Mossel Bay is a cute town with lots to do on the coastline of the Garden Route in South Africa. Read on to find out more.
Mossel Bay is about 4.5 hours drive and 400 km east of Cape Town, almost entirely along Highway 2. It’s in the middle of the Garden Route and there are lots of other places to see nearby, and on the way from Cape Town. If you need a good road map for this trip, see our recommendations.
Mossel Bay Map
Things to do in Mossel Bay
Things to do in Mossel Bay focus on the coast and ocean. There’s a particular abundance of sea life nearby since the bay is warm and sheltered. There are seals living on an island in the middle of the bay (take a boat ride), many Great White Sharks (go Cage Diving with them) and loads of dolphins and whales – see them when walking along the hiking trail along the cliffs.
Best things to do in Mossel Bay:
- Walk the St Blaize Hiking Trail
- Visit the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex
- Go on a Boat Trip
- Explore the Cape St Blaize Lighthouse Complex
- Relax on Santos Beach
- Swim in the paddling pool
- Check out the rock pools
- Zipline across the ocean
- Go Shark Cage Diving
- Learn about Sharks at The Shark Lab
- Discover the Point of Human Origins
- Go Wine Tasting Nearby
1. Walk the St Blaize Hiking Trail
The St Blaize Hiking Trail (Tripadvisor Reviews*) heads 14 km from Mossel Bay to Dana Point, west along the coastline. There’s beautiful coastal scenery on the way, and you might see dolphins and whales if you’re lucky. If you want to walk a shorter part of the trail in a circular loop, check out our St Blaize Hiking Trail Loop article.
2. Visit the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex
The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a worthwhile museum with lots of interesting exhibits. There are a series of historic buildings on some nice grounds, with views down to the ocean and Santos Beach. Bartolomeu Dias visited South Africa in 1488, and he came ashore somewhere around Mossel Bay. That’s how the museum gets its name. The exhibits include a replica of an old caravel sailing ship and a small aquarium. There are also fossils here, and a ‘post office tree’, where sailors left messages. These messages were then picked up by ships going in the opposite direction so they reached their destination fairly quickly.
3. Go on a Boat Trip
In Mossel Bay you can choose from several boat trips (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*). You can visit seal island, go on a sunset boat trip or go whale-watching (July-November). The seal island trip lasts about 1 hour, and on the way you might see dolphins, whales and even sharks. Seal Island Trips cost R250 per adult and trips are on the hour from 10h00-16h00. Be warned, there’s a very bad smell near the island!
4. Cape St Blaize Lighthouse Complex
The Cape St Blaize Lighthouse Complex (Tripadvisor Reviews*), built in 1864, lies above Mossel Bay Point Road and waterfront. There’s a great view of the ocean from here and a fantastic cafe. The lighthouse complex is run by volunteers and only open from 10 am to 3 pm, April to October. It’s R50 for a climb up the lighthouse tower including a drink of your choice.
5. Relax on Santos Beach
Santos Beach (Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a lovely beach covered in sand, with fairly sheltered and warm swimming. There’s parking and restaurants nearby.
6. Swim in the Paddling Pool
Along the waterfront at the eastern edge of town, and by a sandy beach, is a tidal paddling and swimming pool. It’s a very safe place to swim with totally calm water and a wall surrounding the pool. The water is refreshed every high tide so remains clean. There’s a sandy beach next door to dry off on.
7. Explore the rock pools
There are several rock pools around the coastline in Mossel Bay. There are some great pools near the Shark Lab underneath the lighthouse, and others close to the paddling pool.
8. The Shark Lab
The Shark Lab (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a small aquarium and a large tank with two sharks that you can swim with. These sharks are totally harmless. It’s only worth visiting if you really want to swim with the little sharks since there’s not much else to see. It’s open 9am to 4pm every day.
9. Go Shark Cage Diving
If you’re very brave, you can go shark cave diving in Mossel Bay (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*). There are quite a few Great White Sharks in the ocean here. You go cage diving at a spot near the appropriately named Shark Island. Mossel Bay is one of the best places in South Africa to go cage diving with Great White Sharks so cross that off your bucket list here!
10. Zipline over the Ocean
The zipline in Mossel Bay (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is just over 1 km long. You set off from the high cliffs and whizz across the ocean, apparently travelling up to 80 km per hour. Book on-site at the office near the Shark Lab, and bear in mind that it’s weather dependent. Even if you don’t want to take part, it’s quite fun to watch the scared people flying through the air. You can watch from the first part of the St Blaize Hiking Trail.
11. Discover the Point of Human Origins
A tour of the Point of Human Origins (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is a great way to learn more about the history of humankind. The Point of Human Origin is a famous cave on the coastline just below Pinnacle Point, about 15 minutes drive from the centre of Mossel Bay. There have been many archaeological discoveries in the cave about how our ancestors lived in the past, from 160,000 years ago until much more recently.
On the tour, you meet your guide at the entrance to Pinnacle Point Golf Clubhouse. After a brief introduction, you’re taken down the steps to the beach and along the boardwalk up into the cave. In the cave you get to look around and at the archaeological digging works and your tour guide explains everything about its history. This includes evidence that humans lived here over an extended period, and that ‘modern humans’ also lived in this cave.
The tour is a fascinating story and additionally, the coast is very beautiful. There are a few tour options and the most popular is the standard 90-minute Cave Visit. You cannot visit the cave unaccompanied. After the tour, if you’re hungry you can eat at the Pinnacle Point Club House Restaurant.
12. Go Wine Tasting Nearby
There are several vineyards just inland of Mossel Bay. Reed Valley (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is the closest and most popular place. It’s about 15 minutes drive from the centre of town. It’s also one of the oldest vineyards on the Garden Route. There’s a tasting room, two restaurants and areas for children to play. Wine tasting happens from 10am to 4pm every day.
Places to Eat and Drink in Mossel Bay
There are many great places to eat and drink in Mossel Bay. Seafood is naturally served at many restaurants, and it’s normally fresh straight off the boat. Below is a selection of the best restaurants in Mossel Bay.
La Peron Visskerm (Tripadvisor Reviews*) – a great fish restaurant with fresh fish and outdoor seating.
Delfino’s Restaurant (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) – the best thing about this place is its location right by the beach. There’s an outside deck with great views and a wide variety of food options. The food isn’t amazing but the location makes up for it.
Cafe Gannet (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) – A wonderful seafood restaurant with a large selection of South African wines. The Inverroche Gin School is based here, where you can learn to make your own gin.
Mossel Bay Accommodation
Mossel Bay Camping
The Point Caravan Resort
The Point Caravan Resort (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) has a great location in town, right by the beach. There are also tidal pools nearby and many restaurants. There are clean ablutions. At busy times of year there is a minimum stay required.
De Bakke Santos Resort
Mossel Bay Hotels
There are many accommodation options in Mossel Bay and only some of the most interesting and best places to stay are mentioned here.
Vue Port* – A lovely place to stay in town with good views over the ocean and super friendly hosts. Good internet and cooking facilities.
Point Village Hotel* – Located right by the beach with great views, though some rooms need maintenance and it can be slightly noisy at nighttime.
Aqua Marina Guest House* – A great guesthouse with a delicious breakfast included and nice views of the ocean.
Protea Hotel by Marriott* – A large hotel in a historic building with nice clean and modern rooms.
Betty’s Boutique Hotel* – A fun hotel with a garden and uniquely styled interiors up on the hill.
Santos Express* – Stay on a train by the beach!
Guidebooks to explore more of South Africa
I hope you enjoyed our guide to Mossel Bay. There are several other great places to explore not so far away along the Garden Route, such as Ebb & Flow Rest Camp in Wilderness, Diepwalle Forest, or de Hoop Nature Reserve. For more hikes and activities, check out our Guide to South Africa.