A wild beach in a private nature reserve, Grotto Bay is a real escape and yet only a short drive up the West Coast from Cape Town. The small residential estate within the 685 hectare nature reserve has a seaside village feel of whitewashed simplicity even in the spacious family beach houses, lending themselves to easy summer living. A winding path along the dunes or an adventurous scramble over the rocks leads to the broad curve of a white sand beach strewn with shells. Hidden away and inaccessible by car it’s rarely busy so you can enjoy peaceful picnics and long morning walks along the coastline.
Grotto Bay Private Nature Reserve conserves long rolling stretches of Strandveld and Sandveld bush (and fragments of Renosterveld) which burst into bright flower in springtime, explored by a network of hiking trails. Wild buck roaming the reserve include duiker, steenbok and greysbok, there are ostriches, tortoises and more than 150 species of birds: north of the river mouth is a protected breeding ground for the African black oystercatcher It’s not unusual to see dolphins in the bay and whales in winter. Take your sundowners out to perch on a rock above the beach as the sun sets, or enjoy the ocean views from your verandah while the fire burns ready for a sociable braai.
If you feel the urge to explore by car the small inland town of Darling is close by, the nearest place to find shops and cafes and a focus of the wild flower season in spring. Some of the hidden Darling Wine Route wine estates are well worth a visit including the monthly market at Groote Post. The West Coast Nature Reserve around Langebaan lagoon offers more unspoiled natural beauty, wildlife and watersports; but if you arrive at Grotto Bay well-stocked with food, hiking boots, mountain bikes, buckets and spades and a good book or two there’s a temptation never to leave this tranquil and beautiful spot.