Arniston (Waenhuiskrans) – Coastal town, Western Cape, South Africa
We have recently visited Arniston, also known as Waenhuiskrans, translated as ‘Wagon house cliff’ from Afrikaans. It is a beautiful little town with NO street lights! You find peace and rest here. Arniston is very close to Cape Agulhas, which is the Southern most point of Africa. Definitely a must visit.
We arrived in the middle of the night and I was surprised by the darkness, because of no streetlights. This is not something you find often. Regardless of all the silly stories out there about South Africa, we do have street lights… I loved it, it is so dark that the stars seem extra bright, illuminated in the pitch black sky. The town has narrow streets with lots of white houses built right up onto the sidewalk, it is basic and beautiful and peaceful. You can sit and stare at the stars while listening to the ocean waves in the distance.
When we went to Arniston I could not figure out whether Arniston and Waenhuiskrans are two different towns or not, it seemed to be the same place, but not, confusing. Anyway, I read up on it and it actually is the exact same town. The town was known as Waenhuiskrans, but in 1815 a ship wrecked named the Arniston. Only 6 of the 378 people on board survived. The town was referred to as Arniston since then and today it is known as both Waenhuiskrans and Arniston.
The town has a fishing community living in white lime-washed and thatch-roof houses. It has been declared a national monument and is beautiful. The rest of the town is a bit more modern with mostly holiday homes, but thankfully most kept to the character of the town with the architecture of the houses. The beach is a nice sandy beach between the dunes forming a bay. If the tide is low enough you can walk to a massive cave where quite a few people can stand in – worth the view! We did not visit the cave this time as it was extremely windy and we had a wedding, so our timing with the tide was all wrong.
The one thing about Western Cape, South Africa, is that it is very windy from August until December. December attracts most tourists, who probably gets extremely irritated by the wind, hopefully they don’t decide to not come back because of it. Usually there are lots of nice wind still days in-between, but it is not the norm. The perfect time is from middle January to end of March – it gets very warm yes, but you have no wind, so much more options to do things in the outdoor – perfect for the Western Cape.
Back to Arniston, it is a very small town and there are no shops. In fact there is one tuck shop, but it is minute small and feels like a little garage shop. There is the rather large Arniston hotel, nice to go for cocktails and have a view over the green lawn and the ocean. At the hotel you will also find some relics from ship wrecks out of the ocean and interesting information on the ships of that time. It is worth a visit.
The town closest to Arniston is Bredasdorp which is about 24km away, inland. Arniston is surrounded by our country’s natural vegetation and feels a bit raw and still untouched. If you visit South Africa do try to make a stop at this town, or stay a day or two. Visit Cape Agulhas the Southern most point of Africa, take a picture next to the pillar. Walk up the light house and see a breathtaking view.
Loved our stay in beautiful Arniston!