Named after the Milkwood tree, Melkbos (as locals refer to the town) on the west coast of South Africa, is only 30kms from Cape Town yet it still retains the feel of a relaxed, small seaside village.
Melkbosstrand lies in a marine protected area – where catching of West Coast rock lobster is forbidden – and two nature reserves, one privately managed.
The area is of great significance historically, it was behind Melkbosstrand’s Blouberg Hill in 1806 that the first colonists, the Dutch, took up arms against a British naval fleet. The Battle of Blaauwberg left the British victors, and so began South Africa’s second – and final – occupation under British rule. But for a brief period in our history, the country remains a member of the Commonwealth.
The long, white sandy beaches are flat with grassed-off areas above the high-water mark, making Melkbos an ideal family beach outing. Your children are never out of your sight! Take along a picnic basket and enjoy the southerly view of Table Mountain and Robben Island directly on the horizon.
If you are looking for a holiday purely to relax and unwind, we definitely recommend Melkbosstrand.
Top 10 reasons to visit Melkbosstrand
1. A number of tour operators offer sandboarding outings to the nearby Atlantis Dunes. These large dunes are enormously high and the smooth sand a brilliant white in colour, this is any serious photographers dream location! Another activity permitted at the dunes is quad-biking.
2. The nearby mission town of Mamre is worth visiting to see the historic church, water mill and Dutch East India Company soldier barracks. If you’re lucky, you might see young boys expertly riding their horses through the town or hear the unique sound of an accordion being played somewhere.
3. The Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant to the north of Melkbos is surrounded by a vast 3000ha nature reserve. The public can visit at any time to ride the mountain bike trails or walk the various hiking routes throughout the reserve. There are numerous animal species on the reserve such as the Mountain Zebra, Bontebok and Springbok that you are guaranteed to see.
4. Blouberg Hill in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve can be visited by approaching Cape Town’s Environmental Resource Management team who will accompany you to its peak and describe the surrounding fauna and flora. At the peak is a WWII radar station and majestic views of Table Bay.
5. The West Coast Ostrich Farm is an ostrich-breeding facility nearby, visit to learn more about this fascinating bird and if you dare, take a ride on one. There is a restaurant on the premises.
6. Melkbos’ pristine 7kms beach is the perfect place to learn how to surf, the waves are mostly moderate. Lifeguards patrol the swimming beach over weekends and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) has a base here, can the beach be any safer?
7. For experienced surfers, there are a number of surfing beaches to the south and all within a short distance of Melkbos. The recommended surfing spot is Horse Trails.
8. A small beach on the southern end of Melkbos is a great location for snorkelling. For those new to the sport, learning can be done in the permanent clear, natural rock pool. Further south are the underwater kelp forests where divers can get up close to curious Cape Fur seals, Rock Lobster and the small, harmless “donut” Shyshark (so called because it curls up, head to tail, when caught).
9. If you enjoy beachcombing, the seas that regularly batter the rocks at Kreeftebaai (Crayfish Bay) surprisingly spew out the delicate pale green pumpkin shell.
10. The Southern Right Whale has begun to appear in these parts more frequently in the late winter months and Melkbos is fast becoming a whale watching destination.
Cape Town International is the nearest airport, 45kms away. The MyCiti bus offers an indirect shuttle service between the airport and Melkbosstrand. There are several car rental agencies resident in Melkbosstrand, however, you can order your rental online. Uber operates in the area, if you have the app, contact them for a ride. Another option is the Rikkis taxi group.
Did you know?
In 1991, contractors digging a trench in the nearby resort of Ganzekraal discovered two bodies naturally mummified. A further twelve bodies were later found, all identified as shipwreck victims of the British Peer ship that hit the coastal reef and sank in 1896. The bodies were reinterred on an adjoining farm.
The gnarled Milkwood tree that Melkbos is named after is found all along the Cape coast. Its ability to withstand strong winds and with an almost-perfect canopy, the tree created an ideal meat chest for farmers in the days before refrigeration. The tree is protected.
The 1976-built Koeberg Power Station at Melkbos is South Africa’s only nuclear power plant that supplies the majority of electricity generated for the country. During construction, the movement of vast amounts of sand resulted in countless prehistoric shark teeth (some Megaladon) washing up on nearby beaches.
The 18-hole championship links Atlantic Beach golf course is located within a nature reserve, expect to see various buck species, tortoise, mongoose and other animals crossing your path.