Whale Coast delivers on lifestyle and value

The Cape coastline from Gordon’s Bay towards the southern Cape is renowned as one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world, with some of the best whale-watching opportunities - particularly at this time of year, as the Southern Right whales come into the coastal waters to thrill spectators with their breaching displays.  But the area has more to offer than ocean vistas and giant marine mammals, says Pam Golding Properties’ MD for the Boland and Overberg regions, Annien Borg.  

“The Whale Coast, spanning the towns from Pringle Bay in the west to Gansbaai in the east, offers a wide range of property options, and prices that are the envy of many city dwellers,” she says. “In times of global economic turmoil, property remains a sound long-term investment, and buyers would do well to consider the Whale Coast for its excellent value for money, ease of access from Cape Town, and wonderful lifestyle opportunities.”

Borg adds that there is something to suit every need and price range, from vacant land to apartments, compact holiday homes and luxury seaside mansions.  “The individual towns vary in size, amenities and property offering, but what they all have in common is a magnificent seaside setting and a slower pace of life, ideal for holidaymakers, retirees or those who simply want to opt out of the hustle and bustle of big city living,” she says.

Kogelberg Biosphere

The first section of the Whale Coast, from the outskirts of Gordon’s Bay to the Bot River lagoon just past Kleinmond, lies within the Kogelberg Biosphere.  This area is South Africa’s first Biosphere Reserve, declared in 1998 by UNESCO.  The status means that it is managed according to international principles that aim to combine conservation, sustainable use of natural resources, and wise development.  PGP’s area manager Mike Bisset says the result is an unspoiled natural beauty with abundant flora and fauna, and strict regulations to curtail overdevelopment.

Towns lying within this area include Rooi Els, Pringle Bay and Betty’s Bay, all of which offer a charming small town atmosphere and their own village centres with local amenities such as restaurants, cafes, post offices and delis.  Pringle Bay has its own nursery- and junior schools, and is therefore particularly sought-after by families wishing to live on the Whale Coast full time.  Betty’s Bay is renowned for its magnificent botanical gardens and extensive network of beaches, as well as its inland waterways, offering the additional feature of lakeside homes.  Prices in these towns are extremely accessible - one can obtain a vacant 600sqm plot in Pringle Bay for under R400 000, a small holiday cottage for under R850 000, and a larger family home for between R985 000 and R1.4 million.  In Betty’s Bay, modern family homes with four bedrooms or more located slightly back from the seafront are available for between R950 000 and R1.8 million.  Prices increase with proximity to the sea, and on the coastline itself there are a number of modern luxury homes, selling for anything between R3.2 million and R7.5 million.

Kleinmond is the largest town in the area, offering more extensive amenities including two primary schools, four shopping complexes, gyms, doctors and pharmacies.  The town enjoys a spectacular setting between the Bot River lagoon, whose marsh area is home to abundant birdlife and the famous wild horses, and the Palmiet River, which offers many opportunities for watersports enthusiasts.  

There are also numerous hiking trails in the area, while the main beach has the acclaimed international Blue Flag status. The town is home to its own magnificent nine-hole golf course as well as having access to the nearby 18-hole Arabella Golf Course, often rated the best in the Western Cape. Kleinmond also has an excellent retirement village with frail care facilities, making it a sought-after location for retirees.  Prices start from as little as R250 000 for a 600sqm plot and R550 000 for a two-bedroomed apartment.  Smaller homes can be obtained from around R890 000 to R1.2 million, while larger family homes are priced anywhere from R1.4 million to R6.5 million.
Kleinmond’s waterfront area is currently undergoing a major facelift, courtesy of the new Harbour Road development, which has both residential and commercial components. Although construction is still underway, some shops including an art gallery and several restaurants are already open for business.  Phase One of the residential component is currently selling, with two- and three-bedroomed apartments overlooking the Harbour Square.  Prices range from R2.8 million to R3 million.

Walker Bay

Moving out of the Kogelberg Biosphere towards Hermanus, one approaches another conservation area, the Walker Bay Nature Reserve.  This is prime whale territory, with the bustling town of Hermanus at its heart.  PGP’s area manager Adrian Kuiper says there is currently a wide variety of stock on offer in the area, with particular value to be found in older properties.  There is also a marked dominance in the market of buyers seeking properties priced between R1 million and R2.5 million.

The satellite towns of Onrus and Vermont lie just outside the reserve itself, but offer a relaxed lifestyle with access to superb beaches.  These towns have seen enormous growth over the past decade, to the point where they have virtually converged, but still have few amenities of their own, relying instead on the Hermanus town centre just a few kilometres away.  The result is that they offer quiet streets with no commercial activity, and minimal noise and traffic.  Vacant land can still be obtained here for under R500 000 for a 400sqm plot, or up to R4 million for a larger sea-front erf.  
Apartments in secure complexes are priced from around R600 000 for two bedrooms, while an older holiday house in need of renovation can be bought for around R800 000.  Larger family homes in the newer suburbs are priced from R1.1 million to R1.6 million, going up to R4 million for those situated close to the sea or the mountains.  Modern seafront homes are priced between R4 million and R10 million.

Hermanus itself has grown beyond all recognition in the past 20 years, and is now a thriving, bustling town with excellent beaches, superb sailing on its lagoon, and a wide array of other outdoor activities to enjoy, not least of them the world’s best land-based whale-watching from the famous Cliff Path.  Although the area may often be considered a seasonal destination, it now has a large permanent population, with the result that the major retailers are all represented and there are many excellent restaurants, as well as private and government medical facilities and well-managed schools.

Kuiper says well-priced homes are still selling fast in the Hermanus market, with the sought-after suburb of Voëlklip proving enduringly popular.  PGP has sold 12 properties totalling over R40 million in this area in the past five months (April to August 2011).  “We have also sold some beautiful newly-built homes on the Hermanus Golf Estate,” he adds.  “This exceptional 27-hole Golf Course is currently rated as the fourth most popular in the country, and is part of the reason why Fernkloof Estate will become an increasingly desirable place to reside.”  

There has also been movement at the top end of the market, with some seafront homes achieving prices in the range of R17 000/sqm, largely due to their scarcity value.  Notable sales this year (2011) have included two seafront properties, both on over 1700sqm, sold by PGP for R16.9 million and R24 million.

Vacant land in Hermanus can be obtained from around R1 million, while a bachelor apartment can be found for R450 000.  Larger apartments with multiple bedrooms are priced from around R800 000, while the entry level for homes is around R1.5 million. Larger family homes located closer to the beach in prime suburbs can fetch anything from R6 million to R10 million.

At the far eastern end of Walker Bay, half an hour’s drive from Hermanus, the town of Gansbaai and its satellite villages such as De Kelders, Franskraal and Kleinbaai are world-renowned as white shark cage-diving territory.  The growth in this niche tourism market has led to the area’s expansion in recent years, and it now offers a number of new developments where one can obtain land from as little as R400 000 for 600sqm.  A starter home on a sizeable plot can be obtained for under R800 000, while larger three-or four-bedroomed houses are priced around the R1 million mark. The front row has its share of luxury beach houses, priced from R7 million to over R10 million.

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