Situated in De Hoop Nature Reserve near the southern tip of Africa, Lekkerwater is a magnificent beach lodge. Just over three hours’ drive from Cape Town, it offers a unique, all-inclusive coastal escape on a six-kilometre stretch of private beach. In the winter season, this spot boasts some of the finest shore-based whale watching on the planet. In fact, Time magazine recently named Lekkerwater one of the world’s top 100 must-visit destinations.
My partner and I arrived in De Hoop one dreamy autumn day with a ghostly mist fringing the shoreline. As we drove over a tall dune, the scene that greeted us was sublime. Lekkerwater appeared below looking like a shipwreck on the Overberg shore, its grey-timber buildings perched just above the thundering waves.
The lodge comprises a main building that’s elegantly done in natural fabrics and driftwood, with a plunge pool and wraparound deck for endless coastal gazing. Each of the seven guest rooms has floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer stunning views of the Indian Ocean. The décor is inspired by the shoreline and rendered in cool blues and greys. There’s also a wood-burning stove in each room for cosy winter evenings, and a private veranda for endless, mesmerising gazing.
Lekkerwater started life as the holiday cottage of the Green family back in 1939. Much of this coast was expropriated for an Armscor missile-testing range in 1983. After part of the land was set aside to form De Hoop Nature Reserve, Lekkerwater became President FW de Klerk’s ‘Camp David’, where many discussions about the future of South Africa took place.
After 1994, the house was returned to CapeNature for rental to the public, but burnt to the ground during a lightning storm in 2015. Natural Selection, a company co-founded by ecotourism guru Colin Bell (formally of Wilderness Safaris) submitted a successful proposal and the result is a fabulous off-grid 16-bed lodge in one of the most spellbinding locations anywhere on the shores of Southern African.
A stay at Lekkerwater is all about full immersion in Cape coastal nature. We enjoyed guided fynbos walks to learn about the endemic flora (proteas, mesems, geophytes), the fauna (eland, bontebok, Cape mountain zebra) and birds (more than 260 species have been recorded, including the world’s largest breeding colony of Cape vulture). At low tide, guests amble to nearby rockpools to learn about the intertidal zone and search for octopus and fat-fingered starfish. My partner and I donned masks and snorkels to float delightedly about in bath-warm, kaleidoscopic pools filled with urchins, anemonies and crustaceans. As this is a marine protected area, the sea-life is impossibly rich.
In the evenings we gathered for drinks on the beach, ringed by lanterns and serenaded by the roar of surf. Bottlenose dolphins played in the shore break and out at sea, southern right whales by the dozen bobbed and blew and lob-tailed.
Dinners at Lekkerwater are communal affairs featuring local cuisine and superb Overberg wines. An open-plan, interactive kitchen is at the heart of the lodge and guests dine en famille. Conversation turned to the room’s large mural on one wall that depicts the history of the area, from early hunter-gatherers to the present day, and the anecdotes trailed deep into the night. Then it was back to our room to slide open the door and let the ocean inundate our dreams…
What we love!
What you need to know…
Reviewed by Justin Fox
• 6 x bedrooms (king/twin convertible)
Open plan en-suite bathrooms with shower
Toilet in separate cubicle
• 1 x family room (king/twin convertible & twin singles)
Open plan en-suite bathroom with shower
Toilet in separate cubicle
All linen & towels provided
• All meals included
• Coffee plunger
• Fireplace (wood)
• Hot water bottles
• Large deck with fire pit
• Servicing is available on request
• Plunge pool (no net)
• Wood-fired hot tub on the beach
• No animals permitted
• Smoking outside only
• Child friendly
• Max 14 adults
• Max 2 children
• No children under 6 yrs
• Check-in: 14:00
• Check-out: 10:00