Sitting lightly in an idyllic spot where Cape Floral Kingdom cascades down to meet the sea, Lekkerwater Beach Lodges is the ultimate South African beach retreat.
The lodge is found in the most exclusive sector of De Hoop Nature Reserve, and there’s six kilometres of private and pristine beach before it. The reserve itself covers a whopping 34,000 hectares and is often referred to as ‘the jewel of the Western Cape’. Roaming the colourful hillsides are species such as bontebok, Cape mountain zebra, eland, baboons and ostrich, and there’s hiking and cycling to be enjoyed out through the picturesque reserve. Keep your eyes on the skies too, because a whopping 260 bird species have been recorded around here!
Lekkerwater herself is positioned where this floral treasure trove meets the sea, and its beachfront position offers some of the planet’s very best land-based whale watching from May until October when Southern Right whales arrive to calve, mate and cavort in the warm ocean. At peak whale season, between August and October, there can be hundreds of whales in front of the lodge at any one time. The whales take centre stage when they sweep through the seas of course, but there are still dolphins, octopus and plenty of other marine species to put on a show through the rest of the year.
Despite the bountiful reserve behind it, Lekkerwater is very much a beach lodge, and is designed around the dramatic seascape before it. Characterful stairs guide guests down, past a chic pool and deck, into the open plan main area. This space is entirely glass on one side, taking full advantage of the glorious coastline outside. A roaring fire crackles alongside a plethora of books on the area, its history and wildlife. Soft furnishings give this area a homely feel, while at the other end of the room is the huge dining table, overlooked by the open kitchen. The wall here is adorned with a painting that depicts the lodge’s timeline. A short distance east of the lodge lies Klipdrift Cave. Renowned for its paleontological significance, the cave shows evidence of human habitation dating back 64 000 years. This predates similar discoveries in Europe and North America by more than 20 000 years. In essence, some of our earliest ancestors walked the shoreline and dunes that surround Lekkerwater. Further evidence shows that the indigenous Khoi Khoi pastoralists lived in these hills long before the first European explorers sailed around the southern tip of Africa to begin centuries of settlement and colonisation.
But we have one Bill Green to thank for the dramatic location of Lekkerwater Beach Lodge. It was Green who built his family’s holiday home on this site in 1939. In later years it was appropriated by the state for a military test range, then later set aside for the modern-day De Hoop Nature Reserve.
More recently, between 1990 and 1994, Lekkerwater became the coastal escape – South Africa’s ‘Camp David’, if you will – for the former South African President, FW de Klerk. It was here that he contemplated how to move South Africa from apartheid to democracy, no doubt finding inspiration in the solitude and beauty of this remarkable coastline.
Each of the chalets overlooks the beach and waters beyond, and has its own verandah from which to soak up all the sights and scents of the fynbos and frothing ocean. Inside is a log burner for cooler evenings, and original paintings by Jemima Middleton grace the walls, featuring splishy sploshy interpretations of the local wildlife. Among the chalets is a double storey family room, making this an ideal choice for families travelling together.
If you’ve always wanted a cool, contemporary beach lodge of your own, you’ll find it in Lekkerwater.