11 Things to see and do in Knysna

Knysna, which is pronounced as “nice-nah”, is a small town in the heart of the Garden Route of South Africa. The Garden Route is found on the east of Cape Town and features probably the most beautiful beaches, mountains and rivers of South Africa. The climate is mild throughout the year and there are several activities to savor, including whale watching, hiking, ostrich riding, Golf, bungee jumping, swimming and more.

Knysna is certainly a popular town, and throughout summer months (December-January), it can end up being very crowded. It is nestled between the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua mountains. There is a large lagoon present here, which is good for aquatic adventures. The woods surrounding the lagoon are perfect for leisure walks.

Short history

Pirates preying upon merchant ships first used Knysna, which is a Khoi San word for the “Place of wood”. This place was the perfect safe harbor for them. In addition, it was easy for them to repair their ships, as the place was full of hardwood forests. George Rex, who was the son of George III of England, colonized this place for the first time after he was banished from England in 1797. His grave in the “Old Place” is considered a national monument.

Here are some of the best things to do in Knysna:

1. Enjoy the beach

In the event the tides are high, it is possible to swim quite safely at the Bollards beach, present at the top end of the Leisure Island. Additionally there is a sandy beach, which is perfect for sandcastles. At the bottom end of the island, there exists a grassy, shaded picnic area with barbecues and toilets. If you prefer a very romantic walk along the beach, you can walk all the way from Brenton-on-sea to Buffalo Bay (about 5 miles). Don’t ignore the warning signs on the beaches that often have very strong currents.

2. Find solace in the forest

Knysna is flanked by numerous forest spots with routes of varying length. Before entering the forests, make sure that you have the permit. It is also good to have a map of the area with you.

In case you are a biking enthusiast, there are numerous routes to explore in the forests. At Millwood, you can find a 19 km cycle path starting from Krisjan-se-nek. In Diepwalle, there is a 24-mile Petrus-see Mark route ending at the Garden of Eden.

3. Have a township tour

Like many other South African towns, Knysna has also realized that townships can turn out to be a consistent source of income. There are many township tours available in the region. These tours take you through the townships of the region where you can witness the day to day living of the local people. You may also visit one of the largest Rastafarian communities of South Africa. Township tours are meant for those who want to fully discover Knysna.

4. Bird watching

Stop by the first “big tree” sign you see and then progress for a walk in the woods with a tree guide in hands. Wide variety of bird habitats available at Knysna make birding good for the visitors all year long. Watch out for waders and waterfowl at Woodbourne Marsh (in addition to the George Rex drive) and alongside the causeway for Leisure Island.

5. Dive the lagoon

The Knysna Lagoon houses the world’s only seahorse specie named estuaries. However, they are so small that you cannot easily spot one. Instead of that, you can focus on the wreck of the Paquita, which is present 16 m below the surface.

6. Stare into the eyes of an elephant

When your children hand feed the elephants in the Knysna Elephant Park, they would want to work for their welfare in future. Make sure that you wear old clothes, as you will probably be engrossed in elephant spit.

7. Enjoy the view from Western Head

If you have wondered why both the heads of Knysna don’t have houses, then you should know that the Western head is a private nature reserve, referred to as Featherbed. The tour starts with a 25-minute boat ride over the lagoon. Thereafter, you are driven to a viewpoint where you will have the option to either go back or get ahead for a 2.2 kilometers walk through the milkwood forest ending with a multi-course buffet dinner.

8. Picnic inside a secluded cove

The road over the Eastern head of Knysna is quite steep in places, but travelling this road is the only option you have if you want to go to the sheltered cove known as Coney Glen. Coney Glen has a shady, grassy picnic site, where you may barbecue or sit on a sandy beach with your camera to capture the tides.

9. Go fishing

Fishing in Knysna is always great; however, you need to get a fishing permit from the Knysna Post office. Try fishing from the pier in the Knysna lagoon or surf off the rocks at Buffalo Bay or Brenton-on-sea.

10. Picnic at Jubilee Creek

Stock some pastries and sandwiches, and head to the Knysna forest for a picnic. Jubilee Creek has a beautiful picnic spot on the banks of Millwood Creek, a forest stream meandering around the 1.8 km trail to a pristine rock pool where one can also swim. In order to visit this spot, you will need permission from an office located nearby.

11. Have a cruise trip across the lagoon

Take a cruise across the lagoon on the most famous River Cat or John Benn ferries. These panoramic Cruises depart from the front of the Cruise Café Restaurant, and take passengers across the famous heads. This gives you an incredible and very different view of the islands.

Accommodation options

As soon as you arrive in Knysna, you will witness the unspoiled surroundings and thoughtful amenities. The accommodation options include self-catering cottages, self-catering chalets, honeymoon suites and luxury chalets with spa baths.

The Knysna has numerous activities to offer, making it one of the most diverse and exciting regions of South Africa. These were just a few things to accomplish in Knysna. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are several activities available to explore, starting from hiking to mountain biking. For the less energetic ones, you can enjoy the island boarding one of the many wonderful boat cruises.

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