Built on only one of four private concessions granted on the 36 000 hectare De Hoop Nature Reserve, and with its neighbouring marine reserve extending 5km out to sea (one of the largest protected marine areas in Africa), the setting of Morukuru Ocean House is one-of-a-kind. Crafted by hand in rough-hewn stone and entirely off-grid, it is sensitively designed to blend as much as possible with the surrounding fynbos – so much so that when foundations were dug, seeds were collected and replanted in the same position on top of the roof, creating a fynbos roof garden for the upper level of the house. Entirely lined in double-glazed glass, it has to be the world’s most beautiful spot for star gazing and whale viewing, with telescopes perfectly positioned for endless sightings while sipping a glass of award-winning chenin or a botanical gin… that is, if the Dutch-style hot tub hasn’t tempted you. Set in the fynbos just below the house, it’s the perfect way to start or end the day, especially after a morning spent snorkelling the rock pools or an energetic afternoon of sandboarding on the nearby dunes.
Every so often an intrepid hiker will raise their walking stick in greeting as they follow the world-famous Whale Trail along the coastal path below, but sightings are mostly of flapping whale tails and tell-tale water spouts. And over 260 birds are found here but it was the endangered Oystercatchers that we loved watching at the rock pools. Tumbling out of bed for a morning amble down the sandy path takes you to one of many rocky coves and beaches below for a quick swim or yoga session before indulging in a delicious breakfast around the pool. Meals here are as languid as you like, indoors or out, and each day is guided by the rhythms of nature and the weather. And no matter the time of year, Ocean House is deeply cocooning, calming and restful, so much so that it’s very hard to leave… but when you do, do it by helicopter. Head back over the sea, watching mother-and-baby whale pairs in the water below, then take a turn inland over the brilliant yellow and green fields of the Overberg before heading over the mountains and ravines near Franschhoek – guaranteed to give you such an adrenaline rush – just before landing at Delaire where we recommend a private wine tasting and lunch en route to the airport.
What we love!
- The isolation: Ocean House is set in one of the world’s most pristine nature reserves.
- Its light footprint: every aspect of this off-grid system is seriously impressive.
- Witnessing the miracle of whale migration and the calving season: mothers and their babies often float close to the shore.
- The pure joy of sandboarding on the dunes.
- A session in the Dutch-style hot tub, set in the middle of the fynbos.
What you need to know…
- The entire beach house is off-grid yet you can use a hair dryer, charge a phone and a laptop (if you must!). Even the underfloor heating is solar, water is filtered and bottled here and a no-plastic policy prevails.
- A heavenly massage can be arranged with a local therapist – book ahead.
- Boat trips can be booked during whale season from June to November (departing from Struisbaai, 98km from Ocean House).
- Helicopter trips can also be booked: either as a transfer from Cape Town or for whale watching. Silvercross Helicopters is recommended.
Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon