South Africa’s overwhelming beauty is best appreciated from the coast. While all of South Africa offers magnificent nature, stunning wildlife and amazing culture, the bays in the south of the country show off the best of what we have to offer. If you are looking to visit South Africa for your next trip, you’ve come to the right place!
Both Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are situated at one of the most southernmost tips of South Africa. Offering the ideal mix of culture, wildlife, luxury and relaxation, these two coastal areas are both stunning spots for tourists who want a taste of South Africa’s beauty.
These popular areas aren’t crammed full of tourists, but instead offer an authentically relaxing view of South Africa for all who visit here.
In this blog, we will take you through some of the most attractive aspects of both Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, and how here at the La Vista Lodge, we can accommodate you no matter where you choose to visit!
What’s the history of Plettenberg Bay?
If you want to know more about how these luxury beach locations came to be so wonderful, here’s a brief history !
Europeans settled here as early as the 1400s, but it was only in the 20th Century that Plettenberg Bay began becoming a well-known tourist attraction. The first hotels were built here in the 1940s, and after that, more and more travellers became aware of the stunning natural beauty of the bay.
Nowadays, Plettenberg Bay is home to many hotels, and has become one of the most sought-after vacation spots in all of South Africa - for good reason!
What’s the history of Knysna?
The town of Knysna was officially founded in 1804 by George Rex, but before this, it was inhabited by the native Khoisan people. It soon became a trading port, with timber from the surrounding indigenous forests being its main export.
Today, Knysna has a population of around 60,000 people, and has a gorgeous selection of eateries and wildlife locations, easily accessible from Plettenberg Bay.
The differences between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay
Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are two bay towns that are situated only a thirty minute drive apart from one another. They are situated along the Garden Route, a famous route through southern SA that incorporates some of the country’s most beautiful spots into one journey.
While they offer slightly different experiences, and have their own unique draws, these towns are often visited by people staying in either area.
Plettenberg Bay, located adjacent to the stunning Garden Route National Park, is quite literally a picture-perfect beach location. With gorgeous white sandy beaches, crystal-blue seas and luxurious accommodations, you can’t go wrong by staying in Plettenberg.
The La Vista Lodge is known as the best hotel in Plettenberg Bay; we know how to show our visitors a good time!
Knysna, located to the West of Plettenberg Bay, is sometimes referred to as South Africa’s Garden of Eden. Yep, it’s pretty spectacular! This small coastal town is full of history, nature and, of course, the idyllic sea and sand that South Africa is known for.
If you love wandering around quaint seaside towns and finding quiet activities to do to pass the day, you’ll love Knysna.
One of the key differences between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay for tourists, is that Plettenberg Bay is better equipped with luxury accommodations than Knysna. Luckily, with such a short drive along the coast between the two, you can easily fit both these beautiful places into your trip’s itinerary!
Things to do in Knysna, South Africa
Now you have an idea of what these gorgeous places on the Garden Route have to offer, let’s take a deep-dive. Here are just some of the amazing activities on offer in Knysna, SA!
Remember, all these incredible day trips can be accessed easily by car when staying at the La Vista Lodge in Plettenberg Bay.
Don’t scroll past this one, even if scuba diving sounds a bit intimidating for you! You might think of South Africa as a no-go for diving due to our population of great white sharks; however, there are spots that are safe for divers, and Knysna Lagoon is one of them.
If you are a more experienced diver, you can head into the open water to see the famous Paquita shipwreck of 1903, located in the Knysna Heads. Full of stunning, colourful wildlife, this will surely be the diving trip of a lifetime.
Visit Knysna Elephant Park
If you love wildlife but like to keep your feet firmly on the ground, you could visit the Knysna Elephant Park for an adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Rescuing orphaned and abused African elephants since 1994, the Knysna Elephant Park allows you to walk in nature with these phenomenal animals.
If you want to get in touch with Africa’s most iconic species while making memories, the Knysna Elephant Park is the place to go.
Hike one of Knysna’s gorgeous trails
Love a good hike? Knysna will not disappoint. Whether it’s a coastal walk or a forest adventure you’re after, Knysna has both in spades.
Take the Garden of Eden trail complete with easy boardwalk access for a gentle 1km walk, or if you’re up for more of a challenge, you can take the Fisherman’s Path along the coast.
While you hike, you can see a wealth of wildlife that is sure to take your breath away. Take in the huge trees, crashing waves, colourful birds, and perhaps even spot dolphins playing in the ocean not far from where you stand.
Go shark-cage diving in Mossel Bay!
If you want to go a little further afield, shark-cage diving is an amazing activity that you can find a little further along the Garden Route in Mossel Bay. Just over an hour’s drive out of Knysna, you can experience safe diving with the world’s most ferocious apex predator, the great white shark.
Shark-cage diving involves being submerged in a totally safe purpose-built cage with other divers, where you will get up close to great white sharks that populate the area of Mossel Bay. You can see these amazing animals up-close without any danger of being hurt. It’s exhilarating, to say the least!
Visit a local farmer’s market
If you are a certified foodie and perhaps aren’t thrilled by the idea of getting up close to wildlife, you can take a more relaxed approach to your visit to Knysna. Knysna is home to delicious eateries, and has a fun local farmer’s market where you can sample delicious foods.
This experience will give you a more community-minded experience of Knysna, allowing you to immerse yourself fully into the culture of the town.
Things to do in Plettenberg Bay, SA
Now, let’s take a look at the things you can do in Plettenberg Bay.
When you stay with us here at the La Vista Lodge or any Plettenberg Bay hotels, you’ll have access to these incredible activities, and so many more, right on your doorstep!
Take a two hour drive through the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve with a professional guide
The Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is an awesome place in which visitors can experience the South African bush in all its glory. This is one of the best places in South Africa to see what’s known as the “Big Five” - meaning lions, leopards, rhinoceros, buffalo and elephants.
In addition to these astonishing sights, you also have the chance of spotting crocs and hippos, as well as the less intimidating giraffes and zebras.
This reserve isn’t just a tourist attraction - it is also a testament to South Africa’s preservation and care for these amazing species. The stunning scenery on the 2,200 hectare reserve is taken care of by specialist game experts, who are participating in helping South Africa’s wildlife to thrive.
Take a horseback safari
If you love horseback riding, there is truly no better way to see the scenery of Plettenberg Bay than this. Appreciate the wildlife up close and taste the grit of the bush by going on a guided horseback safari in Plettenberg Bay. With this up-close-and-personal view into South Africa’s wildlife, you’ll treasure these memories forever.
Go ziplining, if you dare!
Ziplining isn’t for everyone - certainly not for those who experience vertigo - but for those among you who like an adrenaline rush, you won’t be disappointed.
Drive from your Plettenberg Bay hotel to the nearby Knysna Ziplines Tour to see the cascading beauty of South Africa from a secure zipline that’ll make your heart race.
Spend a day at the beach.
If you’re looking for more of a luxurious, chilled-out vibe, you can always keep it simple and spend your days on the incomparable beaches located in Plettenberg Bay. With the beach just a few minutes walk from the La Vista Lodge, you can step out of one of our luxury suites and into heavenly sands in no time.
Plettenberg Bay is well known for its seaside delights, such as delicious food in coastal restaurants and a drink in the bar later in the evening. You don’t have to fill your days with adrenaline-filled activities - you can opt for the suite life just as easily here.
Benefits of staying in Plettenberg Bay hotels
Although both Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are stunning locations that any traveller will enjoy, Plettenberg Bay has a few key advantages. For day trips, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are on equal standing - it would be impossible to choose between the two! But when it comes to opulent accommodations, Plettenberg Bay takes the win.
Here are just a few of the key benefits of staying with us here in Plettenberg Bay.
While both Plett and Knysna have nearby airports, Plettenberg Bay has its own airport that is an easy ten minutes drive from the town. This gives tourists a hassle-free journey to and from the airport, with no traffic stress.
On the other hand, Knysna’s nearest airport, George Airport, is over an hour’s drive from the town. This is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it does slow down your journey by some time.
Knysna has a beautiful, small community that offers many amenities to visitors, but accommodations are not abundant in this area. For families, couples or single travellers looking for hotel’s that are both affordable and accessible, it’s better to stay in a Plettenberg Bay hotel.
As we mentioned earlier in the blog, the great thing about these two towns is that there’s only a thirty minute drive by car between the two.
That means that you can enjoy the accommodations offered by us in Plettenberg Bay, while still taking regular trips to Knysna and enjoying all the wonderful activities they have on offer.
Stay With Us At La Vista Lodge
When you are searching for Plettenberg Bay hotels, you may notice that the La Vista Lodge is the most well-regarded hotel in this area. We offer stunning luxury suites that look out over the white sandy beaches and blue ocean; you really can’t get more picturesque than the views from where we sit!
In addition, our top of the line restaurant and bar offers local South African wines, delicious food including fish caught locally, and a welcoming atmosphere that’ll help you relax fully on your vacation.
If you’re coming to South Africa on your honeymoon, make sure to take advantage of our Honeymoon Package, which offers free champaign, coffee, Netflix and free entry to a local nature reserve, complete with one of our most beautiful suites.
All in all, staying in Plettenberg Bay is bound to be an unforgettable vacation experience, no matter who you are or where you come from.
You’ll have an amazing time here on the Garden Route, no matter if you decide to stay in Knysna or Plettenberg Bay - but of course, we’d love to see you here at the La Vista Lodge whenever you come to visit.