the AccomoDirect portal making it super easy to see everything on offer at a particular time. They have over 20 000 listings across South Africa in 2 000 locations and are expanding. The rentals are reviewed too so you can get ‘by word of mouth’ and up to date info on the properties you want to rent.
Along with all the accommodation on offer Paternoster has around 15 restaurants so you can turn this into a culinary getaway if you choose. You could actually eat out twice a day for a week and just cover them all. We only ate in three restaurants and here are a few pics and more info on those.
The highlight of the week-end was having lunch at Wolfgat on Saturday. I’ve been dying to go since Kobus van der Merwe’s opened it last year. He previously ran his small kitchen out of Oep ve Koep and at the back of Die Winkel op Paternoster as you come into town, and this is now a tea room owned by his parents. He forages local plants and seaweed to create his Strandveld food tasting menu which showcases the wild plants and seafood of the West Coast. It’s the culinary manifestation of the area and really its like eating the Wes Coast. You can check out all my pictures and the menu from our lunch here. Aside from an inspiring two and a half hour eating journey that takes you through around eight tasting dishes, an amuse or two plus a heavenly bread service, the setting is jaw droppingly gorgeous. The restaurant is housed in a 130 year old cottage overlooking the beach and sea.
We lunched at Gaaitjie on our last day and despite hearing mixed reviews about the place, I found it lovely. We sat on the front balcony (definitely the best location in the restaurant so be sure to request this when you book), and enjoyed a tasty seafood meal sipping on Springfield Miss Lucy. This wine was created specifically to be paired with seafood so is perfect in this setting. Tender calamari and prawns in kataifi started off our meal. Angelfish on pesto tagliatelle and curried monkfish with salsa and popadums followed.
We were also lucky to nab a spot and the über popular Noisy Oyster on the day we arrived and it was a delight. It’s an eclectic space with seating outside in a colorful and rustic patio space. The service was friendly and charming and the food delicious. The oysters, which come daily from Saldanha Bay were some of the best I’ve tasted in a recent memory. With Saldanha being only around 30 minutes away, they could not have been fresher. My main of pan roasted Stone Bass fillet on a potato, mussel, leek and bacon smoor was utterly delicious and I cant wait to try and attempt making this West Coast speciality at home. Make sure to book to avoid disappointment.
Sadly the fishing has slowed down and local communities are struggling with poverty but tourism is however a good economic booster for the region, providing employment. With poverty comes crime, so as a tourist visiting you need to be extra careful and not leave any valuables lying around. You will notice a lot of locals selling crayfish on the side of the road and while it was still in season (November to March / April), the Cape Rock Lobster (Crayfish) has been declared red on the Sassi endagered list so if you have a shred of consciousness around preserving the sea life in our Oceans, don’t buy them right now. Buying them out of season is definitely illegal.
Aside from this negative aspect, I found Paternoster charming with some of the friendliest people I’ve encountered in a while. Take the time to chat to everyone you can because they are a delight. There are loads of gift shops to wander around in too, and I loved Jem & Pantoffles that sell a few interesting things including a huge range of wild honey.
* This post is proudly sponsored by AccomoDirect but my trip was arranged entirely by myself. All views and content in this article are my own
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