Paternoster, A Piece of Heaven Where for South Africa Time Stands Still

The historic fishing village of Paternoster Western Cape South Africa is a mere 45-kilometre self-drive north of Langebaan on the West Coast where we over-nighted. Nobody seems quite sure why it takes its name from the first two words of the ‘Our Father’ prayer. Some say it recalls the final words that escaped the lips of shipwrecked seafarers.

Others say the necklaces of a local Khoi ‘bushman’ tribe reminded the survivors of Catholic rosaries. We are becoming a rainbow nation in South Africa. Let us focus on things to do in Paternoster for the modern tourist as opposed to dwelling in the past.

Paternoster Western Cape South Africa: Fishing Boats
Paternoster Fishing Boats: Michael Clarke / CC BY-SA 2.0

Paternoster Western Cape South Africa

The Paternoster Fishing Fleet

Paternoster is a pillar of the community, and offers many commercial fishing jobs. The men brave the seas in tiny fibreglass fishing boats some named for their women. They in turn pray for their men’s safe return overloaded to the gunwales with mussels, lobsters, snoek and hauls of tasty pilchards rich in omega 3. Arrive at the beach on an incoming tide, and you may have a rich haul by local fisher folk from which to choose.

Paternoster Western Cape South Africa: Fisher folf setting their catch
Fisher folk selling their catch at Paternoster: Octagon / CC BY 3.0

Give Thanks for a Good Catch

There are a lot of things to do in Paternoster for visitors to discover on the coast and inland. Cape wild flowers are magnificent in the spring as ever, while the ocean invites with beach hiking, kite flying, kayaking, kitesurfing, scuba diving, snorkelling, and for the brave swimming in the invigorating West Coast water. The lighthouse in the Cape Columbine Reserve still has a human hand on the controls. If you arrive at night in Cape Town 140 kilometres to the south by ship, this is the first light you may see.

Paternoster Western Cape South Africa: Lighthouse
Paternoster Lighthouse: Mart Bouter / CC 3.0

Sunday Morning, Endless Beaches

Paternoster has much to provide the eco-tourist bent on sharing wild flowers in the wheat fields inland, and Atlantic beaches with friendly, local people. Dolphins and whales are an almost year-round feature. The sunsets are legendary, but the accommodations is scarce. The beach stretches for eight kilometres into the distance, and there is a vibrant artist community providing ultimate Paternoster souvenirs. This is a place for everyone, where real people live happily in their little piece of heaven.

Paternoster Western Cape South Africa: Fishing boats on the beach
Fishing boats on the beach of Paternoster, Western Cape: Mike Lomax / CC BY-SA 3.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

Other posts by the Author

Leave a Reply