(Quick note: I actually wrote this last year and just never finished it. Now, seeing as we are coming up on the same period of the year once more, I thought I’d stitch together some scraps from the original draft and this is what I came up with. It really only covers a small piece of the entire adventure we had but I thought it worked nicely enough as a stand-alone piece. Hope it makes sense :P)
As summer drew to a close some mates and I decided we could squeeze one last getaway in before we finally relegated our vests and boardies to the back of our wardrobes and settled in with our beanies and hoodies, whinging about the cold winter blues. One buddy’s dad has a quiet little seaside retreat literally a stonecast (depending on your arm) off one of the most beautiful beaches our country has to offer (and I’ve made it my life’s mission to frequent as many of these as possible and the pristine sands and abundance of unspoilt splendour push it right near the top picks) so we set our sights on the home-base of Paradise Beach, just a few km’s outside of Jeffrey’s Bay, up South Africa’s legendary East Coast.
We spent our time lounging about, lazing on beaches, popping into cafes for ice-creams and generally tomfooling our way through the now emptying coastal villages. The road trip up was a blissful exhibition of everything a tarmac adventure should be: good mates, great playlists, a little bit of mischief and some casual and indiscriminate sight-seeing. We pretty much adopted a ‘come-what-may’ attitude and let the journey create itself. We pitstopped at a casino, a wine retailer, every petrol station we could find and even some we didn’t mean to (no jokes, we got lost on a straight road! Wouldn’t have had it any other way!) with trusty cameras always at the ready. Even if it was just a quick snap with a cellphone, no happening went uncaptured.
From our home-base we happily trotted about this little enclave, consisting of three tightly-wound little bays, sampling the best of local cuisine (do not pass up a chance to dine on calamari- I repeat, do not!), enchanting beverage specials and daily activities such as visiting a wildcat and animal rehabilitation centre, hitting up some giant dunes for a spot of sandboarding, benevolently trespassing on farms (we couldn’t pass on some amazing pics at a now dilapidated spot where the ruins of old silos and farm outhouses were calling our names like land-bound sirens in the dusky hue of a late afternoon – excuse the dramatics but I’m just showing that although I do not advocate illegalities and trespassing, some moments are just too good – and fun – to pass up!) or reminiscing at some old haunts we frequented in our younger days.
If you do get the chance and are in the area, take the time to hazard the 14km stretch of dirt road that leads away from St Francis and takes you down to the oft overlooked getaway of Oyster Bay, it is a real treat and well worth the visit. I, myself, had never been to the sleepy little town despite spending a two and a half month stint living in the area on a summer break and also having returned later for little holidays. I was pleasantly surprised. Oyster Bay is really little more than a village, with one general dealer, supplying everything from a hammer and nails to selections of the local biltong, with the post office and the town’s only petrol pumps occupying the same space, identifying the town as a modern-day ‘one-horse town’ if ever there was one.
We popped into the shop to ask if we could get some cardboard boxes to fulfill that age-old childhood fantasy of sliding down the enormous dunes that we had spotted on our drive in. The owner of the store did us one better and lent us his own sandboard, on provision that we took good care of it, fortunately we didn’t let him down and we ventured into the dunes unknowing of the further spectacles we were to behold.
As one approaches the beach, sections of rubble alert you to the devastating flood that happened in Oyster Bay a few years ago, leaving a wake of destruction in its path, yet also providing an amazing snapshot of how nature takes everything into its folds and has the ability to rebuild from even the most destructive of natural disasters. The area is now an amazing biosphere of the worlds where beach, shrub and man’s rubble all meet, co-existing somewhat beautifully in a single landscape. We enjoyed our time frolicking in the untouched sands as time stood still for us one more time.
Although the area has become rather ‘built-up’ as of late with JBay now sporting a rather large shopping centre, which I at first considered an eyesore but have now come to realise as a necessary evil, there are still a number of secluded spots if one simply takes the time to seek them out. This is surely the base conviction of every ‘great adventurer’, to discover rather than simply follow. So get on it, go find something!