Grotto Bay, Cape West Coast

Grotto Bay is an easily accessible coastal bay virtually right next door to the Grotto Bay Private Nature Reserve, on the R27 south west of Darling and not even an hour out of Cape Town.

The beach is wild, craggy and windswept, and the beauty immediately obvious. Better still is the largely undeveloped village where admittedly modern and large houses stand on the dunes overlooking the desolate beach, but there are few enough of them to ensure the escape you are after.

If it is nature you want to experience, then Grotto Bay is easily one of the closest towns to Cape Town in which to do so. There are kilometres of coastline, and the Grotto Bay Coastal and Nature Reserve is part of the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve, proclaimed by UNESCO in 2000. This particular biosphere stretches north from Diep River in Cape Town, all the way to the Berg River near Velddrif, covering 378 000 hectars of coastal lowland plains.

The main emphasis of the Biosphere is to make sure that any development is ecologically sustainable, and that the landscape is conserved. The Grotto Bay coastal reserve was proclaimed in 2002. A stay at Grotto Bay will be alive with fynbos, a fantastic bird life that includes the threatened black oyster catcher and windswept vistas. There are plenty of hiking trails and hours worth of bird watching and creature spotting - catch a glimpse of steenbok, ostrich, tortoise and duiker.

And if the beach and the beauty of the surrounding nature reserve are not enough to sustain you, then nearby Mamre, with its historical Moravian mission station, Darling and its accessible wine estates, or the gorgeous village of Philadelphia, make wonderful outings.

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