Fact or fable there’s a story about a lost continent once existing in ancient times, that sank beneath the ocean floor and disappeared into oblivion. The discovery of lemur fossils in Madagascar and India suggested a land bridge between Africa and the Middle East, being the ancestral home of mankind. As mythical and mysterious as the tale tells, the theory is considered obsolete with geophysicists and meteorologists having their say about plate tectonics and continental drift and other scientific stuff. And so the hypothesis of the lost land of Lemuria has been buried, alongside its forgotten continent. At least until you drive the winding coastal road of Clarence Drive, into the rugged wilderness of the Koegelberg Nature Reserve, and arrive at the seaside hamlet of Betty’s Bay. Discreetly cushioned into the thicket of the Cape fynbos shrub and emerging from the soil as an exposed, slender slab of charcoal, Lemuria reveals itself like an ancient, hidden land of natural treasure, upon a secluded stretch of shoreline.
Set on one vast level of open-plan living, dining, reclining and entertaining spaces, this hideaway seamlessly marries the raw elements of nature with the magnificence of exuberant colour, vintage accessories and art pieces, and ingenious design. Four beautiful bedrooms – one of which is located upstairs, overlooking the ocean and up towards the rugged mountain range – flank the helm of the home and the Mallorcian-inspired cobbled courtyard. Every space has been sensationally styled and consciously considered to allow nature’s narrative to prevail. The blues of the sky and water, the greens, the greys and the gold of the landscape, bounce back inside, onto the walls, into the individual pieces of art and bespoke furnishings that have been collected and nurtured during the family’s years of travel and work abroad. Rough concrete ceilings and raw screed floors are embellished by the kitchen’s vibrant up-cycled antique milk canisters serving as barstools beside an Eastern European work bench. A cerulean built-in antique door frame from India, some old handmade French sporting props in the bar and a vintage wooden Indian ice fridge. Unique antique linens and prints from the Middle East alongside family heirlooms and traditional African art all speak of a curious lost land, long forgotten.
Just as the interiors escort you through passages of time, seducing with style and satiating an appetite for free-flowing sea air, so do the outdoor spaces invigorate and pacify as they introduce an escapist’s eden. You’ll start your day with the sun, as it rises and rests on the deck, with the light reaching the living spaces that are open to all of the elements. A hot brew on the lovely deck bedside the swimming pool watching the black oyster catchers dart around the fynbos, then off to explore the beaches and little pathways to secret rock pools with kelp forests and boulders covered in mussels. Being under marine protection, the sand’s awash with seaside jewels of shells and little creatures. When you’re done with the salty, sandy garden it’s back to the hammock, or the lazy loungers beside the pool, or that little cool spot with the view and a book. As the afternoon sun begins to settle and the breeze begins to shift up a notch, the courtyard beckons. You’ll dart like the oystercatchers between the bar and the wine cellar, the front deck and the kitchen, catching the light as it continues to change from golden to dusky pink. Vaya con Dios is wafting from the stereo, drifting through each space as the chicken roasts on the braai, the Chenin chills in the bucket, and the kids bellow out bursts of laughter from down the corridors, in their little secret hang-out coves. It’s apparent, as the night sets in and the breeze settles and the stars blanket the darkness, that this hideaway in Betty’s Bay has become your own little oasis of bliss. Your secret continent of beautiful things, where you and your favourite people gather to build beautiful memories, beside a beautiful stretch of shoreline.
What we love!
- Lemuria is a very special property for families to gather together as it is ideal for kids and their enthusiasm for nature; seaside exploring or just hanging out at home with all of the games, puzzles and books.
- The design of the house, the flow of the light and air that comes with it, and the direct access to the beach. Its rawness on a very special coastline – whatever the weather – gives an authentic seaside experience.
- Throughout the home the views are magnificent! Especially from the living space, out onto the deck, through the glass balustrade and into the ocean. Watching the marine wildlife surf the waves and spout above the surface all year round.
- The seclusion of the property from the beach, yet direct access, through the little side gate and onto the sand for hour-long beach walks and rock-pool dips, surfing and sand-castle building.
- Spending time in the courtyard at differing hours of the day, gathered together around the table, in the bar or the wine cellar.
- Palmiet River around the corner from the property for lazy bobbing about in warmer waters – great for the kids – and for those times that the wind begins to pump and the waves get a bit too rough and beach sand blasts the face.
- The friendly, laid-back feel of the village that’s home to the non-nine-to-fivers of this world. Artists, writers, film-makers and restaurateurs reside here, making it feel like you’ve stumbled upon your own creative pathway.
What you need to know…
- There are so many exhilarating activities not to miss out in the area from wandering through the beautiful Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, or sand-boarding down the Silversands dunes, visiting the penguin colonies at Stony Point and the Alpacas at La Hacienda when the kids feel like a change of scenery.
- For some Gnocchi, Tapas & Wine, head to Gnocchi, Tapas & Wine Bar on Clarence Drive. It’s a wonderful spot for some seriously good seafood and wine.
- There are some amazing hiking trails to explore – Brodie Link and Hangklip are the best for a couple of hours of an adventure.
- Should you wish to forage for mussels you will need to secure a permit and check with the marine reserve’s rules and regulations prior to fishing.
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie