Western Cape DestinationsSt Helena Bay, Cape West Coast
St Helena Bay was "discovered" by the Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama on 7 Nov. 1497, during his pioneer voyage from Europe to India. He named the bay after Saint Helena, a devout, influential Christian and mother of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.
It was on the shores of this bay that the first encounter between a European explorer and the indigenous Khoikhoi (nomadic herders of sheep and cattle) took place. Nowadays, St Helena Bay is one of the world's principal fishing centres. The cold Benguela current surges upwards along this part of the coast and brings nutrient rich waters to the bay resulting in the abundant sea life.
In winter, snoek are caught and the harbour is a vibrant, bustling hive of activity, as the fish are sold straight off the boats. More than half of the fish processed annually in South Africa is processed here.
St Helena Bay is one of the most popular bays for whales to visit and calve. From August to November, the Southern Right Whales come in to the bay to calve, and can be viewed from the shore all around the bay. Humpback whales are also present in the area.
Heaviside's dolphins are found in large numbers at any time along with schools of dusky and common dolphins. Large groups can be seen chasing fish along the shore or simply flying through the waves out of sheer enjoyment.