Just a few minutes drive from my home on the south coast of Africa is a rare and curious geological feature called “The Island”. I went to explore it again recently as it’s one of my favorite spots in the area. It’s not really an island although you could call it one. It’s a rare anomaly actually the likes of which I have only ever seen in Thailand once in one particular place.
The geological feature consists of a long peninsula protruding out to sea like a finger, called Robberg Peninsula. And just offshore of the peninsula on one side is a little island of sorts, joined to the peninsula by a thin slither of white beach sand. The sandbank is the only access to the island itself and acts as a bridge, which is always available despite the tidal fluctuation.
So the island is like an appendage to the peninsula and creates a unique feature which is great for exploring. I presume at really high tides or during storms the sandbank that connects the little island may on rare occasions be covered over by the sea water, but on all occasions that I’ve visited the site, the sand bar has been dry and available to traverse as a bridge to the little island.
Sitting on the sandbar is a rare and curious experience as you have the waves of the ocean washing up onto the beach on both sides of you. It feels great to then walk up onto the island and feel as if you have the place to yourself. I go there to get in touch with nature and bask in the sun and surf spray which is so life-affirming and exhilarating.
From the island I feel like I am a sovereign entity in my own kingdom...of a few feet in diameter, surrounded by the ocean except for the drawbridge effect created by the sandbar which breaks up the mote that surrounds my fortress island. I guess this is how I fantasize as I wonder about alone on these vast open expanses of shoreline available to me on the south coast of Africa.
It’s actually a tourist hotspot and groups of international travelers can be seen occasionally hiking around the peninsula itself. There is a car parking lot and an entrance gate at the beginning of the Robberg Peninsula, where one pays a fee to enter what is actually a park and marine reserve site. The name “Robberg” means place of seals, since this is a massive seal breeding colony. Sometimes you see them swimming about in the ocean offshore. Add to this the prolific bird life including the endangered Oystercatcher, and you have a fine eco-tourist site that is actually very attractive. As a local I don’t bother to pay at the main gate and simply walk up onto the peninsula freely from the beach, since I know the paths well.
Dolphins are also permanent residents and can be seen sometimes in long lines as the school (or is it a pod) passes by, some leaping into the air above the waves. Naturally there are also sharks around although you seldom see them, and in season you will see whales which is a really majestic site to behold.
Every year around this time now – mid winter in the south – whales come to this bay to make it their home for a few months while they give birth to their young. The marine nature reserve is one of the few in the world and I feel blessed to live on its shores and get the chance to see the beautiful whales that frequent the region. If you’re lucky you may see some acrobatics as the whales breach and jump up out of the water only to crash back down onto it, making a massive splash in true playful manner.
Although I like the island for its uniqueness as a geological feature, the entire coastline here in what is called The Garden Route, on the south coast of Africa, about 550 km east of The Cape of Good Hope, is a real paradise for nature lovers and outdoor sports fanatics. Anything from surfing to mountain biking to zipline or bungi jumping is all available here.
Then of course there’s the wildlife watching, including birds, sea life and even elephants not far from this area. I have the true African experience in my back yard as a playground all year long. Tourism is obviously greatly reduced this year due to travel limitations globally but the animals continue their travels and their beautiful natural existence, so I have the chance to admire them whenever I wish.
These are some of the perks of living in such a remote place like the southernmost coastline of the African continent. I’m surrounded by the vast natural playground of the wild and free with some of the best climate on the planet all year long. If we ever go back to the old norm then make an effort to come and visit this region as you will find it truly inspiring and uplifting. Look me up and I will show you around my personal paradise on earth.
(photos my own)