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A haven for artists and writers seeking solitude, Onrus is a small village at the entrance to the renowned whale watching town of Hermanus in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The village lies alongside the Onrus River where a beautiful lagoon with pockets of natural pools empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Onrus, meaning restless in Afrikaans, is so named because the crashing of the sea waves is believed to be noisy. A rather lame reason and why the residents prefer to call their village Onrust.
Onrus is a popular surfing spot and has a wide sandy beach for families to soak up the sun in peace while their children safely explore the many rock pools. A unique structure in Onrus is the tiny Greek Church, built by two women artists who dedicated the chapel to St Luke. The village is a short distance to Hermanus, however, Onrus has its own sterling views of whales and other sea life entering and leaving Walker Bay.
Top 5 reasons to visit Onrus
1. Head to the beach for some whale watching during the winter months. Sightings can be made while enjoying a meal at the Milkwood café on the beach or on a chartered boat from Hermanus harbour.
2. Surfing the left breakers here are pretty radical, only attempt if confident, otherwise head further up the coast for calmer waters. Nearby Sandbaai is also a popular surfing beach.
3. The natural vegetation in the Hoek-van-die-berg Nature Reserve attracts various animal species. Join a hiking group to walk through the reserve to reach Hawston along the coast. Expect to see Chacma baboon troops and various antelope species.
4. Experience a tasting of the region’s wines at the boutique Whalehaven Winery and the larger Hermanuspietersfontein Cellar, both located at the Hemel-en-Aarde Shopping Village, a stone’s throw away. A food and wine market takes place at the centre every Saturday.
5. Visit the Onrus Gallery to see the excellent collection of South African old masters and contemporary works on show. The owners are both artists and art dealers and regarded as experts in their field. Open 7 days a week.
Onrus is 100km away from Cape Town International Airport. Two car rental agencies are based in Hermanus to hire a vehicle or book a rental online. Use the Tuk Tuk Transporter service for location hopping in Hermanus. John’s Hermanus Taxis offer shuttle services between Onrus, the Cape Town airport and Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
Did you know?
The St Luke’s chapel has space for a maximum of 8 worshippers and is the smallest Greek Orthodox Church in the country. Ex-State President FW De Klerk married his 2nd wife here. The church is privately owned, phone beforehand before visiting.
The oldest building in Onrus was believed to have been built using timber recovered from the 1852 Birkenhead wreck. The house was known as the blind house because it had no windows facing the sea.