A Coastal Getaway at the Foot of Africa
Arniston is a small seaside town in the Overberg region on the Cape South coast, close to Cape Agulhas – the southernmost tip of Africa. The fishing village of Arniston, with its many restored cottages, has retained its romantic character and atmosphere of the 19th century.
This once forgotten fishing village has since become a tranquil getaway and popular holiday destination. Arniston is a leisurely two-hour drive from Cape Town and is characterised by its lime-washed and thatched houses, remains unspoiled and has been declared a national monument in its entirety. This historical fishing hamlet is actually known as Arniston / Waenhuiskrans and is the only town in South Africa with two official names. It was originally known only as Waenhuiskrans, an Afrikaans name meaning literally "Wagon house cliff", after a local sea cave large enough to accommodate a wagon and a span of oxen. It was later to be named Arniston, after the ship tragically sailed onto the rocks at Waenhuiskrans, leaving only six survivors of the 378 souls on board.
The Waenhuiskrans Cave is one of the towns’ most popular attractions along with its beautiful beaches and surrounding beauty. Arniston is flanked by two nature reserves, De Hoop and De Mond Nature Reserves, making this little south coast spot a delight for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and holiday makers looking for peace and tranquillity!
Holiday makers will be able to visit a few charming nearby cafés and mingle among the locals to bargain for freshly caught fish at the harbour which has kept this old town’s heart beating. Arniston offers accommodation at seaside, self-catering cottages or at the renovated Arniston Hotel.
Arniston receives approximately 310 mm of rain annually with the majority of its’ rainfall occurring during the mid-summer months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 25˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 6˚C and 18˚C.
The history of Arniston can be traced back to almost 2000 years ago thanks to the stone implements and bones of fish, seals and various mammals left behind by the nomadic hunter-gatherers that passed through the region. Sheep bones found from a later period suggests that longer periods would be spent in the area until the seasons changed, and greener pastures had to be found.
Mixed artefacts found, would indicate that there was contact between the Khoisan nomads that stayed here and the survivors of the various shipwrecks from the 16th century onwards. The 17th century also saw the exploration of the Overberg by European settlers trying to find that perfect spot to establish farms and start breeding with their cattle.
In 1815, this peaceful village saw the tragic event that would live in infamy, the shipwreck of the HMS Arniston. A few farms still existed in the area at this time and it must have been fortune smiling upon the 6 survivors after their terrible ordeal to be found by a farm boy, Jan Swart, now forever remembered as the boy who found the Arniston survivors. A monument was erected in 1817 in honour of the lives lost in the tragedy by Mrs&nsp;Giels and is a must-see when visiting Arniston.
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