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Ramsgate, Port Shepstone

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Ramsgate at a glance

Area Profile: Ramsgate

Ramsgate is definitely one of the most popular South Coast holiday and retirement destinations. The “sister” towns of Ramsgate and Margate both attract holiday makers from across South Africa and around the globe. It offers a wide range of accommodation options to local and international visitors; from self-catering apartments, bed-and breakfast establishments, to large residential homes, specially designed for expanded family holidays.

Despite its close proximity to Margate, Ramsgate offers a decidedly different, more laid-back, secluded, “quaint village” experience. Another unique feature of Ramsgate, is how conveniently located its accommodations are to the sea and surf, and all essential amenities; including retailers, restaurants, and medical practitioners (to name a few).            

Ramsgate is located on the mouth of the Bilanhlolo ("the marvellous lous boiler") river. This Zulu name refers to the bubbles made by its strong currents; creating the effect of boiling water. Renowned for its Blue Flag status; Ramsgate’s main beach is beautifully level, secluded and surrounded by lush, green coastal Tangle wood Forest; which provides an ideal “wind shield” for bathers on the beach. There are several fishing spots, a tidal pool, a tranquil lagoon, the magnificent Whale Deck lookout point, and a ski boat launch just south of Ramsgate’s main beach.

Historically, Ramsgate was named Fascadale; inhabited by survivors of the ship that bore this name, which was wrecked just off neighbouring Southbroom in 1895. This four-masted steel barque was en route from Mauritius to Lisbon and ran onto the large rocks seawards of the Southbroom hotel’s tidal pool.  Captain Smith was not on board at the time, and the first mate, Alfred Julius, was in charge. Sadly, two crewmembers were lost due to drowning.  Fortunately, the arrival of Norham Castle, a steamer, prevented any further loss of life. Some of the survivors settled in an area alongside the (currently named) Ramsgate lagoon. Fascadale was later renamed Blue Lagoon, but residents finally settled on Ramsgate.

Attractions and activities

For those who don't want to spend their time just lazing on the beach, Ramsgate also offers leisure and sporting facilities galore, including water sports such as boating, kayaking, diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and horse riding. There are scenic walks; like the Ramsgate Marine Ramble. This walkway offers hikers and nature enthusiasts a well-maintained and easy-to-follow 6 km path from just outside Margate in the north, to Ramsgate in the centre, and Southbroom in the south. This gorgeous stretch of coastline offers spectacular views of the ocean, coastal forest and dunes. Whales and dolphins are also often and easily spotted along this route.             

For golf lovers, both Southbroom and Margate Country Clubs nearby feature superb greens and challenging designs, magnificent tree-lined fairways and stunning South Coast scenery. Lower South Coast golf courses are truly desirable destinations for golfing enthusiasts. These courses stretch from Southbroom Golf Club, to Margate, Port Shepstone, Selborne and Umdoni, most of which are within a leisurely hour’s drive from Durban.

The bird watching is excellent in and around Ramsgate. With around 386 species having been recorded, this represents more than a third of all bird species in South Africa!

There are several nature reserves in the vicinity of Ramsgate. Bellevue Park offers a fun, interactive experience for adults and kids, to appreciate the critical importance of nature conservation and to discover the local fauna and flora. The park offers a wide variety of trees, forest, ponds and streams inhabited by naturally occurring wildlife. There is a small tuckshop, a picnic area and obstacle course for those seeking more active engagement with the surroundings of the park.

The Frederika Nature Preserve, donated to neighbouring Southbroom in 1977 by environmentalist Leo Driessen, is a National Heritage Site, consisting of 8 hectares of mature, virgin dune forest bordering the 16th,17th, and 2nd fairways of the Southbroom golf course.

Ramsgate Butterfly Valley offers a magnificent variety of indigenous butterflies; which can be enjoyed within a natural, accessible environment in a flight dome. There is also a butterfly breeding centre, and a special section containing unusual insects, spiders, lizards and other creepy creatures.

A visit to the Riverbend Crocodile Farm (about 3 km south) is definitely worthwhile also.       

For the more adventurous, there are two world-renowned dive-sites nearby: Aliwal Shoal (about 5 km offshore from Scottborough), and the Protea Banks (about 8 km offshore from Shelly Beach). Experienced dive operators offer diving trips to these reefs and the chance to encounter any of at least seven shark species, with frequent sightings of Zambesi, Tiger, Ragged Tooth, and Hammerheads. Soft cage diving is also offered for less skilled divers.

Retail and Culinary therapy….

Ramsgate offers quite a selection of eateries and “linger longers” – the best known include: 

  • The Waffle House has become a landmark establishment around these parts, and besides their selection of decadently delicious waffles (sweet or savoury) there are meals on offer for just about any palate;
  • Crayfish Inn (in operation since 1944), famous for its seafood, but also offering beef or chicken options; and 
  • Pistols Saloon and Wild West Museum where the food has a distinct “cowboy campfire”/ western flavour, with some (surprising) German dishes too. The museum has plenty of interesting cowboy memorabilia and you will get to meet Huckleberry the donkey – a regular, much loved patron of the pub! He only drinks Coke (from a can) and also loves carrots.

There are of course, many other eateries and pubs to choose from – but the above is where you should start, we think. 

Art lovers can visit the Gaze Gallery to appreciate the magnificent glasswork, ceramics and paintings on display. Well known sculptor Nic Grobler is based in Ramsgate too for those in search of his unique bronze sculptings – always in demand.

For some serious shopping and pampering, spend the day at one of these South Coast malls near Ramsgate:

Shelly Beach Mall (about 12 km north from Ramsgate)
South Coast Mall (about 14 km north from Ramsgate)

Rendezvous Mall (about 4km north from Ramsgate)
 

Also visit these towns near Ramsgate:

South from Ramsgate:

Southbroom - 7.1km from Ramsgate accommodation.
San Lameer - 7.9km from Ramsgate accommodation.
Marina Beach - 10.3km from Ramsgate accommodation.

North of Ramsgate:

Margate - 4.3km from Ramsgate accommodation.
Manaba Beach - 8.5km from Ramsgate accommodation.
St Michaels-on-Sea - 11.3km from Ramsgate accommodation.
Shelly Beach - 13.3km from Ramsgate accommodation.

 

Nearby Points of Interest

References:

  1. https://www.afristay.com/a/ramsgate/
  2. https://www.sa-venues.com/attractionskzn/ramsgate.php
  3. https://www.wheretostay.co.za/town/ramsgate

   

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