Knysna, The Garden Route

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Knysna, The Garden Route

Knysna Heads

The Garden Route in the Western Cape is one of the most popular raod trip routes in South Africa. And for good reason! This coastline is absolutely breathtaking with long sandy beaches, incredible coastal hikes, lush forests, amazing farmer’s markets and characterful towns. Whether you’re stopping at Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay or Nature’s Valley you are bound to have a wonderful time along the Garden Route. Over the Easter weekend my family and I planned a little Garden Route Escape up to Knysna. My aunt and uncle have recently relocated to Knysna and we were so excited to visit them. I have never really spent time in Knysna, only ever driven through it so this was such a treat to properly explore this Garden Route gem!

Where to stay?

We stayed at Footprints of Knysna. It was a lovely little spot that had room options for couples and families. It had a beautiful garden with a pool and our balcony overlooked the Knysna Heads and Lagoon. Our host, Kitty, was incredibly helpful and friendly. The location was absolutely perfect for exploring Knysna.

Footprints of Knysna

Footprints of Knysna Footprints of Knysna

What to do in Knysna?

Knysna has an abundance of amazing things to do with so many opportunities to explore the natural surroundings. Here are some of the best things to do during your stay. While I haven’t down all of these myself (due to limited time), I can recommend all of them wholeheartedly.

Visit the Knysna Heads

Knysna Heads

Knysna Heads

The Knysna Lagoon is Knysna’s crowning glory and the best place to view it is from the top of the Knsyna Heads. The Knsyna Heads are two hills that act as the gate entrance from the ocean to the Knysna Lagoon. The West Head is private property and so pretty much impossible to access (you can however, drive up to Margret’s viewpoint and get a view from the West side of the lagoon). The East Head is where the action is really at. You can type ‘Knysna Heads viewport parking’ or ‘East Head View Point’ into Google maps and it’ll take you to the top of the hill. From the parking you just walk a few metres and you’ll see thee sign indicating the viewing spots. There are about four different viewing points which each give you a different perspective and view over the lagoon, of the West Head and of the Indian Ocean. There is no entrance fee so you can enjoy these spectacular views for free.

Knysna Heads Knysna Heads Knysna Heads Knysna Heads Knysna Heads Knysna Heads

Go snorkeling in the Knysna Lagoon

Once you’ve taken in the beauty of the Lagoon from above it’s time to take a dip in the water! The best place for swimming in the Knysna Lagoon is at the little beach to the right of the East Head Café. You can park at the Café and walk down the steps to the right of the Café. There is a little cove shaded by Milkwood trees. Here you can swim in the beautiful lagoon water or even don your mask and snorkel and go for a snorkel. There are some remains of a shipwreck to the left hand side where all sorts of tropical fish hang out. We saw butterfly fish, parrot fish and four striped damsel fish, not to mention the massive starfishes!

Knysna Lagoon snorkeling in Knysna Lagoon

Explore the Knysna Lagoon by Boat

Another fantastic way to explore the Knysna Lagoon is by boat. Whether you hire a kayak, SUP, or do a sunset boat cruise, exploring Knysna by boat is a must! Here are a few boating options.

Knysna Lagoon

Knysna Lagoon

Visit Leisure Isle

Leisure Isle is a beautiful and upmarket neighbourhood in Knysna. You can go for a beautiful walk along the island in the Steenbok Nature Reserve, or go for a swim at Bollard Bay. This spot is very dog-friendly.

Leisure Isle, Knysna Leisure Isle, Knysna

Visit Thesen Island

Thesen Island is where the elite stay in Knysna. While it is impossible to access the residential area without owning property there, you are free to wander around some of the canals and bridges of this man-made island. The houses are pretty to look at and if you can manage to swim off one of the jetties you may see a Knysna Seahorse! Alternatively you can explore the Thesen Island canals by hiring a SUP from Ocean Odyssey.

Thesen Island

Image credit to Champagne on Arrival blog

Check out the Knysna Waterfront

The Knysna Waterfront is a great spot to grab dinner at a restaurant and watch the sunset.

Knysna Waterfront

Image credit to Champagne on Arrival blog

Go for a swim in the Knysna River and spot a Knysna Loerie

There is a lovely spot along the Phantom Pass where you can swim in the Knysna River. The location has a sign indicating the Westford Nature Reserve. However, you will not be able to find this on Google Maps. From the N2 turn-off to Phantom pass drive for about 4km (7 mins) and you should see a road to the right labeled Westford Nature Reserve. Drive down this gravel road and you will find a spot to park. Have a swim in the salty river and if you’re lucky you may spot a brilliantly green Knysna Loerie in the trees.

Knysna River

Go for a walk in the Knysna Forest: Garden of Eden

The Knysna Forest is the county’s largest forest. Filled with yellowwoods, stinkwoods and plenty of other tree species it is a place where one can really be fully immersed in nature. The Garden of Eden Forest Walk is probably the easiest way to access the Knysna Forest. This spot is located between Knysna and Plett. There is a small entrance fee to pay at the offices at the entrance to the walk (around R20). The walk is only 1km but a beautiful boardwalk walk through the forest. This is also a great pitstop if you have a long drive along the N2 and need a leg stretch.

Knysna Forest

Photo by Cape Town Guy

Check out the Harkerville Market

If you’re keen for a classic Garden Route Famer’s Market then the Harkerville Saturday Market is the closest one to Knysna. It is open on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.

Visit Brenton Beach

Brenton Beach is probably the nicest beach close to Knysna. This lovely long 7km stretch of beach is perfect for beach walks.

Brenton Beach

Image credit to Champagne on Arrival blog

Do the Robberg Nature Reserve Hike in Plett

The Robberg Nature Reserve Hike is one of the best hikes along the Garden Route. The hike has 3 different distance options: 2km, 5.5km, 11km. We did the 5.5km loop and absolutely adored it! I wrote a blog post with all the details you need to know to do the hike. Find it here.

Robberg Nature Reserve Hike

Robberg Nature Reserve Hike

Visit Sanctuary Beach in Plett

After you’ve done you hike at Robberg Nature Reserve have an ocean dip and relax at Santuary Beach in Plett.

Sanctuary Beach, Plett

Spending some time along the Garden Route and for another hike? Why not visit Storm’s River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park? Check out my blog on it here.

Is your Garden Route stop part of a bigger East Coast road trip? Why not check out my Cape Town to Coffee Bay blog post?

2 thoughts on “Knysna, The Garden Route

  1. I’ve lived in Knysna for 42 years and that was the most fantastic summing up of the region.🌳

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