It’s a Friday and the sun is quickly disappearing behind the hills. The beach is almost deserted and the streets leading to it are quiet. It’s not what you’d expect from a beach town in summer. But school’s have just re-opened and Stilbaai is relishing in its stillness once more.
We backtracked from the beach and made our way to The Anchorage, a gem of a place away from the dense mass of suburbia. As with my arrival, I noted how all guests arriving over the weekend were met with the same genuine warmth and friendliness by Annette and Craig. With a home like theirs, it’s easy to see why they exude such cheer.
The Anchorage sits on a small plot that has river frontage and is the kind of place that demands relaxation. Sitting on the porch watching the sun set, taking a plunge in the solar heated pool, lounging in the guest lounge with a book in hand… it’s easy not to leave the property. But you must. The river and beach await.
After a quick breakfast prepared in the room, we took one of the canoes available for guests and ambled downstream on the Goukou River towards the mouth. It’s a 4km route to the mouth, and if timed with the tides, makes for an easy excursion to the beach. (If you’re more energetic, the river is also navigable upstream for about 17km.) The river is shallow in places and is clear and inviting for a swim. Unlike the calm river, the sea had pleasant waves that were perfect for body boarding. Later that weekend, we returned to the beach for an early morning walk at low tide. The exposed rocks covered in sea lettuce provided a lovely contrast to the golden sands and colourful beach houses.
Back at The Anchorage, we retreated for an afternoon of further relaxation. The rooms are of a comfortable size to spend a weekend or even a few days. Best of all is the porch overlooking the field alongside the river.
Stilbaai is not known for gourmet food or great restaurants. However, one establishment that stood out was The Press Room, set in gardens just outside town. They’re open for breakfast and lunch, and although having a limited option for vegetarians, the pizzas and salads are worth tucking into.
Stilbaai is one of those coastal towns you could easily give a miss as you whizz along the N2. It’s far enough from the highway to maintain its quietness. But also close enough to Cape Town (under 4 hours) to make it an option for a relaxing weekend getaway.