The opening of a number of new businesses on Mossel Bay’s harbour wall has helped to make the area the town’s newest tourism hub. IMAGE: The Mossel Bay Oyster Bar (author: Fred Orban)
The opening of a number of new attractions – and the continuing success of existing businesses that have occupied the area for some time – have helped to turn Mossel Bay’s harbour wall into the town’s newest tourism hub.
“The area has become a busy and bustling destination packed with activities and restaurants,” said Mossel Bay Tourism board member, Fred Orban.
He said that growth has been organic – which has resulted in an authentic feel that captures the spirit of harbours and small ports around the world. “This gives it an authenticity that’s now attracting visitors in growing numbers.”
The harbour wall – officially Quay 4 of the National Port Authority’s Port of Mossel Bay – is situated outside the port’s security area, and stretches from the Mossel Bay Yacht & Boat Club at Munroe’s Bay to the Church Street (North-West) entrance to the harbour.
Facilities on the harbour wall include restaurants (The Sea Gypsy Café, Kaai 4 Braai Restaurant, and The London Bus Fish & Chips Company); the Mossel Bay Oyster Bar; Electrodive Scuba; and departure points for Mossel Bay Deep Sea Fishing Adventures, Seven Seas Pleasure Cruises’ catamaran cruises and high speed rubber duck excursions, White Shark Africa’s cage diving boat, and the yacht Romonza – which holds the permit for boat-based whale watching in Mossel Bay.
Many of the businesses in the area are members of the Mossel Bay Linefish Association – a not-for-profit company that sees to the interest of commercial and social fishers, and related businesses that use the harbour wall and its facilities.
The Yacht Club – which is renowned for its hospitality – offers social facilities for members and visiting yachtsmen (braais, a lapa, The Café on the Bay Restaurant); a slipway for yachts and fishing boats; and various sections that cater for sailors, fishermen, kayakers, and scuba divers. According the Club’s web site, Mossel Bay has “Some of the best sailing conditions found in South Africa – many local and national championships are held here,” while the diving section has access to five local reefs including an outstanding shore-entry reef that’s situated only 30 meters from the clubhouse.
The Club also runs a development sailing school, “Which caters for the upliftment of the town’s youth who would like to take part in this sport.”
Charmaine Klapwijk, who runs Romonza Boat Trips – which was established in 1979 – said that she moved her business to its present position on the harbour wall in 2009. (The yacht Romonza is one of Mossel Bay’s iconic attractions – besides its whale watching trips, it offers trips to Seal Island, eco-marine safaris to discover the marine environment, and educational tours for between ten thousand and twelve thousand school children every year.)
“The newcomers have definitely had a positive effect on our visitor numbers,” she said. “It makes a huge difference having all the attractions in one place because it brings more people.”
Albert Wiffin said that his established businesses – The Sea Gypsy Café and Kaai 4 Restaurant – have benefitted enormously from the rapid growth of the area, with “an increase of up to 25% in turnover over last year.” (Mr. Wiffin also owns the newly-opened The London Bus and the Mossel Bay Oyster Bar.)
Mr. Orban said that the activities on the harbour wall fulfill an important need in Mossel Bay since they provide all-year round entertainment for locals and visitors alike.
“It’s vital for a seaside town like ours to be able to offer its visitors this kind of harbour-side experience; it’s exciting to see how our visitors have embraced the area – and it bodes well for the future that Mossel Bay now has a second tourism hub that both rivals and compliments The Point area at the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse,” he said.