Things to do in Knysna
Knysna has been voted South Africa's favourite town on two occasions. The area has wonderful sea and lagoon views, magical walks in the ancient indigenous forest and spectacular mountain views. Sea, forest and mountains on your doorstep!.
Garden Route National Park
The Garden Route National Park protects much of the indigenous Knysna Forest, and many of the mountains, beaches, lakes, lagoons, and fynbos areas between Tsitsikamma and George. It's almost 155,000 hectares in size, and largely unfenced. Animals in the park include the southernmost herd of African elephants (although they're very rarely seen).
- Birding (more than 250 species)
- Forest canopy tours
- Lagoon cruises - and more.
- Bollard Bay on Leisure Isle (7 km from the CBD): safe swimming at high tide in the shallow waters of the Lagoon.
- Coney Glen on the Eastern Head (8km from the CBD): spectacular but tiny beach worth visiting for the views. But please don't swim here!
- Brenton-on-Sea (18 km west of Knysna): walking, sunbathing, paragliding, fishing. Swimming isn't recommended.
- Buffalo Bay (20 km west of Knysna): great for families. Good surfing and fishing, and popular for the 5 km (3 mile) beach walk to Brenton-on-Sea.
- Noetzie (10 km east of Knysna): famous for its stone castles (although they aren't open to the public).
Adventures in Knysna
Whale and dolphin watching
- Ocean Odyssey - boat-based whale-watching and dolphin-watching tours through The Heads; also SUP (stand-up paddle board) hire. www.oceanodyssey.co.za
Lagoon boat cruises
Operating from the Featherbed Ferry Terminal at Cruise Cafe on Remembrance Drive:
- John Benn - Knysna's original wooden restaurant cruiser, www.knysnafeatherbed.com
- Paddle Cruiser - lunch-time and dinner cruises on South Africa's only working paddle boat www.knysnafeatherbed.com
- Three Legs Rivercat Experiences - 75-minute cruises on the Knysna Lagoon www.knysnafeatherbed.com
Yacht trips through The Heads
- Springtide Sailing Charters offers 90 minute to 4 1/2 hour sailing charters on the 52' luxury yacht Outeniqua www.springtide.co.za
- Heads Explorer - the Featherbed Company's 90 minute to 2 1/2 hour sailing charters on the Lagoon and through The Heads www.knysnafeatherbed.com (from the Featherbed Ferry Terminal at Cruise Cafe on Remembrance Drive)
Forest walks & hiking tours
- Featherbed Nature Reserve Eco-tours of the Western Head - these four-hour excursions include a boat ride, a land-train journey to the top of the headland, a guided 2.2 km walk, buffet lunch (on selected tours) and return boat trip. Departures: Featherbed Ferry Terminal at Cruise Cafe on Remembrance Drive www.knysnafeatherbed.com
- Tony Cook Adventures. Tony also offers canoeing, guided trail running tours, kiting & surfing trips, etc. www.knysnaforesttours.co.za
Dining out in Knysna
Knysna is heaven for foodies. Here are some of our favourite pubs and restaurants:
- 34 South at the Knysna Waterfront: Knysna oysters, seafood, sushi, pizza, bakery. Also sells wines and unusual gifts. Open for breakfast, lunch & supper. www.34south.biz
- Drydock Food Co. (Waterfront): lunch and dinner on the harbour's edge: seafood, salads, sushi, fusion cuisine, sinful desserts, and amazing cocktails. Live blues music at selected times. www.drydock.co.za
- Café Mario (Waterfront): One of Knysna's most famous Italian restaurants. Open all day. www.knysnawaterfront.com
- O'Pescador (Waterfront): Authentic LM-style Portuguese cuisine. Open for lunch and supper. www.knysnawaterfront.com
- Tapas & Oysters (Thesen Harbour Town): vibey waterfront bar and restaurant with kids play area. Live music on selected nights. From midday (ish) till late. www.tapasknysna.co.za
- Sirocco Restaurant (Thesen Harbour Town): Sushi, pizzas, and oysters for lunch and supper on the Lagoon edge. www.sirocco.co.za
- The Project Bar & Lounge (above Sirocco): sophisticated cocktails lounge and events venue with amazing views of the Knysna Lagoon. www.theprojectbar.co.za
- Urge Urban Café at Avo Pomme Creative Hub (Woodmill Lane shopping centre); coffee, cake, food, pressed juice, and kombucha - with occasional exhibitions and presentations. Every day from breakfast time till Woodmill Lane closes. www.avopomme.com
- East Head Café (Knysna Heads): probably the best views of any restaurant on the Garden Route. And great seafood, salads, and awesome desserts, too. Breakfast and lunch daily. www.eastheadcafe.co.za
- Bosun's Pub & Grill (Lower Old Place): British-style neigbourhood pub. A good place to meet the locals. Tuesdays to Satrudays from lunch(ish) to 11:00 p.m.; Sundays 12:00 to 6:00; Mondays 5:00 to 11:00 www.tripadvisor.co.za
- Riverdeck Restaurant &Farm Stall, Goukamma (on the road to Buffalo Bay): traditional Afrikaans fare (braais, baboeties, kuierkos, etc.). Also offers canoeing and other water activities. Daily from breakfast-time onwards. www.riverdeckrestaurant.co.za
- Totties Farm Kitchen, Rheenendal (on the 7-Passes road, close to the Goudveld Forests); restaurant and country store. Open Wednesday to Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and also from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. on Sundays for buffet lunches. www.tottiesfarmkitchen.co.za
Fine Art in Knysna
Knysna Fine Art gallery in Thesen House, corner Long and Union Streets, is required viewing for art collectors and art lovers alike. It specialises in contemporary South African art, handles works by the South African masters, and exhibits a number of internationally recognised fine artists. Open Monday to Saturday during normal business hours. www.finearts.co.za
Golf in Knysna
- Knysna Golf Club: 18 holes, par 73. Kikuyu fairways. Length: championship 5,924 m, club 5,924 m. Probably the only golf course in South Africa with holes below sea level. www.knysnagolfclub.com
- Pezula Championship Golf Course: 18 holes, par 72. Kentucky Blue and rye fairways. Length: championship 6,281 m, seniors 6,198 m, ladies 6,218 m and 5,027 m. Magnificent cliff-top links course designed by Ron Fream on Knysna's Eastern Head . www.pezula.co.za
- Simola Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course: 18 holes, par 72. Kikuyu fairways. Length: championship 6,033 m, ladies 4,595 m, seniors: 5,189 m, pro Ts 6,318 m. Parklands course designed by The Golden Bear himself. www.simolaestate.co.za
- Sedgefield Links: 9 hole short course. www.pinelakemarina.co.za/sedgelinksgolf
Cycling & mountain biking
The Garden Route was designed for cycling - through the indigenous Knysna Forests, the fynbos, local plantations, and even along cliff-top paths. Try these tracks and trails - or just climb on your bike and ride right from our doorstep:
- Garden Route Trail Park: awesome single track forest routes, pump track, BMX track, café, shower rooms, bike hire, and events. Near Karatara, 40 km from Knysna www.gardenroutetrailpark.com
- Garden Route National Park MTB Routes - in the Farleigh Forests, the Harkerville Forests, and the Diepwalle Forests. Various routes and distances for riders of most classes. SANParks requires you to buy permits before you ride: they're available from their offices on Thesen Island, Knysna: www.sanparks.org
- Cycle races: please visit Knysna Tourism's web site for regular updates about local cycle races. www.visitknysna.co.za/festivals
- Wild Oats Community Farmers Market, Sedgefield: Saturday mornings from 7:30 - 11:30 in summer; 8:00 - 11:30 in winter. Locally-produced foods, gifts, etc. www.wildoatsmarket.co.za
- The Friday Market at Knysna Montessori School: supper-time get-together (16:00 - 20:00: follow the scarecrows!) with local chefs, live entertainment, bonfires, kiddies jumping castles, body painting, etc. www.knysnamontessori.co.za
- Harkerville Market (off the N2, 18 km east of Knysna): Saturday mornings. Crafts, fresh produce, flea market. www.harkervillemarket.co.za
- Outeniqua Farmers Market, George (52 km from Knysna): Saturdays 8:00 - 2:00. Produce, food, craft, gifts. www.outeniquafarmersmarket.co.za
Knysna African Arts & Craft Market (George Rex Drive, Knysna): open every day. African sculpture, wire art, kitchen items.
- Templeman Square Craft Market (Main Street, Knysna): open every day. Jewellery, wooden crafts, printed fabrics, gifts and souvenirs.