From the Journal

Hidden Gems in South Africa: Off-the-grid destinations


Travel Tips

So, you want to travel to South Africa. You want to tick off those iconic tourist attractions and, as soon as that’s done you are going off-the-grid and finding those hidden gems in South Africa, without the tourist rush.

Sound good? We thought so.

We are letting you in on three of our favourite hidden gems, all which are small coastal towns - because everyone can do with a bit of fresh, sea air. So, firstly, you have two options. You can head to the West Coast or the South Coast.

Hidden gems | 01 Paternoster

Paternoster, South Africa
Paternoster, West-Coast, South-Africa

Things to do in Paternoster

This town made its way onto our “off-the-grid” list for more than one reason. It is a destination where you can do nothing at all and still feel like it was a day well spent. While, if you were feeling active that day, you could still explore the remote beaches on horseback, venture into the ocean on a kayak or hike along the coastline. Only 2 hours from Cape Town lies the oldest fishing village on the West Coast of South Africa – Paternoster. Expect world-class crayfish, very few tourists and comfortable nights in your beachside villa or 5-star hotel.

Seafood on the West Coast South Africa
Hidden Gem Paternoster

This fishing village is best described as a barefoot luxury destination – where you can walk over to the bakery “Oep ve Koep” to buy your freshly baked bread for the day and eat seafood on the beach front, while dinner brings you to one of the most exclusive culinary experiences in South Africa with Kobus van der Merwe – a local chef. Here you will be served an authentic seven-course tasting menu in rustic, West Coast authenticity.

Paternoster West- Coast
Hidden gems Paternoster

Places to stay in Paternoster

With adventurous days, comes the need for comfortable nights. While Paternoster is off-the-grid, the town is well equipped when it comes to world-class accommodation. Beach villas are first prize when it comes to group travellers and families, while the Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel is a must for couples.

Paternoster hidden gems
Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel

Hidden gems | 02 De Hoop Nature Reserve

De Hoop Nature Reserve is one of Africa’s most remote coastal reserves. With 51km of white beaches and dunes to be explored, off-the-grid doesn’t get better than this, especially when you are staying in the only villa on 36 000 hectares of land.

de hoop nature reserve

Things to do in De Hoop Nature Reserve

Yes, you might be in the middle of nowhere, but adventure is at your doorstep. Just take your pick. The reserve offers the best land-based whale watching in Southern Africa, the months of August and September being your best bet to spot mothers calve in the marine protected bay.


If you are more of an active person, you can carve out your own coastal trails on a stretch of 51km or take it easy with a guided marine walk at low-tide. If you’ve had enough of the sand, fynbos hikes are up next. But don’t be surprised if you spot some wildlife too. The reserve is home to Bontebok, Eland, Zebra, baboons, hartebeest, ostriches and the elusive Cape Leopard.

Hidden gem 02
Hidden gem de hoop

To get your heart rate up you can also explore the reserve by mountain bike or take a sand board down some of the highest dunes in South Africa.

Sand boarding De Hoop Nature Reserve

Hidden gems | 03 Arniston

The small seaside town of Arniston is a hidden gem, which won’t be found without being sought out. A mere 2 hour drive from Cape Town, on the Cape South Coast, awaits pristine crystal clear waters resembling that of Greece, and untouched beaches and sand dunes waiting to be explored. Situated next to an old fishing village and surrounded by nature reserves, Arniston is the perfect getaway destination for travellers looking to experience a piece of South Africa unknown to most.


Arniston is loved for its warm turquoise waters, its never-ending white beaches and the local fishermen who still go out to sea in colourful wooden boats to supply the town with the freshest catch of the day. Declared a national monument in its entirety, the fisherman’s village, “Kassiesbaai”, is characterized by lime-washed, thatched houses and friendly locals who pride themselves in their community.

Arniston hidden gem south africa
Arniston, Overberg, South Africa

If you are looking to be active, the calm, clear waters allow for tranquil kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding trips from the harbour all the way around to the main leisure beach, Roman Beach. If you are an explorer at heart, the Arniston cave, which can only be accessed during low tide, is a must see, being a literal hidden gem due to the fact that it is obstructed from view during high tides. If you are in no rush, you can also spend your day fishing for your own catch of the day and enjoy a picnic on the beach while you are there.

The Arniston cave
The Arniston Cave
Joey Cameron
Written by
Joseph Cameron

NYC based, South African transplant, Joey Cameron, is a freelance writer, travel-nerd, natural food enthusiast, personal trainer and brand owner. Characterised by an insatiable hunger for passport stamps and a somewhat strange (non)sense of humour, he can found regularly scanning the skies for ways to up, up and getaway.


Similar articles

Gear

Safari photography tips

Top photography tips to keep in mind for that once in a lifetime wildlife encounter.

Travel tips

The Mokoro safari

A mokoro safari is a quintessentially Okavango Delta experience.

Travel tips

Botswana travel guide

Your guide to everything you need to know about the famous wildlife destination, Botswana.

Travel tips

South Luangwa National Park

Everything you need to know about this amazing Zambian park.

Travel tips

Best time to visit Africa

Looking to visit Africa but not sure when? This should help.

Travel tips

Kolmanskop Namibia: A Ghost Town

Have you heard of the ghost town in the middle of Namibia's desert?

Inspiration

Exploring the highest sand dunes in Namibia

What you can expect from a day tour to the famous sand dunes of the Namib desert.

Accommodation

Top luxury Namibia lodges countdown | 06 - 04

Find out which Namibia luxury lodges made it onto our top 6 list.

Accommodation

Top luxury Namibia lodges countdown | 03 - 01

Our top 3 Namibia luxury lodges for your next trip to this incredible African destination.

Travel tips

The Okavango Delta safari uncovered

Everything you need to know about planning your Okavango Delta safari.

Travel tips

Your Southern Africa safari experience

A quick look at what your next Southern Africa safari could look like.

Inspiration

Blyde River Canyon

Here's how to do Blyde River Canyon differently.

Gear

Photography in the Kruger National Park

Everything you need to know about Photography in the Kruger National Park.

Travel tips

Discover Kenya

Your introduction to this East African wildlife hotspot.

Travel tips

Top 10 surf spots in Cape Town

Get your boards on the roof, we're going surfing in the Mother city.

Inspiration

Okavango Delta scenic flight: A bucket list experience

An Okavango Delta scenic flight needs to be on your bucket list.

Travel tips

Etosha National Park

Find out everything you need to know about Namibia's top wildlife attraction.

Travel tips

Quad bike safari in Botswana

Everything you need to know about a quad bike safari in Botswana.

Inspiration

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro offers intrepid explorers a challenging and exhilarating adventure.

Travel tips

Hell's Gate National Park, Kenya

Five reasons to visit Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya

Wildlife

Malawi Safari: Majete Wildlfe Reserve

The Majete Wildlife Reserve is Malawi's best kept secret.

Accommodation

Giraffe Manor: An out of Africa experience

Giraffe Manor is arguably Kenya's most famous lodge. 

Accommodation

Extraordinary luxury lodges in Malawi + Mozambique

Our top picks of the luxury lodges in Malawi and Mozambique.

Travel tips

Mozambique dhow safari

Discover the incredible experience of a Mozambique dhow safari.

Inspiration

Unchartered territory

We are passionate about pioneering travel in unchartered territory.

Wildlife

A Mozambique holiday spent diving with whale sharks

Diving with whale sharks in Mozambique is a true bucket list experience.

Accommodation

Our finest Cape Winelands accommodation

Our top 3 picks for hotels in the Cape Winelands area.

Inspiration

Exotic Reunion Island

Have you heard of the exotic Reunion Island?

Travel tips

Gorilla trekking in the Congo

Find out why the Congo is the best place in the world for your Gorilla trekking adventure.

Wildlife

Eagles in the Kruger National Park

The eagles in the Kruger National Park are of the most majestic creatures of Africa. 

Travel tips

Our top picks for Braai Day

Top spots in South Africa to celebrate Braai day.

Travel log

Our African safari experience at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

When Sanbona Wildlife Reserve invited us to spend a night at their prestigious Gondwana Lodge, we were more than thrilled.

Inspiration

Top five reasons to travel in 2017

Why you need to travel, now.

Summits

Mount Meru, Tanzania: A big "little" brother

Experience the summit of Mount Meru, an active Volcano in Tanzania

Inspiration

The Otter Trail: A South African adventure

Everything you can expect from South Africa's oldest hiking trail.

Guide

Our Cape Town guide: Experience a day in our lives

To make your time in our backyard the best that it can be, we’ve handcrafted a comprehensive, interactive Cape Town Guide.

Guide

The latest additions to our Cape Town guide

We just came across 3 spots which, you’ll agree, you need to know about. Soon to be added to our guide, but check them out now.

Ambassadors

7 Summits: Justin De Wet

Ker & Downey Africa Ambassador Justin De Wet chases entrance to the 7 summit club.

Inspiration

Safaricom marathon: Kenya

Everything you need to know about the wildest marathon in the world.

Inspiration

Cape to Rio: Clyde Barendse

A week before their departure, we met up with Clyde for a quick coffee to get a sense of where his head was at before his Cape to Rio race.

Inspiration

An African adventure for every terrain

A quick guide to choosing which African adventure type best suits your travel style, preferences and personality.

Wildlife

Walking with wild dogs in Kenya

There are few adventure options in Kenya, or the world, that offer the experience, thrill, remoteness and adventure of walking with wild dogs.

Inspiration

An adventure honeymoon: Reunion Island

There comes a time in every man’s life to settle down and tie the knot. That’s the easy part. The challenging part? Finding an adventure honeymoon destination.

Inspiration

Travel cues: Recommendations for your time off

If you are running out of ideas, have no fear, we have the travel cues you should know about.

Lifestyle

Reset your body clock under the African sky [life hack]

Dr. Wright’s recent study has shown that one week spent exposed to the Earth’s natural dusk-to-dawn cycle is enough to reset our human circadian clock.

Inspiration

Climbing Mount Kenya

We break down everything you need to do to get from that office chair to the summit of Mount Kenya.

Travel tips

Nightcaps: African drinks to pursue

In Africa, ending off our ultra-adventurous days with something a bit stronger than our 7am coffee comes with the territory.

Gear

Drone photography: Tricks of the trade

Drone Photography has skyrocketed to become the most captivating means of documenting the world from above and we have to admit, we are hooked.

Ambassador

Joe Pietersen: Rugby, rhinos + drones

We sit down with Ker & Downey Africa Ambassador, Joe Pietersen.

Travel tips

African travel tips

8 of the most important things to keep in mind on your next trip to the African continent.

Inspiration

Backtrack your trip: 5 songs to add to your playlist

You’re off to Africa. Everything has to be perfect, even your playlist.

Inspiration

You don't need a reason to visit Victoria Falls

You don't need a reason to visit Victoria Falls, but we've listed five great ones for you anyway.

Travel tips

South African national parks + game reserves

 South African national parks + game reserves should be on the bucket list of anyone with a healthy appetite for wild LuxVenture® destinations.

Travel tips

Top 5 travel apps

Book your flight, pack your bags, grab an Uber to the airport and be sure to download these 5 apps along the way.

Travel tips

City sightseeing in Cape Town

We can all agree that nobody knows a city’s sightseeing secrets better than the locals. Here's how to see Cape Town like one of them.

Ambassadors

Climbing Mount Aconcagua: debrief

When you start considering -20 degrees as good weather and you are taking out emergency evacuation insurance up to 5000m above sea-level, we think it’s safe to say that you are taking your hobby to the next level.

Travel tips

Travel like a pro

One word comes to mind when people ask me how to get ready for travel in Africa – preparation.

Travel tips

Gentleman’s guide to the safari outfit

Wearing the right safari outfit is crucial. Being in the right gear allows you the opportunity to focus on what's important - the wildlife.

Lifestyle

African Coffee + where to get your fix

If you’re visiting South Africa, Kenya or Tanzania, here are the top African coffee spots to check out.

Inspiration

Golf tournament getaways: South Africa

Here is a guide to the best African Golf tournaments, courses and getaways in South Africa. 

Ambassadors

Francois Malherbe: On his expeditions, Land Cruisers + Mike Horn

Here is a man who said no to the corporate world and followed his gut in pursuing his passion for exploration.

Accommodation

Masai Mara hotels and lodges

Accommodation

Okavango Delta lodges and camps

Accommodation

Zanzibar hotels and lodges

Accommodation

Grumeti Reserve lodges and camps

Accommodation

Makgadikgadi Salt Pans lodges and camps

Accommodation

Sossusvlei hotels and lodges

Accommodation

Moremi Game Reserve lodges and camps

Accommodation

South Luangwa lodges and camps

Accommodation

Kruger National Park lodges and hotels

Travel tips

Victoria Falls Lodges and Hotels

Which Victoria Falls lodges and hotels we recommend and why.