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We take a look at what makes South Africa's Mossel Bay Unique

Doing Mossel Bay

By J.F. Kloppers

A temperate climate, deep historical roots and a well developed tourist infrastructure make Mossel Bay far more than just the gateway to South Africa's the Garden Route.

It’s a little after six on a Tuesday morning in March. The tide has turned and is starting to surge back in over the reefs. A brisk south-wester had blasted through the previous night, grooming two days of messy onshore southeasterly conditions into perfect three- to four-foot waves. Having done its job, the southwester died somewhere in the early hours, leaving the tidal pool still as a mirror.

In the background, due north across the bay, the peaks of the Outeniqua range outline the horizon. The hamlets of Great Brak River, Tergniet and Glentana are just visible. Further west it seems George and beyond is smothered in cloud, once again.

Up on the hill to the southwest, the whitewashed walls of Cape St Blaize Lighthouse, a beacon for navigators since 1864, gleam in the dawn rays. The surfer discards T-shirt and boardshorts for a thin 3/2mm wetsuit (air and water are both around 18 degrees) and paddles out just as the low, diesel-engine din from the commercial fishing fleet becomes audible across the water. They’ll be in the harbour soon to offload last night’s catch. Cob, hake, sought-after local sole and yellowtail, perhaps.

After playing in the right-handers that break over Outer Pool’s shallow reef, the surfer will head into town to plug into the real world, doing just enough to pay for rent, travel and that new custom-shaped surfboard he’s just ordered. If the conditions stay the same he’ll surf again around high tide, perhaps Inner Pool this time; if not he’ll go fishing. Or perhaps put some trail mileage in the legs at St Blaize. Hell, maybe he should just have a beer on the deck at Blue Oyster, like he did yesterday.

This is Mossel Bay. Hidden behind the cloak of industrial buildings and badly designed face-brick complexes visible from the N2 (on which most people simply drive by) lies a true holiday gem.

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