Planning a Garden Route itinerary might be overwhelming and not easy since there are so many things to do and places to visit, but staying in Plettenberg Bay is a must! So if you’re wondering where to start, you’re in the right place! This guide will deliver the most amazing things to do in Plettenberg Bay!
The Garden Route in South Africa is one of the most famous roads in the world. The road is packed with fantastic landscapes and adventure activities, stretching almost 300 km between Mossel Bay and Storms River. Plettenberg Bay, or Plett, is the perfect base for exploring this fantastic coastal area. From spectacular scenery, wildlife sanctuaries, award-winning wine route, and whale migration sightseeing, Plett has it all!
However, with so much to do in the area, it’s hard to decide where to go, but I chose the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay to help you plan your trip!
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Quick Tips for Planning Your Visit
How to get to Plettenberg Bay
The first option is to rent a car and drive the world-famous Garden Route. Start in Cape Town and follow the N2 route. If you wish to move straight to Plett, it will take almost 6 hours for the 521 km. However, I recommend a few stops on the route before you reach Plett!
If you’re short on time, the second option is to fly to Port Elizabeth or George, closer to Plett. There are airport car rental services, so hop on a car and drive to Plett. From Port Elizabeth, it will take two and a half hours for the 230 km, and from George, one hour and 30 minutes for the 100 km drive.
Moving around by bus or Uber is also possible, but since most places are outside the city, the easiest way is to rent a car and discover the sites on your own terms!
When to visit Plettenberg Bay
Being an all-year-round destination, it doesn’t matter when you decide to visit since you’ll have plenty of things to do in Plettenberg Bay!
Remember, though, that December to February is peak season, so consider more people, packed beaches, high accommodation prices but gorgeous weather!
September to December is an excellent time for hiking, whale watching and game driving! However, you do have to pack some warmer clothes!
Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay
Plettenberg Bay is a lovely coastal town, home to gorgeous beaches, delicious restaurants and charming homestays! It’s a bit of a playground for the fancy and rich but has something for every budget, so you don’t have to worry about this aspect. We stayed in a lovely boutique hotel and felt spoiled every single day!
Amazing Things to Do in Plettenberg Bay
Our Garden Route itinerary meant moving places pretty much every single day. Waking up early, visiting sites, driving along the route, and stopping for a coffee might sound perfect, but it can also get exhausting in the long term. So, we were happy when we reached Plett and slowed down for a few days.
To help you better plan your days, I even compiled a four-day itinerary in Plett. This will give you a better idea of how to organize your stay.
The best things to do in Plettenberg Bay – 4-day summary
Day One. Hike the Robberg Nature Reserve. Spoil with a specialty coffee. Relax at one of the gorgeous beaches.
Day Two. Whale watching boat tour. Get up close to wildlife at Tenikwa Sanctuary and Birds of Eden Sanctuary.
Day Three. Discover the Tsitsikamma National Park. Go on a kayak trip on Storms River and check your stability on the Suspension Bridge. Take the Wine Route and sip a glass of South African wine.
Day Four. Game driving in a private reserve. Meet an Elephant at Knysna Elephant sanctuary. Fancy dinner at the Fat Fish Restaurant.
Things To Do In Plettenberg Bay – Day One
Hike the Robberg Nature Reserve
Start your first day in Plettenberg Bay with one of the best hikes in South Africa on the Robberg Peninsula, only 8km south of Plett. The Nature Reserve is a National Monument and World Heritage Site with more than 120 million years old rock formations!
The reserve is open from 7 am to 8 pm from November to April. Between May and October, the site is open from 8 am to 6 pm.
Believe it or not, Robberg Nature Reserve is a year-round destination. The landscape comes to life in the summer, and the scenery is simply mind-blowing during the winter!
Wear your most comfortable shoes and go on a circular hike to witness the beautiful landscapes. But prepare for the awful smell that comes from the resident seal colony!
Depending on your fitness level or time arrangements, there are three circular hiking trails you could choose from:
- Gap Trail, 2.1 km long, a short 30 minutes walk
- Witsand Trail, 5.5 km long, a 2 hours stroll
- Point Trail, 9.2 km long, takes almost 5 hours to complete.
The Point trek was our favorite one and we are so glad we decided to wake up early and complete it. The trail is not hard, with some ups and downs, so I can say anyone could finish it!
Hiking with picturesque views along the coast, spotting the breeding colony of Cape fur seals, climbing a sand dune, and admiring flora and fauna along the way was one of the best days on our Garden Route itinerary!
It doesn’t matter which trail you choose; Robberg Nature Reserve is a must-visit for any nature lover and one of the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay!
Spoil yourself with a specialty coffee
After the fantastic Robberg Peninsula hike, it is time to head into town. Find a cozy coffee shop, choose from a wide variety of coffee beans and think about all the things you’ve witnessed this morning! And you’re even allowed to treat yourself to something sweet! Doesn’t life feel good?
Relax at one of the Plettenberg Bay beaches
There’s nothing better than a couple of hours of doing nothing and lying at the beach after trekking the Robberg Nature Reserve or doing other activities in the area. Luckily, there are a few gorgeous beaches to choose from while in Plett.
You can spend the rest of the day at Robberg Beach, a 5 km stretch of golden sand. Not crowded at all, the best choice if you’re already in the area.
If you decide to head to town tough, Keurboomstrand Beach is the best choice to unwind.
Central Beach is the most visited one and also home to Plett rage, one of the year’s biggest events! It might get crowded as local holidaymakers spend their free time here!
Lookout Beach is a familiar spot for surfers; watching them from a distance is also fun!
Head to Singing Kettle Beach if you want to combine swimming with whale watching!
If you’re visiting in the winter months, don’t get discouraged. Taking a long walk on the beach and admiring the power of the ocean is still a great way to end a perfect day!
Things To Do In Plettenberg Bay – Day Two
Today is all about wildlife! First, embark on a 2-hour boat trip to spot the whales playing near the coast. Then, head to Tenikwa Sanctuary to walk with the cats and emerge in a world of color at the Birds of Eden Sanctuary.
Not sure about you, but I knew I wanted to join a whale-watching tour to see these amazing creatures up close during my time in South Africa! And Plett has plenty! From mid-May to February, there is a whale presence in Plettenberg Bay. Then, from June to November, Southern Right and Humpback whales pass Plettenberg Bay to nurse and breed their youngsters!
You can spot them from the shore or join a whale-watching tour and see how they play, flip their tails and stick their heads out of the water!
There are three boat tours daily, the first one leaving at 9:30 am and the last at 2:30 pm. The 2-hour boat trip will take you to some of the best spots along the coastline and you’ll get as close as 50 m to a whale! What more could you wish for?
I chose a whale watching tour with great reviews and an excellent price for you. Feel free to check it out!
Get up close with wildlife at Tenikwa and Birds of Eden Sanctuaries
Plettenberg Bay is also known for its incredible wildlife sanctuaries. Some ethical sanctuaries worth mentioning are the Knysna Elephant Sanctuary, Monkeyland, Jukani, and Birds of Eden. Without a doubt, visiting an ethical wildlife sanctuary is one of the most exciting things to do in Plettenberg Bay!
Tenikwa Wildlife started as a rehabilitation place for injured birds in 2002 and today is one of the largest active wildlife rehabilitation centers in South Africa. This Sanctuary funds the rehabilitation of wildlife through guided tours and sponsors.
What to expect? A guided walk among the cats is a great chance to learn, understand and appreciate the struggle to survive in the wild. The animals are well looked after, and the guides do a terrific job.
Remember, this is not a Zoo; they are here due to permanent injuries or saved from trafficking, therefore they will never be released in their natural habitat. The cats are free to roam in their large enclosures, and during the hot days, they prefer to tuck away, so don’t get frustrated if you don’t see one!
Tenikwa Wildlife was such a great place to experience close encounters with the cats! Getting so close to the wildlife is a memory we will always cherish! As a side note, be silent, move slowly and constantly heed the guide’s recommendations!
Birds of Eden Sanctuary
A visit to Birds of Eden Sanctuary, a vast open-air birdcage, is one of the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay! Why is it worth visiting? Because it is one of the best sanctuaries in South Africa, with around 200 bird species flying in a spacious closed aviary about 3 hectares large and up to 60 m high.
You’ll have so much fun walking through the Sanctuary and spotting birds in a beautiful jungle landscape with rivers, waterfalls, flowers, lakes and bridges! The wooden walkway takes you down to the root level of amazing tall trees before returning to a plateau almost at the level of the tree tops and the dome ceiling!
We spent a few hours there but could’ve easily stayed all day.
Things To Do In Plettenberg Bay – Day Three
Discover Tsitsikamma National Park
Time to be active again on day three, so drive to Tsitsikamma National Park, only one hour from Plett. This National Park is known for scenic hiking routes and waterfalls. You can choose the Blue Duiker trail, the Waterfall trail, the Fynbos Trail or the Dolphin trail.
The famous Otter Trail, which follows the Eastern cape coastline from Storms River Mouth to Nature Valley, takes five days to complete. However, you can still get a glimpse of it, hiking the first 6 km and having a coffee break at the waterfall. You’ll love the scenery along the way.
If you’re not in the mood for hiking, head to the Storms River Suspension bridge, a 30 minutes leisure walk from the parking lot, and explore the area a little bit before joining a gorgeous boat tour. It is called Spirit of Tsitsikamma and it’s the perfect way to unwind and enjoy the landscape!
If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you’ll be thrilled to find out that Tsitsikamma National Park is home to the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. You can try it at the 216 meters high Bloukrans Bridge, above the Bloukrans River.
Among many activities in the Tsitsikamma National Park, we really enjoyed kayaking the Storms River. We got to explore the Storms River Gorge on a two-and-a-half-hour kayak tour and explored deep caves, indigenous forests, and bottomless pools! To keep the dose of adrenaline high, we even jumped off the gorge cliffs! And trust me, if I did it, you could do it eighter!
Take the Wine Route
The Plett Wine Route stretches from the Garden of Eden to the Crags and it’s the newest and smallest wine region of South Africa. So if you missed the Stellenbosh Wine Route or want to experience a wine farm again, now it’s your chance! There are 18 wine farms in the area, of which three process and bottle their own wines. You can find Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc varieties.
Book a tour at Bramon Restaurants Wine Estate, the first estate to produce wine in Plett. Besides sampling the wine, you can have a picnic, go on a cycling trail, or on a horse-drawn carriage tour.
Things To Do In Plettenberg Bay – Day Four
Encounter wildlife at Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve
While Kruger and Addo National Parks gain the most attraction, I highly suggest finding a smaller park and booking a 2 hour guided game drive.
Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is located a short 20-minute drive from town and joining a guided tour will give you a different perspective on wildlife.
On this game drive at the foothills of the Tsitsikamma mountains, you’ll spot elephants, rhinos, leopards, giraffes, hippos, crocodiles or zebras in their natural habitat.
Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is home to three of Africa’s Big 5. Birdlife is also abundant, so definitely check this place while staying in Plettenberg Bay. Or stay overnight in luxury accommodation!
You can join a 2-hour horse safari if you feel adventurous and don’t want to hear the engine noise. The guide will take to various areas where different animals can be glimpsed and give some information about them.
Meet an elephant at Knysna Elephant Sanctuary
After seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, now it’s time to meet a herd of elephants.
The Knysna Elephant Park was the first facility in South Africa to house and care for relocated animals, orphaned calves, and elephants rescued from culls. Some of the elephants become part of the resident herd, and others, depending on their personalities and needs, have moved onto other reserves in South Africa.
So head to Knysna Elephant Park, a short ten-minute drive from Plett and join one of their tours to discover more about this place. You’ll learn more about these incredible animals and get to feed them and even touch them! So buy the bucket of food and be prepared for a humbling experience!
Hearing their life stories is fascinating and the encounter is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Walking free with these gentle giants is breathtaking and one of the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay.
Don’t leave without having a coffee and a dessert at the in-house cafeteria!
Spoil yourself with a delicious dinner at the Fat Fish Restaurant
Not sure about you, but when it comes to food, I can talk about it for hours and trying all kinds of dishes during my travels is something I treasure. Our Plett host recommended the Fat Fish restaurant to us, and what a find! We enjoyed this place so much, so we ended up having dinner every single evening here!
The Fat Fish is a favorite with locals and tourists alike, known for its high standards of quality seafood and knowledgeable staff. In addition, the restaurant offers views over the ocean and the gorgeous Beacon Isle Hotel.
Book a table with sea views and enjoy some of their delicacies, like fresh fish and seafood, delicious sushi, or meat steaks accompanied by South African wine. Having dinner at the Fat Fish is one of the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay, I guarantee it!
Things to Do in Plettenberg Bay for FREE
Whale watching from the coastline
If you truly want to spot those incredible animals but don’t want to join a tour, there is no need to worry. You can easily spot them from the Whale Tail Lookout Point.
Leave the car at the designated area and head to the lookout point. There are a couple of benches where you can sit and enjoy a picnic! Look for the whales in the distance! Depending on the time of the year, don’t be surprised if you notice dolphins or even sharks.
Drive the Beachy Head Drive – the South African millionaire’s drive
If you’re into road trips and scenic views, you should hop on your car and drive the road along the Robberg Peninsula. You’ll come across some of the most lovely houses in Plett! Maybe it doesn’t sound like something you would typically do, but trust me, you will enjoy this drive!
Hike through Tsitsikamma National Park
Besides the famous trails in Tsitsikamma, there are a few you can make without reservation or hiring a guide. Tucked between the sea and the mountains, with the Storms river flowing in between, you will love taking a scenic trail here!
Hit the beaches
One of the best things to do in Plettenberg Bay is to spend time at the beach! The jaw-dropping sand beaches are something not to be missed, no matter which time you are choosing to visit. During the summer months, you can lay in the sun, watch surfers in the distance, and take SUP lessons. During the winter months, you can take long walks on the beach and enjoy the views!
Interactive Map of the Things to Do in Plettenberg Bay
Underneath, you’ll find a customized map that includes all the locations mentioned in this article. Just open up this article on your phone and click on the frame in the upper right corner of this map. Google Maps app will open up and you can check all the details. I hope it helps!