Top 5 | Things To Do In Betty’s Bay

things to do in bettys bay

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There’s something about the small coastal towns along the Western Cape’s shoreline that I find so intriguing. The locals’ way of finding pleasure in the small things is something everyone can learn from.

On my soul-searching quest, I came across Betty’s Bay, renowned for its natural beauty. I knew instantly that to decompress from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I needed to take a trip here. I believe that the best way to relax is to be in nature, and Betty’s Bay would be the perfect escape, with its stunning coastal and mountain landscapes.

Let’s just say I got everything I wanted – and so much more. Although fairly simple, this small holiday town packs a punch when it comes to things to do.

From picnicking in Harold Porter National Botanical Garden to visiting the local penguin colony, I did it all! And I hope that by sharing my list I can convince you to give Betty’s Bay a visit – you can thank me later!

1. Waddle With Some Penguins – Stony Point Penguin Colony

Stony Point Penguin Colony in Betty's Bay is a captivating wildlife sanctuary along the Western Cape coastline, home to a thriving colony of African penguins

Location: Wallers Rd, Betty’s Bay

This was probably my “highlight” of highlights when I visited Betty’s Bay, which is why it’s top of my list. Being originally from Glasgow, I never expected that one day I’d get to see penguins on the beaches of South Africa. Obviously, I was quickly educated when I went to visit Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town.

Similarly to Boulder’s Beach, the Stony Point Penguin Colony is home to around 3,600 penguins, making it one of the world’s largest African Penguin breeding colonies. To get the best sightings, follow the boardwalk through Stony Point Nature Reserve. From here, you can watch the penguins go about their business without bothering them.

But the penguins are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to local wildlife. When my partner and I visited, we spotted cormorants, gulls, Rock Hyrax, and even the occasional Grey Heron. I may not be an avid bird-watcher but it was still a unique experience.

There’s a fascinating history here, too. The reserve is built on the site of an old whaling station from the early 1900s, and you can still find remnants of the machinery from that time.

One of the best things about the trip was knowing that this place is dedicated to conserving endangered seabird species. They’ve even put up predator-proof fencing to protect the penguins. It’s a place that not only offers incredible wildlife encounters but also contributes to their conservation.

So, if you’re into wildlife and want to do something different, the Stony Point Penguin Colony is a must when it comes to things to do in Betty’s Bay.

2. Picnic Among the Flora – Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens

Location: Corner of Clarence Drive and Broadwith Rd, Betty’s Bay

My main goal when visiting Betty’s Bay was to be one with nature. Instead of going on the usual hike around Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, my partner and I felt like doing something more relaxing, and a picnic sounded like just the thing.

Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens is like a miniature Kirstenbosch Gardens. But don’t get me wrong, it’s by no means small, covering around 200 ha of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. It also boasts roughly 1,600 different plant species!

The gardens are serene with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

I find that there’s something quite intimate about having a picnic with someone you love. Armed with great snacks and no distractions, it was the perfect way for my partner and I to reconnect.

You just need to keep an eye out for baboons that may be lurking in the gardens. To avoid any unwanted encounters, keep your food packed in your picnic basket and don’t get too close to them.

Note: There is an entrance fee for Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens of R50 for adults, R20 for children, and R40 for pensioners.

3. Go for a Walk – Palmiet River Trail

The Palmiet River Trail in Betty's Bay is a nature lover's delight, offering a scenic hiking experience along the tranquil Palmiet River

Location: Starts at Kogelberg Nature Reserve Reception on Oudebosch Rd, Betty’s Bay

Betty’s Bay is all about relaxing. However, there is only so much relaxing one can do. After a couple of days of lounging about, I needed something to get my blood pumping. I wasn’t in the mood for a full-blown hike, but a long walk sounded good. After chatting to a couple of the Betty’s Bay locals, I was recommended to try the Palmiet River Trail.

The walk starts from the parking area at Kogelberg Nature Reserve’s reception, which is around a 13-minute drive from Betty’s Bay. You’ll need a permit for the walk, which you can get at the Cape Nature office at the trailhead or by contacting their call centre on +27 (0)87 087 8250.

The reception opens at 7:30 am and I suggest getting there early – they don’t allow you entry after 2 pm (closing the reserve at 4 pm).

The Palmiet River Trail is a 10.1 km loop trail. But don’t let that scare you! The walk is flat and you will mostly plod along next to a river that runs through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. The views of the surrounding hills and mountains add to the serenity of the walk.

The best part? At around the 5 km mark, there’s what’s known by the locals as ‘”the beach” where you can enjoy a dip in the water to cool off. My partner and I spent a good hour here dunking in the water and fuelling up on some snacks. This was a great way to break up the entire 10 km and gave us that burst of energy to make the journey back.

I’ll certainly be back to do this walk again! See you there?

4. Hit the Sand Dunes – Sandboarding

Location: Watsonia St, Betty’s Bay

I may have left my adrenaline-fuelled days in the past, but when I heard about this local gem I had to give it a go.

One of the lesser-known things to do in Betty’s Bay is to hit what the local professionals call The Sand Dune. According to some of the sandboarding professionals I spoke to, this is one of the best dunes in South Africa.

Located near the Stony Point Penguin Colony, this 230-meter-high dune makes for the perfect place to shred some sand (don’t quote me on that – I think the professionals might cringe).

Rest assured though, you won’t start all the way at the top on your first try – at least I didn’t anyway. Once you start to get the hang of it, you can inch your way up the dune, increasing the adrenaline high each time. You’ll also probably start out sandboarding on your knees before you work your way up to your feet (or if you can work your way up to your feet).

My least favourite part of this two-hour activity was probably having to walk back up the dune once you get to the bottom. If you’ve ever had to lug your beach bag up a sand dune you know that it’s not a walk in the park (pardon the pun). I also had a couple of mouthfuls of sand on one or two of my blunders down – not a fun experience.

This activity is on the pricier side, costing R600 per person (which includes your board rental). However, I’d recommend you give it a bash because it is quite a laugh once you get the hang of it. As the old saying goes: “try everything once.”

5. Lunch With a View – On the Edge Restaurant

On the Edge Restaurant in Betty's Bay is a culinary gem perched on the cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean, offering amazing views and delectable cuisine

Location: 2411 Una Dr, Betty’s Bay

On the Edge Restaurant is located next to the Stony Point Nature Reserve, so it’s a good idea to grab some lunch here when you’re finished frolicking with the penguins.

Like the rest of Betty’s Bay, what drew me to this restaurant was its simplicity. It is not a fine dining establishment, but the food is still fine nonetheless. As with most places you’ll find along the coast, the speciality here is seafood. However, there are some meat options available too, like a good old-fashioned burger.

Keep an eye out for their blackboard specials. This was where I got to try a South African classic for the first time – bobotie with yellow rice, which is a curried minced meat dish. My partner got the fish and chips, which came with a beautifully golden fry on it – a hallmark of a decent fish and chips.

If you haven’t had enough of the penguins, you can sit out on the deck and watch them go by. As you may have guessed from the name, the restaurant is on the coastline, giving you fantastic ocean views.

I think my favourite part of this eatery is its community-first approach. The restaurant is run by locals and operates as a non-profit, with all proceeds going towards the Mooiuitsig community. This ensures that locals also benefit from the tourism in Betty’s Bay. Now that’s some real food for thought!

So, while you’re out and about ticking off items on your “things to do in Betty’s Bay” list, I’d highly recommend giving this place a visit – if not for the good food then at least to do your bit for the community!


Can you swim at Betty’s Bay Main Beach?

Of course you can! Betty’s Bay Main Beach, located to the east of the Stony Point Penguin Colony, is great for swimming, surfing or just lounging about. Being the Atlantic Ocean, the water is not always the warmest, but it is quite refreshing to have a dip when the sun gets too hot.

Can African Penguins bite?

There’s no doubt that you’ll come across a couple of African Penguins during your stay in Betty’s Bay. While penguins are naturally curious about humans, they generally tend to shy away from human interaction. The most important thing to do when looking at the penguins, though, is to be respectful of their space and habitat. If a penguin does feel threatened, they are known to give a nasty bite.

How far is Betty’s Bay from Cape Town?

Betty’s Bay is around a 1.5-hour drive from Cape Town (roughly 122 km). While it’s usually best to have your own car to make this journey, you can organise a shuttle service to get you to and from Betty’s Bay (although it will be more expensive).

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