McDougalls Bay, Namaqualand

McDougall's Bay is a collection of seaside cottages, homes and camp sites a stone's throw south of Port Nolloth on the West Coast, in the Northern Cape. Its beach has blue flag status and it is something of a playground for Namaqualanders, and those Capetonians who actually know it exists.

Calling it a popular swimming beach is stretching the truth a little for the water temperature seldom rises above 15 degrees, given its position on the cold Atlantic Ocean, but it's beautiful, is good for paddling, and serves as a haunt for windsurfers, kite surfers, kayaking and crayfishing.

The village is one of the last seaside hamlets to succumb to modernisation and now even the once-tired local holiday shacks have all been gentrified.

McDougall's manages, probably because of its location far enough from major cities, not to serve as a weekend bolt hole (a drive from Cape Town is a long trip that necessitates an overnight stop), so has maintained its sleepy hollow atmosphere, and its reputation for laid-back beach time and easy surfing.

If it is atmospheric, hot seaside living you are after, with endless stretches of beach for lengthy walks, then December is a good month to join the festive season crowd, if you can call it a crowd. The bay's annual Sand Festival takes place on the beach on Old Year evening, beginning with a beauty competition and including beach braais, a potjiekos competition, games, guest singers, lights and a firework display.

Otherwise McDougall's is firmly placed on the spring time Namaqualand Flower Route, close enough to attractions at Port Nolloth, the Namaqua National Park and the Richtersveld National Park.

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