Take the road that hugs the West coastline from Cape Town, and 1,5 hours later you’ll find yourself in The West Coast National Park. Here, the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon, along with alabaster dunes, wetlands and fynbos will greet you.
Tucked away along the shore of the lagoon is Churchhaven, a quaint and unspoiled fishing village that dates back to the 1800s. The white-washed, Cape Vernacular architecture of the fishermen cottages reflects the simple ethos and lifestyle that visitors to the village enjoy. There are no restaurants or shops in town, which means no hustle and bustle – simply the sound of the sea, which lies just over the dunes.
Populated with a mere handful of houses, Churchhaven is an exclusive and intensely private retreat. No motorized boats are permitted which means there’s no noise pollution. There’s no light pollution either, which means visitors are treated to endless starry skies at night. With only limited cellphone accessibility, it makes for an uninterrupted, mindful getaway.
Debbie and her family recently stayed in Churchhaven and consider it to be one of South Africa’s best kept secrets. A hidden gem of solitude and tranquility, it is an ideal destination for families, as the lagoon is shallow, which makes it perfect for children and water-based activities.
Stand-up paddle boards and canoes are a fun way to explore the lagoon and watch the birdlife that resides in and around her waters. Of South Africa’s 900 bird species, a quarter of them can be found in and around Langebaan Lagoon. Curious seals have been known to investigate visitors as they swim and play in the lagoon. Unlike the icy ocean that lies just beyond the dunes, the lagoon is warm and inviting.
Visit during the months of August and September and you’ll be treated to the world-renown phenomenon of the West Coast’s wildflower bloom. As you traverse trails and paths, bright yellow, orange, white and purple wildflowers will surround you, draping the landscape in colour as far as the eye can see.
If you like to bike, the reserve has a number of cycling routes, as well as two mountain-biking trails.
Debbie and her family stayed at Church Cottage, a beautiful house that honors the style and history of the village. Raw wood set against white walls create a warm, welcoming ambience. By combining beach-cottage and classic-country elements, the owners have achieved an elegant but homely space that has all the amenities you might need for a tranquil break. Churchhaven is off-the-grid, but properties have solar power.
Photo Credit: The Room Key
What’s around the corner?
If your stay is longer than a weekend and you can tear yourself away from the solitude, a number of breakaway experiences are on your doorstep. Geelbeck Restaurant and Die Strandloper offer local, hearty cuisine and must-taste seafood. The Post Berg Flower Reserve is only open for two months of the year and is known for its exceptional floral bloom. Langebaan is 40 minutes away and offers excellent windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Churchhaven lives up to its namesake of being a true haven and is heaven for children. The water is shallow and calm and there’s nowhere for the family to be, other than together. Whether you’re building sand castles, searching for crabs, or sighting resident Eland, mongoose, buck and field mouse, Churchhaven is a return to nature, simplicity and connectedness.