For 90% of the year, Knysna is a quaint, quiet town on the banks of a gorgeous lagoon. The only time it transforms into a bustling hub of excitement and activity is over the summer holidays (December and January) and for 10 days in winter, when the Knysna Oyster Festival hits this scenic Garden Route gem with a bang…
The Knysna Oyster Festival
This year, the festival is from 29 June to 8 July 2018. This is perfect because the kids will be on school holiday from 22 June to 17 July, and there will be more than 100 activities over the course of the 10 days. These include no fewer than five major sporting events – a lagoon swim, 80km cycle, 15km trail run, 32km mountain bike, and 21.1km marathon.
Children always have a blast at the Oyster Festival too. There is the amusement park with fun (and nerve-wracking) rides, as well as inflatable slides, ghost houses, and interactive games. Every day, there are activities for little ones too; such as baking, beading, pavement art competitions, and art classes.
There are beer tents and food vendors aplenty, as well as live entertainment. The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival really is a vibey hotspot for the whole family.
But, beyond just the festival, Knysna has so much to offer its visitors too. In June 2017, Knysna was ravaged by fires that became one of the biggest natural disasters to hit South Africa. Although homes and countryside were decimated by the inferno, this resilient town has bounced back…
The hills are green again and the trees have proven that nature is a powerful force. So, as Knysna rises from its ashes, visitors from around the world are encouraged to support it and its recovery.
Visitors that want to experience the fun of the festival also have plenty of other fabulous things to see and do in and around Knysna. These include:
This is one of the most stunning walks, taking you through a forest, past caves and mines, and to a crystal-clear waterfall and pool that is just perfect for a dip.
Encircling the quaint harbour, the Knysna Waterfront has loads of shops, restaurants and curio stalls. It’s also the spot from which a few of the cruises leave to explore the lagoon, or go in search of dolphins and whales. Some of the restaurants here include the acclaimed 34 Degrees South, Mario’s, JJ’s, Dry Dock, Spur and Ocean Basket.
The Heads and East Head Café
Visit the viewing decks at the top of one of the mountain heads that overlooks the narrow passage where the ocean enters the lagoon. These are seriously breath-taking views that are dramatic and make for stunning photo opps. At the foot of this mountain is the fantastic East Head Café, which has impressive views of the ocean and The Heads. The food is fresh and innovative, and the service superior.
Brenton on Sea and Brenton Blu Restaurant
An absolutely beautiful long stretch of beach that is perfect for lazy strolls or more energetic runs. The Butterflu Blu restaurant has massive glass sides that let you enjoy the far-reaching views of Brenton and Buffalo Bay while enjoying really top-notch food.
This stunning restaurant has a play park with plenty of different things to keep little ones busy, as well as a cycling track, bikes for hire, and a hutch with bunnies and guinea pigs. The pizzas come straight out of a pizza oven, and the setting is pretty and peaceful.
The Heath and Radical Raptors
This is a must for families. It is 20 minutes outside Knysna (closest to Plettenberg Bay) and offers interactive raptor shows, as well as a restaurant and play area under the trees. But, to call it a play area is an understatement. Although it’s small, there are ziplines, mini-carousel roundabouts, awesome swings and domed jungle gyms.
Starting the day off on the greens and fairways is many people’s idea of perfection. Knysna is home to a number of golf courses, of which Pezula and Simola are both excellent and award-winning courses. But, more than just great golfing, these estates are home to world-class restaurants and indulgent spas.
Explore the informal settlements that are perched on the hills overlooking the hub of Knysna. The rich culture, delicious food and vibrant people are such an important part of the South African rainbow. So, explore it, appreciate it, and be part of it.
Of course, this is hardly an exhaustive list of all that Knysna has to offer. Some of its other must-see and must-do attractions include:
- The Knysna Elephant Park
- Birds of Eden
- Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary
- Beaches (Buffalo Bay, Brenton on Sea, and the sandy shores around the Knysna Lagoon)
- Sunset cruises
- Water sports on the lagoon
Where to Stay
Knysna lost a few of its beautiful guest houses and lodges in the fire. But, there are many Knysna accommodation options available to welcome local and international visitors to the Oyster Festival and the many other gorgeous things that Knysna has to offer. Book soon to avoid disappointment. See here for places to stay WITH availability for the Knysna Oyster Festival (Note: at the time of writing, these establishments have availability. It is recommended to book soon as this is a premium event and properties are booked up quickly).