The South African West Coast is a popular tourist destination, despite the fact that the sea is rather cold. There are a myriad of reasons to visit the region, not all of which are connected to the ocean.
Firstly, the region has a rich cultural heritage – Vasco da Gama, an ancient explorer on his way to the East, stopped here for fresh food and water for his ship’s crew. The West Coast Fossil Park carries relics from long before that. The simple fishing folk have a unique way of life, and a history of their own.
Secondly, there is a multitude of different animal species – both on land and in the surrounding ocean – to be explored. The area sports a number of game lodges, and the sea holds – in Lambert’s Bay – some of the largest crayfish you will ever see. During the local winter, a local predator fish species, known as “snoek” (pronounced “snook”) is encountered in abundance, and is caught and sold by many as a delicacy.
In the early spring, the West Coast – and a large area to the north of it as well – becomes a sea of flowers as the Namaqua Daisies suddenly bloom in their millions. It is a sight to behold, and tourists from all over the country – and the world – flock here to see it.
Of course the “usual activities” are available as well – like scuba diving, horseback riding, sightseeing, pubs and clubs, sea cruises, dive charters, and many more. However, since the region has a Mediterranean rainfall pattern, summer days are usually sunny and warm, allowing perfect weather most of the time.
Lastly, of course, there is the matter of a weak local currency. The South African Rand is relatively weak compared to the major currencies like the U.S. dollar or the Euro, making the West Coast a relatively cheap destination to enjoy. While the travel cost is more due to the distance, the actual cost of accommodation, travel, food and activities will be considerably less than you would expect to pay in a first world country.