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Mossel Bay,

Mossel Bay's main attractions are an excellent museum complex; several beautiful historic stone buildings, some of which date back hundreds of years (the central part of Mossel Bay is exceptionally well preserved); some of the best oysters along the coast; golf; and good beaches with safe, secluded bathing. The area has most of the very few north-facing (read: sunniest) beaches in South Africa, but be warned: as it's very popular with local families, it is a writhing, seething mass of juvenile humanity every December. Dolphins—sometimes hundreds at a time—frequently move through the bay in search of food, and whales swim past during their annual migration (July–October). You could take a cruise out to Seal Island, home to a breeding colony of more than 2,000 Cape fur seals or, if you're feeling brave, a cage dive to view the numerous white sharks (blue pointers) that hang around the seal colony.

Dining

Café Gannet

Tour-bus crowds occasionally descend on this popular spot, located right next to the Dias Museum and Old Post Office Tree, but don't let that put you off. Justly renowned for its seafood—the oysters are extremely fresh and totally wild, not cultivated—it also has good general and vegetarian menus. Try a pizza, or something a bit more exotic, such as deep-fried Camembert coated in cashew nuts served with figs and drizzled with wild-forest-berry coulis, followed by skewered tuna cubes in a curry-infused arugula-and-mango yogurt sauce. The inevitable ostrich is here, served up skewered with port-soaked, sun-dried apricots, caramelized onion jus, and savory rice. In summer sit outside on the shaded terrace or in the refurbished and stylish interior.

Delfino's Espresso Bar and Pizzeria

Good coffee, yummy pizzas and pastas, tables on the lawn right next to the beach, and a fantastic view of the bay and the Cape St. Blaize lighthouse make this a great place to spend a sunny afternoon.

Sights

Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex

Named for the 15th-century Portuguese navigator, the Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex concentrates on the early history of Mossel Bay, when it was a regular stopover for Portuguese mariners en route to India from Europe. Probably the most interesting exhibit is the full-size (340-foot-long) replica of Dias's ship (a caravel), which was sailed to Mossel Bay from Lisbon as part of the quincentenary celebrations in 1988. If you pay the extra fee to board it, you'll find it all pretty authentic, except for the modern galley and heads. Also here is the Post Office Tree. In the 15th century a few sailors decided that the tree—then a lone tree on a deserted beach on an unexplored coast—stood out sufficiently and left some letters here in an old boot, under a stone, in the hope they would be found and delivered. They were. Pop a postcard into the shoe-shape mailbox and see if the service is still as good. Your mail will arrive with a special postmark. This museum is a terminus for the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe train.



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