The Gansbaai coast is known as the "Coast of Contrasts" and the town of Gansbaai as "Big 2 Town" as you can see both the Southern Right Whale AND the Great White Shark here.
In 1881 Johannes Cornelis walked across the dunes to Gansgat from Stanford. Fisherman called it Gansgat because of a colony of Egyptian Geese (Kolganse) who nested in the rushes surrounding a fresh water fountain in a cove on the bay. Mr Cornelis found the fishing to be so good that he settled there and was soon followed by other families.
Some of the Afrikaans-speaking locals with English surnames are accounted for by the settlement in the area of the survivors of the British troopship, the Birkenhead, which was wrecked at nearby Danger Point in 1852. Danger Point juts out 8 km into the sea. It has a lighthouse at its tip.
Dangerpoint Lighthouse © Dangerpoint-Gansbaai Tourism
The Byeneskrans Hiking Trail gives beautiful views of the sea and the landscape and leads hikers through fynbos, milkwoods and Khoisan caves.
Stanford's Bay, used by Sir Robert Stanford for shipping his farm produce to Cape Town, is an inlet between De Kelders and Gansbaai. It is a tranquil holiday resort with a small beach and a freshwater fountain, Flentergat, lined with fig trees that are thought to be over 150 years old.
Life in Gansbaai is still intrinsic to the ocean. The cove that provided a safe landing spot for the fishing boats of yesteryear has been developed into a modern harbour where fishing trawlers come and go. Gansbaai in fact boasts two harbours. In 1990 South Africa was the first country in the world to protect the Great White Shark and Gansbaai has become renowned as the Great White Shark capital of the world.
Pic courtesy of White Shark Projects
Four nautical miles from the Kleinbaai harbour lie Dyer Island and Geyser Island. Geyser Island is home to a colony of Cape Fur Seals and Dyer Island a bird sanctuary - to penguins in the main. The channel separating the two islands is a popular feeding area for the Great White Shark and is know as ‘shark alley'. Cage diving and surface viewing of these magnificent beasts is possible through one of several operators.Four nautical miles from the Kleinbaai harbour lie . Geyser Island is home to a colony of Cape Fur Seals and Dyer Island a bird sanctuary - to penguins in the main. The channel separating the two islands is a popular feeding area for the Great White Shark and is know as ‘shark alley'. Cage diving and surface viewing of these magnificent beasts is possible through one of several operators.
Kleinbaai, 4 km from Gansbaai, is filled with milkwood trees found only along the southern African coast. It has a tidal pool and a sea-view golf course and is the site of Gansbaai's second harbour. Kleinbaai is also the meeting point for those wanting to go Great White Shark diving or boat based whale watching.
Picture courtesy of Dyer Island Cruises
Franskraal, 7 km from Gansbaai, is one of the last ancient milkwood forests left in the world. It is popular for its shore angling and is a botanist's dream. An absolute must for story-lovers and historians is a visit to the Franskraal Museum. Uilenskraalsmond is situated at the mouth of the Uilenskraal River and its caravan park and lagoon have made it a popular holiday spot.
Pearly Beach, 21 km from Gansbaai, is famous for its pristine, brilliant white beach.
To the East of Gansbaai lies the tiny village of Baardskeerdersbos, allegedly named after a formidable spider with fear-some looking mandibles. It is in fact harmless. There is another legend abou the origins of it's name, dating back to the 1730s which describes how a farmer in desparate need of a shave, bequeathed his farm to a travelling barber in exchange for a neat short back and sides!
Baardskeerdersbos offers very little civilisation except for a small store selling chips, coffee and such-like, an old double-storey bus used as a holiday home an a couple of cottages. Despite being a hamlet boasting an historic church, it is also home to the famous Baardskeerdersbos Orkes, widely known for its nostalgic songs, played on instruments such as the banjo, concertina and accordian. the Baardskeerdersbos Band plays regularly at local weddings, dances and festivals.