Western Cape DestinationsMacassar, Cape Helderberg
Lying on the wind-blown rugged coastal road that takes one from Cape Town to Somerset West the long way - along the coast - is the beach of Macassar, more or less across the road from the Helderberg suburb of Macassar on the Cape Flats.
The beach, which lies on the eastern side of False Bay, has virtually no protection from the Cape Peninsula. Waves break directly on to the sand, which means they’re big and particularly popular with wind and kite surfers. On the right days, when the weather is good, there are few places to equal the beach’s beauty - particularly during the week, when only fishermen mar the impressive landscape.
Macassar’s history is closely tied to the Strand as it is from here that its first inhabitants came. The kramat (shrine) of Sheik Yussaf of Bantam, in Macassar, is one of the South African Muslim community’s holiest places. The Sheik, who was exiled by the Dutch in 1694, made Macassar his final resting place although his followers, who were mainly fishermen, found the sea off Macassar rather uninviting and moved further along the coast to Strand’s Mosterds Bay.
The Macassar Dunes Nature Reserve, in Baden Powell Drive, forms part of the vital coastal dune system, one of the biodiversity hotspots of the Western Cape. These dunes have been under enormous threat from conflicting activities, including cattle grazing and 4X4 vehicle use.
But tensions between conservation and development are being tackled and work within local communities has created various projects, such as an annual weedbuster day, where primary school children learn about alien invasive plants, water conservation and fynbos and come to appreciate the natural resource right on their doorstep.