South African Garden Route Mossel Bay Town Travel Information

The town of Mossel Bay is along the Garden Route in South Africa between Mossel Bay and Storms River, the Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline which features lakes, mountains, golden beaches, cliffs and dense indigenous forests.

The Garden Route has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, making the region popular all year round. The harbour at Mossel Bay is one of the most modern commercial and recreational harbours on the southern Cape coastline.

The Information Canter at PetroSA (formerly Mossgas) informs visitors about the project and the production of synthetic fuels from Mossel Bay’s offshore gas fields. Other attractions include the Attequas Kloof Pass, Anglo-Boer/South African War blockhouses and the Bartholomew Diaz complex. Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale and dolphin watching along the extensive coast. Game farms hosting four of the Big Five enrich the wild and bird life.

Situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, beautiful Mossel Bay is a coastal village and harbour of the World Famous Garden Route. This popular holiday town is surrounded by a sunbathed peninsula and the refreshing waters of the Indian Ocean.

It is a busy summer destination as well as an ideal winter retreat. It is blessed with a mild climate all-year round but its most important feature is its status as the historical capital of the Garden Route.

Well-traveled pleasure boats dock regularly as well as other international seafarers using the modern docking facilities. Mossel Bay is a rapidly growing tourist destination as more and more travelers are discovering the Jewel of the Cape Garden Route. Bortholomeu Dias CrossBack in 1488 a man called Bartholomew Dias threw anchor in the Bay of St Blaize. “Aguada de Sào Bras” as it was originally known. This town was then developed as a busy export harbour for wool, ochre and ostrich feathers.

The many beautiful historical buildings in the town is evidence of the long ago happenings which the town as it is today. In 1601 the Dutch navigator, Paulus van Caerden, renamed it Mossel Bay, as he found that mussels were a most welcome addition to the diet of his crew. Today, mussels gathered in Mossel Bay each spring are rated by gourmets among the finest in the world.

Old Post Office Tree

Due to its rich history, there are many museums in the town to visit, there is the Maritime Museum which focuses on the sailing and ships of the early days of discovery, it is home to the impressive life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias’s caravel, the ship in which he sailed into Mossel Bay in the year 1488. It also displays ship models of a bygone era, route maps to the East.

The Granery is another museum which has a permanent display of fresh specimens of wild flowers found in this region, and a good selection of photographs of the many mountain passes that link the coastal area to the Little Karoo. The Shell Museum houses a very large collection of shells, and demonstrates how they were used by man through the years as tools etc.

See more about the Garden Route [http://www.travelinsouthafrica.co.za]

Grand Cayman Beaches – East Or West, All Are Best!

My tour of Grand Cayman beaches begins at the north-west tip of the island, in West End, and wanders down to the south coast, then along the road to East End before turning back north and west to the end of the road at Rum Point.

Barkers National Park

Barkers National Park: Has some beautiful beaches, unspoiled by crowds or fast food litter. There’s a price to pay, of course, and that’s the lack of amenities, apart from a few BBQ pits and picnic tables, you’re on your own here. You’ll need transport to get to Barkers but it’s worth it for the tranquility, even on many weekends.

The West End

Of all the Grand Cayman beaches, Seven Mile Beach is the big one. This is where it all happens. The sand is a fine, almost white powder, the water’s shallow, and there’s all the activities people want from a Caribbean vacation. Seven Mile Beach is where you find

parasailing, helicopter rides, jet-skis, tubing, and the usual fast food restaurants to satisfy picky kids (of all ages). Although it’s huge, Seven Mile Beach is mainly given over to resorts so for locals or those staying elsewhere it includes a number of public beaches, like ‘Public Beach’ off West Bay road, right next to Marriott Courtyard and Calico Jacks. It’s a busy beach with plenty of amenities, such as BBQ pits, cabanas, a playground for kids, and washrooms. Then there’s ‘Cemetery Beach’, which may not sound too inviting (I can’t imagine an Ad Agency coming up with the name) but it’s a great beach for snorkeling. It’s also a great beach, with trees for shade and picnic tables to make your stay more pleasant. It’s at the north end of seven mile beach, further away from the big hotels, but it has everything the more mature beachgoer needs; shade, picnic benches, and great snorkeling. Public access is also from West Bay Road.

Below George Town, off South Sound Road, are a number of small beaches, though the water is too weedy for comfortable swimming. Heading east along the south of the island, brings you to small sandy beaches at Breakers, Cottage, or even quieter spots like Half Moon Bay and White Sand Bay. At the aptly named village of Breakers, the beach is quiet but the sea isn’t. There’s no offshore reef to calm the waves here so even on sunny, pleasant days, they roll in all the way from the Atlantic and send spray flying onto the road.

Another place the waves sweep right onto the beach is a little farther east at Frank Sound, a rocky beach of bare, sharp ironshore. Not a traditional beach, in the sense of sunbathing or swimming, but it’s an interesting spot if you like rocky beaches and the creatures that go with them. Frank Sound also has the ‘world famous’ (world famous all over Grand Cayman, anyhow) blowholes. These are natural fissures in the ironshore that squirt water high into the air when the waves crash against the shore. This is a place to contemplate nature rather than work on your tan.

Grand Cayman’s East End beaches are the place for chillin’ — with the exception of the resort beaches where you have everything you want and more. East End Resorts, such as Morritts Grand or Tortuga and The Reef at Colliers Bay, have fine beaches and they’re surprisingly quiet and unpopulated. Resort people come in two types — beach folk and pool folk, and there are lots more pool folk — so even big resorts at the height of the season have idyllic beaches that don’t crowd you. Staying at Morritts gave us ample opportunity to walk and paddle along beautiful East End beaches that didn’t seem to have names but did have white sand, warm shallow water and nobody but us enjoying them. The tranquility at the East End of the island is amazing when you consider how small the island is and how many visitors it gets each year.

Continuing along the Queen’s Highway and North Side Road takes you past many more secluded, empty beaches where you can own the sand for the day. We never saw anyone on some of them. For us, it was like being Adam and Eve on vacation. Stay near Old Man Bay and you can have lunch or dinner at the excellent beachside BBQ there.

If you want more water sports, the end of the road brings you to two more Grand Cayman beaches, Rum Point and Cayman Kai. Rum Point is a public beach with golden sand, warm shallow water, trees to provide shade, a rocky point so safe even children can snorkel round safely, and an excellent, very reasonably priced, beach restaurant, the Wreck Bar. Of all the Grand Cayman beaches, we liked Rum Point best. We didn’t recognize it as a public beach the first time we saw it because it looked so much like a resort. Once we got over that we found it a great place to go. Boats or jet-skis can be rented from the Red Sail Sports shop on site, as well as trips on the catamaran and the glass-bottom boat.

Cayman Kai is a small public beach with a playground for the kids, BBQ pits and picnic tables. Like the busier Rum Point across the road, it’s popular with locals as well as visitors.

At Cayman Kai, we’ve come to the end of the tour. Only North Sound, the big bay that looks like a shark-bite, stands between us and our starting point at Barkers, which we can see from here because it’s always a clear day on Grand Cayman’s beaches.

Discover the Secrets of Phuket’s East Coast

It wasn’t long ago that the east coast of Phuket didn’t even get a second glance. It was considered by many to be too remote, too dull and too boring. However, recently it has been discovered by property buyers who would rather it remained a secret.

The west coast has always been the preferred destination in Phuket with its idyllic sandy beaches, quaint seaside towns and villages and a good mix of top quality restaurants.

Since the late eighties, when the island started to develop as a tourist destination, luxury hotels, boutique resorts and plenty of apartments and villas have sprung up on the west coast. Making it popular but perhaps a little over-crowded.

Towns such as Patong and Kata have become so popular that in high season you can’t walk down the street without being asked to buy a suit, stroke an Iguana or buy some sort of crazy gadget. Beaches are littered with sun-loungers as tourist clamber to catch enough rays before they go home.

If you like that sort of thing then the west coast is for you – but if you seek peace and quiet away from your busy day-to-day life you should take a look at the east coast.

For a start it’s less crowded – in fact it’s hardly crowded at all.

With only a handful of hotels and resorts, the east coast hosts far less holidaymakers. East coast resorts favour spa breaks, wellness retreats and relaxation; discos, jet skis and tailors shops would most definitely be out of place here.

What’s more, the east coast boasts the best views on Phuket. The islands and limestone karsts of Phang Nga Bay rise up from the ocean and as the sun sets the sky is filled with orange hues. Fishing boats meander across the waters and yachts return to their marinas for the evening.

If you enjoy boating, the east coast offers something that the west never can – marinas. Any expert will tell you that the west coast is far too choppy in the summer season to safely moor boats.

Yes, the east coast with its calm tranquil waters is ideal for boating. Phang Nga Bay is a playground for all to enjoy;it has a myriad of awe-inspiring islands, caves and deserted beaches to explore.

If you are looking to get away from everything -you should take a trip to a deserted island, and spend the day on the beach collecting shells, snorkeling or simply relaxing on the sand.

If you are lucky enough to own a boat you have a wide choice of moorings; Royal Phuket Marina with it’s up-market retail shops and restaurants, Boat Lagoon, Yacht Haven or the newest and for many the most attractive – Ao Por Grand Marina.

If you play Golf – it’s on your doorstep too.

Mission Hills, a superb Jack Nicklaus designed links course with a fabulous clubhouse, is located right on the east coast. A short twenty minute drive takes you to several other courses on the island including The Blue Canyon, which has hosted the Johnnie Walker Classic twice, and Loch Palm located in the centre of the island.

With property prices on the east coast being far less than on the west – it makes sense to consider the east for longer term living.

When you compare prices, you’ll be paying around 80,000 Baht per square metre on the east coast, whilst a west coast property of the same quality will cost you in excess of 140,000 Baht per square metre – a 75 percent difference!

There are also some superb properties available; The Bay at Cape Yamu is one of the finest examples of modern architecture to be found in Phuket.

Waterfront villas are literally 30 metres from the shoreline and come with a price tag of just 45,000,000 Baht for a 792m2 villa – try finding that anywhere on the west coast.

The neighbouring development at Baan Yamu is managed by the top five star resort Twin Palms. It offers a great range of apartments, penthouses and villas with prices starting from as little as 12,830,000 Baht – a fraction of the cost of a west coast equivalent.

The east coast is developing at a steady pace. Developers are not clambering over each other to build lots of boring apartments and over priced villas on small plots. They are building carefully planned, high quality developments.

Villas have privacy, spacious interiors and dramatic views. Condos are large and functional for longer holidays and even more permanent living.

The east coast has a certain charm. The locals enjoy a traditional way of life; fishing and rubber farming. It doesn’t have sexy beach bars, tourist hotels or parasailing…but it also has something that few places on the west coast can offer – peace and quiet.