We have four young boys.
Holidays with small kids can be fantastic but they are inevitably not restful (read Holidays with kids aren’t always holidays) so I can’t call myself ‘the enthusiast’ when my husband suggests a family holiday away.
Months ago, his parents organised a friend’s home in Plettenberg Bay for the October school holidays and invited their children and grandchildren to join them for the week. My dad and his girlfriend also drove up from Durban to join us and we ended up having an amazing week with lots of special memories for us and the grandparents! We stayed on the Keurbooms River with access to the beach and within the security complex, the boys could race around on their bikes independently. The weather was kind, the location was magnificent and we happened to discover a few gems that might be worth visiting the next time you’re in the area:
- Radical Raptors……..Our eldest son is an animal lover so we decided to check this rehabilitation centre out. Rated number 5 on Tripadvisor among 39 attractions in Plettenberg Bay, we had high expectations and weren’t disappointed. Similar to the Owl Sanctuary at Spier, there are a number of raptors in enclosures while they are being rehabilitated. We met Dennis, who clearly has a very close relationship with each of his patients and is very intentional about making sure they get back to optimal fitness and hunting skill before release. He was deliberately educating our group and particularly the children around the dangers of household rat poison on owls and other birds of prey in the area. Radical Raptors ‘strives to provide on site facilities for the treatment of injured birds of prey and suitable secure housing for birds undergoing treatment. Proven falconry techniques are used throughout the rehabilitation process to ensure the birds are exercised and cared for in the optimal way.The highlight was the 45 minute flying display. We arrived to benches with gloves evenly positioned along them. Anyone who wanted to be involved could slip the glove on and each time a new bird was brought out, Dennis would draw the bird to each glove giving us opportunities for pictures and videos too. Ethan’s favorite was watching a drone used to mimic a pigeon flying so the raptor could demonstrate catching his ‘prey’ in flight. Dennis was knowledgable and kind to the children including them wherever possible. The entrance fee wasn’t cheap – R120 for adults (R100 for pensionsers) and R100 per child aged 3-12 but once inside, you realise the huge costs that must be involved in running such a fantastic organisation. For more information, visit their website or read some reviews here.
- The Heath Cafe and Deli is a small farm stall / craft shop and food store adjacent to Radical Raptors. It makes for an obvious choice to stop for a coffee or light lunch after the bird show. What impressed me was the extensive play space for kids particularly slightly older kids. There were high climbing frames, foofie slides and tree swings all free of charge for those using the restaurant.
- Plettenberg Game Reserve was very close to where we were staying and rated number 10 on Tripadvisor we decided to meet up at the restaurant for a big family breakfast. They are currently offering an October Special so if you’re interested visit their website for more details. The kids managed to spot many wild animals just on the drive to and from the main reception and restaurant so we didn’t commit to any official game drives or other activities offered by the reserve. According to their website,
Over 35 species of game, including lion, rhino, giraffe, hippo, crocodiles, buffalo and a large variety of antelope roam free in their natural habitat which is also home to more than 101 different bird species. It is the biggest sanctuary in the area for the endangered white rhino.
The setting is beautiful and the kids could play while the adults ate (or that was the idea anyway…)
- Ristorante Enrico is a cute, local Italian restaurant which we used on 2 evenings when we just didn’t feel like cooking. Situated at the end of the Main Street of Keurboom Strand, with a deck over the rocks and shorebreak, the view is spectacular and the food was equally as inspiring. Their slogan is “Any closer, you’ll get wet”… The restaurant had been recommended by friends and we would definitely recommend it to others. With over 600 reviews on Tripadvisor, it is rated the top restaurant in Keurboomstrand. Our first meal there was a round of pizzas and when we went back the following week, we had by this time realised Enrico’s own boat brought in the catch of the day where possible so the adults dared to share the seafood platter – what a special treat! There is a wooden walkway from the restaurant directly on to the beach so the kids could play in the sand while we were on the deck although they did need supervision when the tide was coming in. For more information, a map and the menu visit their website.
- Possibly the highlight for my husband and I was a little outing just the 2 of us to visit old friends who moved to the area 10 years ago to start Newstead Lund Family Vineyards. I’ve seen many vineyards in the last 15 years living in the Cape but there was something different about these vines. You can see the hand of a meticulous, disciplined farmer has been involved. Doug and Sue Lund are a phenomenal couple who have many wonderful stories to tell of how they have set up a wine farm in the Crags near Plettenberg Bay. I loved this quote from them, We believe that small is special. We know and nurture each vine. And because we prioritise quality over quantity, we don’t cut costs, even taking the unusual step of using netting over our vines, which results in unusually good grapes: they’re some of the most unblemished any farmer is ever likely to see, and they’re put to good use by our award-winning winemaker, Anton Small. Newstead Wines are definitely a brand of wine to watch – they are active on facebook , twitter and instagram and have received some fantastic reviews, write-ups and awards. They are obviously our current favorite. Read their story and buy their wine! We tasted their Chardonnay, their Sauvignon Blanc and the rose champagne. They now have a 4.1 rating on Vivino.
So if you’re planning a holiday with young kids in Plettenberg Bay anytime soon, visit the above respective websites and plan your trip to include these special stops.