On weekends and holidays the small seaside town of Stilbaai becomes the go-to-destination for many young families. Stilbaai is popular for its white beaches and water activities centered around the river mouth like canoeing, fishing and water skiing. Apart from the sea and river there is plenty more to keep the kids busy with in this coastal town than meets the eye.
The Stilbaai Tourism Bureau is located opposite the Spar Centre in Stilbaai West (sign at intersection). Die Palinggat is a small, natural pond next to the bureau that is home to Stilbaai’s famous freshwater eels. The eels are fed daily, mostly at 11h00. Eel feedings are a unique experience as the shy eels are lured from under the rocks and hand-fed by the caretakers. A small entrance fee is payable to watch the feeding but it is definitely worth it. Kids and adults alike will enjoy watching the eels being fed and hearing the astounding story of the life cycle of an eel as well as how the Stilbaai eels end up in Mozambique! Phone ahead (028 754 2602) to confirm feeding times.
Take the kids on an interesting educational trip to the visvywers. Built by the Khoi people the visvywers (tidal fish traps) were basic structures built by hand with stones on the beach. Fish were trapped in the half-moon shaped structures as the tide resided. The site was declared a national heritage site and today the ancient fish traps are maintained by a group of locals. The amazing structures are clearly visible from the land and the fish traps still do their job the same as it did hundreds of years ago.
The turn-off to the visvywers are on the way to the harbour in Main Road. Just before the Visvywers Holiday Flats turn right into Wege Street (If you are pass the Visvywers Flats you have driven too far down Main Road and need to turn around). Drive straight ahead and the road (which becomes a dirt road) will lead you to the visvywers.
The harbour and Skulpiesbaai
Visit the harbour (R5 entrance fee on a weekday) and watch fishermen boats leaving the harbour or returning and unloading their catch of the day. There is bound to be some sort of activity at the harbour that you and the kids will find interesting to watch. From June until November keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins. Let the children help you pick out fresh fish or seafood for dinner at the fish shop.
Skulpiesbaai (no entrance fee) is just opposite the harbour. Turn right just before the harbour entrance. Plenty of public braai spots along the rocks make Skulpiesbaai ideal for a barbecue brunch or lunch. The main attraction for children is the rock pools. Buy a fishing net at the grocer and go play catch and release in the pools! A cheap activity that will keep kids busy for hours…
The Olive Farm and other child-friendly eats
The Press Room Café on the Olyven Houdt Olive Farm offers one of the best breakfasts in Stilbaai. There is a small play area for children albeit not quite visible from the seating area. Other child-friendly amenities include high hairs and a kiddies menu. Mom is sure to be delighted by the range of olive products at the shop on the Olive Farm.
Matchbox Gift and Decor Shop in town is also child-friendly with trampolines, lawns and jungle gyms but the eating area is quite a distance from the play area if you have toddlers that need assistance when playing. Cupz at the Spar Centre in Stilbaai-West offers great value for money, delicious food and will take care of your children with high chairs and colour-in books.
About 12 kms on the main road (you can hike along the coast as well – a great activity for a family with older children) will take you to the small village of Jongensfontein where you will find the best draairoomyse (aka soft serve ice cream) at the café on the main beach. The main beach at Jongensfontein has a great tidal pool for toddlers to waddle in when the water’s low and a jungle gym located on the beach front.
This article is part of our “What to with kids in…”-series.