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Knysna is as special as always

Knysna isn’t the sleepy hollow I knew long, long ago, but it’s grown up and grown in the nicest possible way.  In this respect, it’s a bit like Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, where environment and quality are key issues.  But Knysna still has its cobwebs, in the figurative sense.  This was just a fleeting visit.

Apart from getting one of the warmest welcomes anywhere — at Knysna Wayside Inn — Beezus loved it too.  His spirits rose tangibly and he walked around the town with a swagger, just as he does in Stellenbosch.  Maybe he sensed that it is far more pet-friendly than Mossel Bay.

Knysna: it's Beezus' kind of town

It’s Beezus’ kind of town. 

I’m always intrigued by how some towns grow well and others either just fail completely or are so mediocre that it counts as a fail.  Invariably, I think, it comes down to someone really competent in charge of the town’s planning department — by getting developers to raise the bar higher than is their norm — and the existence of very vocal and informed citizens.  Knysna has very few really bad buildings, as far as I could see.  Locals may disagree, and I’d love to hear your views.

The Knysna Waterfront has become a regular stop when passing through Knysna and it’s always a source of delight.

Knysna Waterfront

Knysna Waterfront – great ambience, and pet-friendly.

The big surprise on this trip was the newer Thesen Islands.  It is a huge architectural and urban design achievement.

Thesens Island architectural detail

Thesen Islands — What first caught my eye was the quality of architectural detailing.

Thesen Island

Thesen Islands must surely be one of the most significant waterfront developments in SA.


Thesen Islands

View over the swimming pool at the Turbine Boutique Hotel of one of the waterways.

Will it be an enduring success?  Well that’s another matter.  The retail mix on the main street into the development just doesn’t work.  There was no buzz or excitement.  Does it have the resident population — even holidaymakers — to sustain it?  I don’t think so.  It’s going to need some serious marketing.

2 thoughts on “Knysna is as special as always”

  1. Mostly agree with you, Carl: But as a local: the Knysna Mall. Tsk, tsk. It was a terribly bad idea to let all those small, quirky shops and workshops disappear in favour of the kind of indoor, sanitised, marginalising, globalised monster they’ve built there. It’s pretty much killed the Main Street, far as I can see. If the city fathers (why are they ALWAYS fathers?) had put their foot down, we could have had a pedestrian-friendly development. I mean, they even allowed the developers to build right up to the boundary on three sides of the monstrosity, so the streets to the sides (but ok, not Main Street) appear to have got narrower. And that bleak, endless, high facade at the back has really ruined those smaller thoroughfares. It is a typical example of what happens when town planning decisions are made only on the basis of the rates and taxes, with not even a dip of the hat to the humanity of it all.

    But it’s still a lekker town. See here: – you can even do a spot of birding from the comfort of your car!

    And it’s Beezus-friendly, too. ¡Muy importante!

  2. Hope Loyalty and Invention- being the end product of necessity, will save this absolute gem of a waterway town. Long may she live. Bravo Knysna !

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