Onrus and Sandbaai, just before one enters Hermanus, were always regarded as Hermanus’ poor cousins. Onrus was an alternative sort of place which attracted writers and artists. Gregoire Boonzaier, Marjorie Wallace, Jan Rabie and many others lived there. Sandbaai was newer and, apart from the beach, didn’t offer much in the way of attractions. Today, they are both more authentic and have lots to offer!
It’s all changed. The R43/R320 intersection which leads to Sandbaai is one of the area’s most dynamic spots — because of Hemel-en-Aarde village on the corner. It boasts a great little Saturday morning market which is well worth a visit. It’s anchor tenant is Wine Village – Paul & Cathy du Toit’s treasure trove of fabulous wines, great service and expert advice.
They are surrounded by decor shops, outstanding restaurants, ceramic crafters, wineries (including a garagiste and the must-visit Hermanuspietersfontein Winery — great wines with the most wonderful sense of whimsy. Baa Baa Black Sheep will never be the same again… did you click that link? Their Saturday morning market makes that the day to include this on your itinerary.)
Taking a drive up the R320 you’re in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley — which means heaven and earth. The Babylonstoren (Babylon’s Tower) peak is higher than Table Mountain and the wine estates are among the best you’ll find anywhere. This is the Hermanus Wine Route, one of the most popular destinations in the Overberg. And it’s a foodies’ delight!
We stayed at Mountain View Manor Guesthouse in Sandbaai and, WOW, did it exceed all expectations! The building’s facebrick exterior might not be the most enticing (for a Capetonian who lives and breathes vernacular architecture) — but it was Geoff’s interactions with me when he added the establishment to CapeInfo that attracted me to find out more.
Geoff, with a long track record in tourism, and his partner Charlise, a chef, are true stars. Expect to be surprised at breakfast and the other thoughtful touches. You’ll also get good advice on where to go and what to see.
And that’s how we got to explore Sandbaai beach and the short coastal path to Onrus.
Sandbaai beach is unpretentious, pet-friendly and a great place for kids with its rock pools. The winding cemented walk to Onrus beach is short and very pleasant. Onrus beach, and the village itself, is a delight. The Beach Bistro, recommended by Geoff & Charlise, proved to be a facility that most beaches lack. Great ambiance, great food, in a wonderful setting. And… right ON the beach!
And it was in Onrus River that Beezus took the plunge and went for his first voluntary swim!
Most photos: Tania Thompson Poole