This month’s Hometown Tour Guide is Stacie, a professional writer from South Africa. Her hometown sounds absolutely wonderful and she is obviously very proud of it. Check out what she has to say….
What is the name of your hometown and where is it?
More of a village than a town, I live in beautiful Munster which is just a tiny part of the picturesque Hibiscus Coast (also known as the South Coast) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
What, if anything, is your hometown famous for?
Aside from the multitude of magnificent beaches that the Hibiscus Coast has to offer, we are well known for the movies that are regularly filmed in the area. Just a few of these include Tarzan and the Lost City (1998), Blood Diamond (2006) and Sleeper’s Wake (2012). The climate, vegetation and variety of locations combine to result in the Hibiscus Coast being a filmmaker’s dream.
The Top 5 Attractions are:
- Annual Sardine Run: Each year during Winter (usually between May and July) millions of sardines travel along the coastline and beach at several locations on the Hibiscus Coast. This also brings with it a large number of other aquatic creatures such as sharks, dolphins and whales. The ocean teems with activity during this time and it is a spectacular sight to behold.
- Africa Bike Week: This is the number one event for bikers and those who love motorcycles. The Africa Bike Week is held annually and involves a long distance bike run which culminates in a weekend event in Margate consisting of all things related to bikes.
- Nightingale Shipwreck: In 1933 The Nightingale trawler ran aground on the rocks of Glenmore Beach (although the name is confusing, Glenmore Beach is technically in Munster and not in Glenmore) and some of its remains can be visited during low tide. Bits of porcelain and other small odds and ends still wash up on the beach and can be collected.
- The Red Desert: Situated next to Port Edward, which is only a few minutes drive from Munster, the Red Desert is the smallest desert in the world. It is only just 200m across and is encircled by tropical vegetation, grasslands, wetlands and forests. The Red Desert is considered to be a mysterious phenomenon given that its origins are unclear.
- Mac Banana Lifestyle Centre: Located on the beautiful Mac Banana Estate, this is the perfect place to go for a relaxed, yet exciting, day out in the Munster area. Stores, restaurants and activities abound. The Food & Wine Emporium has a wonderful and vast array of tasty goodies – many of which are locally sourced – with a very tempting cheese “room” that will ensnare you. There is also a range of activities for those who would like to spend more time outdoors. Mac Banana has the best adventure (mini) golf course that I have ever played on as it is challenging, great fun and surrounded by water features, banana pants and stunningly flowering shrubs. There are also tours of the banana plantation which can be done on quad bikes or Segways and they have paintball for those who are looking for a higher level of excitement – and yes, I can confirm that paintball does hurt so practice your stealth!
Are there any local sports teams? Where do they play?
As sport is not one of my strong points, I asked around the community and have been told that our local rugby team is the South Coast Warriors who play at Douglas Mitchell Sports Grounds and our local soccer team is the Gamalakhe Warriors who play at the Gamalakhe Stadium. We also have a wide number of dance groups on the Hibiscus Coast as well as fishing teams, cyclists and many surfers.
My 3 Favourite Restaurants are:
- The Lobster Pot: This is my all time favourite restaurant on the Hibiscus Coast and I have never had a meal there that was not absolutely delicious! Small and quaint with an undeniable old-school charm, The Lobster Pot is situated in Ramsgate which is roughly a 15 minute drive from Munster. Although very focused on seafood, there is also a wide variety of meals to suit those with other tastes. Perfect for any occasion from a family get together to a romantic couple’s night out, this is my go-to restaurant for when I want excellent food, great value for money and a lovely atmosphere.
- Beaver Creek Coffee Estate: Although not strictly a restaurant, I simply had to include this on the list as it is such a wonderful place to visit and to have a relaxed lunch out in the open air. Beaver Creek grows, harvests and roasts all of its own speciality coffees and having been in the business for more than three decades is evident in their final products which include a range of world-wide coffees in addition to those produced on the estate. The Estate Café has a wonderful selection of light lunches and nibbles that can be eaten in the garden whilst enjoying the views of the farm. My favourite part is that they offer a bottomless coffee option where you can drink to your heart’s content from the several varieties that they offer each day. Located in the farmlands adjacent to Port Edward, Beaver Creek is the perfect place to spend a lazy Sunday.
- Beach Bobbies Restaurant and Cocktail Bar: Directly alongside Port Edward main beach, Beach Bobbies is a great place to go for a meal or a drink at any time of day. Wonderful food at reasonable prices and a magnificent view of the ocean is already more than enough to make this one of my favourite restaurants on the Hibiscus Coast, but I can also admit that they have converted me into a Strawberry Daiquiri fan! I have never been overly fond of most cocktails; however, the massive Strawberry Daiquiri from Beach Bobbies is like drinking an enormous fruit juice that also gets you rather tipsy. Thick, smooth and not too sweet, it is the perfect drink for relaxing to the sights and sounds of the sea.
I must also just make a special mention of Charlie’s Pizza situated in Munster. Owned by a friendly biker couple, this pizzeria makes the best pizza for miles around. Service is always quick and efficient and the pizza itself never fails to impress.
My 3 Favourite Bars/Pubs are:
- The Village Tavern: Over the past few years this has possibly become the best known bar/pub on the Hibiscus Coast. Great prices (they boast the lowest priced drinks on the coast!), a lively atmosphere with ample outdoor seating and a great pub food menu all add to the appeal of this Gaul inspired drinking spot. If you visit the Village Tavern, be sure to taste their pizza as you won’t regret it. The Village Tavern also hosts an event called Spring Razzle where you can enjoy some of the best local bands as well as bands that have travelled from other areas specifically to perform at this night that shows support for South African music. For fellow metalheads, it is also the only event on the Hibiscus Coast that caters to those who have a passion for metal and hard rock.
- 7th Heaven Pub & Grill: This venue boasts a restaurant, 2 bars, big screen televisions for the sports fans, 2 beer gardens, a swimming pool, a braai (barbeque) area, kiddies play zone and ample parking. 7th Heaven has a great Sunday buffet at a very low price, a wide range of drinks, entertainment on selected nights and regular specials. Seating is available indoors and outdoors and be sure to say hello to the gorgeous parrot that lives in the pool area – he is a very friendly fellow.
- The Cock & Tail Café: As the name suggests, this is a cocktail bar which is located in Margate with a wonderful view of the Margate main beach. A prime spot for holiday makers, the drinks are plenty and the sights are many. Cock & Tail has been around for a very long time and has always been the place to go for a wide range of exotic drinks and a fun night out.
The Top 3 Hotels are:
Although the Hibiscus Coast does have an array of traditional style hotels for those who prefer that form of accommodation, I have chosen to take a different angle and invite you to the following venues that have a special charm of their own.
- Thandulula: The 50min drive from Munster is utterly worth it to spend some time at the truly stunning Thandulula. This venue offers luxury tented accommodation (“glamping” as it is known to some) in tranquillity surrounded by utterly unspoilt nature. The tents are as luxurious as they claim to be and you will enjoy the best night’s sleep of your life when you stay at Thandulula. The owners are friendly without being intrusive and they genuinely go out of their way to ensure that their guests have an amazing time. Thandulula has earned each and every one of their four stars and everyone should visit at least once in their lives – although it is hard to stay away once you have experienced it!
- The Merry Crab: Although I have not yet had the pleasure of staying at The Merry Crab, I have had dealings with the owners and they are some of the kindest and sweetest people you will meet. The Merry Crab is located in Munster itself and offers its guests a fairytale seaside experience. The location, accommodation and wildlife are beautiful and you will fall in love with the beachy charm the moment that you first arrive. This award winning venue pays attention to all the right details and your stay will be casual, peaceful and filled with days spent on the beautiful beach just metres away from your doorstep.
- Treetops Lodge: Although most visitors to the Hibiscus Coast are drawn here for the beaches, there are those who visit solely due to the magnificent vegetation. For those who love a great tropical hideaway, Treetops Lodge will provide you with what you are looking for. The units provide all that you will need for a self-catering stay and you will be swept away by the beauty of your surroundings as you sip your morning coffee whilst gazing over the lush gardens which are a butterfly paradise. Conveniently, Treetops Lodge is just minutes away from the heart of Margate (although you would never guess this from the peace and quiet that surrounds you!) which makes it the ideal place to stay for when you want to get away from it all but still be close enough to enjoy the attractions of town.
Why do you love your hometown?
There are so many reasons to love Munster that it can be difficult to simplify it into a single entry! Especially as there is nothing that I can say which would truly describe the beauty that surrounds those of us who are lucky enough to live in this little village.
I am madly passionate about nature and one of the truly lovely things about Munster is that it is a nature conservation area. We have an abundance of free roaming wildlife and when driving through the area you will notice a multitude of street signs warning you of deer. They are regularly spotted and it is very common to see them along the sides of the roads; particularly in the evenings and early mornings. We also have wild Vervet monkeys, Nile Monitor lizards (one of whom visits our home to make use of the swimming pool on a very regular basis), a variety of small mammals and a diverse number of different bird species. Munster is a dream come true for anyone who enjoys seeing animals live their lives freely.
Another reason that I love living in Munster is a slight cliché although I am not ashamed to admit it – the beaches! Although all the beaches along the Hibiscus Coast are beautiful and I may be slightly biased in my opinion, the beaches in and around Munster are prettier than most. Wide expanses of soft sand surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and the deepest blue seas that stretch further than the eye can see are bound to render you silent in awe. It is simply impossible to visit a beach in the area and not feel the enormity and power of nature.
Who should visit your hometown?
Anyone and everyone! The Hibiscus Coast has so much to offer and there is a lot that people do not know about as websites and other large-scale advertising methods are not common place in the relaxed lifestyle of the area. Although we have most modern amenities, there is undoubtedly an old world feeling to the way of life on the Hibiscus Coast. A truly cosmopolitan mixture of locals who are fiercely proud of the beauty that we have to offer, a community that is largely passionate about nature and animals, the most captivating landscapes and areas that are still untainted by mankind. These are the things that make up the fabric of our community and we look forward to sharing our little piece of Utopia with those who find their way to the Hibiscus Coast.
South Africa has 11 official languages; however, the most commonly spoken is English. The Hibiscus Coast used to be predominantly an English speaking area but in recent years the number of Afrikaans speakers has increased. Afrikaans is very similar to Dutch so visitors who speak Dutch or German can also converse with Afrikaans locals. Most business is conducted in English and visitors will almost always be addressed in English as we are very used to foreign tourists. Visitors also have great fun trying to learn a few words of an African language during their stay.
The currency used in all parts of South Africa is the South African Rand (ZAR but simply known as R here). The current exchange rate makes South African travel incredibly affordable for foreign tourists; in particular those from European countries.
Thank you again to Stacie for being this month’s Hometown Tour Guide. Munster looks and sounds fantastic and has certainly been added to our ever growing list.