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The Heads are in the seaside town of Knysna which lies on the southern shores of South Africa in the province of the Western Cape. The area forms part of the scenic Garden Route, one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations. Due to the treacherous entry into Knysna lagoon via The Heads, Knysna never become a harbour port. Fortunately, the beautiful lagoon only supports small craft and the Heads have remained largely as nature intended.
The Knysna lagoon mouth is bounded by two gigantic sandstone cliffs known as The Heads. The eastern Head is suburban with a lookout point for spectacular views of the lagoon mouth, Leisure Isle and the estuary. The western Head is privately owned but can be visited via ferry.
The Heads are ancient dunes with embedded rock, eroded over the years, leaving behind the majestic cliffs. The channel between the Heads is 120m wide and up to 15m deep, however, sand banks occur, making the entrance hazardous for large vessels. Sailing through the Heads is a sublime experience and one that must be attempted during your stay.
Things to do
You can cruise to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, take a 4x4 drive up to the western Head and hike down to ancient caves. Then you could have a delicious meal under the milkwood trees on the lagoon shore, for a wonderful family outing. At the boat launching site, look out for the tiny Knysna seahorse, an endangered marine animal found only in the Knysna estuary.
Various catamaran operators can take you on a cruise through the Heads out into the ocean, and you could possibly encounter whales and dolphins. Some offer onboard meals and an open bar.
Spend a day in the town of Knysna to explore the waterfront, shopping malls and history. Feast on oysters collected from the beds out in the lagoon.
Visit the old Millwood Mining Town, a short drive from Knysna, to view the gold rush town and the many shafts hollowed out by gold diggers.
Where to Eat
Butterfly Blu Restaurant at nearby Brenton on Sea is known for their quality pizzas and amazing sea views. Be there to watch a sunset.
East Head Café offers scrumptious light meals and confectionary with good coffee but forget the food, the view on the terrace overlooking the Heads is supreme!
Sip champagne and feast on locally harvested oysters on a restful catamaran cruise through the Heads.
Al’s Dance Club in the town has a dance floor and Action Bar enjoyed by the younger crowd. Live acts perform here regularly.
Where to Stay
Accommodation options comprise luxurious and spacious lodges, retreats, villas, guest houses and resorts. Whichever option you choose, you can be assured of majestic views over the Knysna Estuary, the Heads and marine life & golden beaches along the Indian Ocean.
Air The nearest airport is George Airport, 70km from Knysna.
Car Several car rental agencies are based in Knysna and George airport to hire a car, or you could order a rental online.
Taxi There are a number of metered taxi companies in Knysna. Shuttle service operators transport visitors between George Airport and Knysna.
Did you know?
In 1928, a cave was discovered on the western Head that included midden deposits and evidence of a strandloper (beach walker) burial site. These beach walkers were San people, South Africa’s first nation, who travelled the area in search of food and would use caves as temporary shelter and in this case, a precarious burial chamber.
The original owner of the farm on which Knysna lies, George Rex, was a self-proclaimed illegitimate son of King George III said to have been banished to the Cape, granted land and instructed never to marry. This claim was later disproved through DNA tests.