A unique holiday destination with unique swimming spots – a summer holiday in Knysna is about more than just beaches!
When choosing a summer vacation destination on the Garden Route, having a beach nearby plays an important role. The beaches near Knysna are all clean, beautiful and safe, and the main beach at Buffalo Bay offers family friendly, safe swimming. But there are many unique swimming spots near Knysna to discover. Some may be well-known, some may be a little hidden, some may even be hard to reach – but all of them are exceptional, and all of them are worth exploring.
The Knysna forest is known for its indigenous plants, calling birds, scurrying wildlife and unparalleled beauty. Lesser known are the magical swimming spots hidden amongst the ferns and giant trees.
Jubilee Creek is a popular picnic spot in the forests outside of Rheenendal. Hike the short trail along the stream to the abandoned gold mines and, if the area has had sufficient rainfall, find a few pools to wade in. This is a relatively easy family activity.
Fern Pool is named for the ferns and tree ferns that line the water’s edge. Water tumbles down a moss covered rock wall into this magical pool that looks like a set for a fantasy movie. Close to the 5km marker on the 9km Circles in the Forest Trail loop (also known as the Woodcutter Trail), Fern Pool takes a bit of effort to get to, but it is well worth the trouble.
Drupkelders (loosely translated to dripping cellars) is a quiet swimming spot at the bottom of a gorge in the Homtini River. You’ll reach the gorge after a 3.5km hike along the Drupkelders Hiking Trail, but then you are faced with a steep, 600m descent to the river over rocks and exposed roots. You are, however, rewarded with an experience as close to nature as one can get as the park only allows entry to 12 visitors per day. So rally the troops and you may just have this unique swimming spot all to yourselves.
The Perdekop Trail in the Harkerville forest section of the Garden Route National Park offers a small, fern lined pool ideal for cooling off in. Halfway along the 10km route you’ll find a river crossing above a small waterfall that tumbles into the pool below.
Knysna’s beaches are legendary and very popular. Other than sandy stretches along inviting waves, there are a few swimming spots that are unique to the greater Knysna area.
Noetzie beach is like no other in the area. Bordered by indigenous forests, with the Noetzie River mouth opening into the ocean and castles on the beach, this is a truly unique swimming spot. But take care, the currents here may be very unpredictable and it is suggested that you enjoy some shallow wading at this spectacular beach.
Gericke’s Point at Swartvlei beach, just west of Sedgefield, is known for the imposing sandstone outcropping in the shape of a resting lion or sphinx, aptly named Lion Rock. A rock shelf is exposed at spring low tides, offering a number of pools that are ideal for snorkelling and close encounters with the marine life. This activity should only be considered during the safety of the spring low tides.
Doing lengths in the lagoons
The intricate network of estuaries, rivers and lakes is teeming with swimming spots. The best way to explore them is canoeing with friends, making your swimming spot wherever you choose to jump into the water. But there are unique spots at the water’s edge that are especially family friendly with beaches to play on and safe swimming.
Bollard Bay on Leisure Island is a local favourite spot, so get there early. Laze on the beach and swim in the shallow waters of the Knysna lagoon – all while enjoying uninterrupted views of the Knysna Heads.
Swartvlei River mouth
The Swartvlei River mouth in Sedgefield is another popular spot amongst locals and holiday makers. Even when the mouth is open to the ocean this is a safe swimming spot – but beware of the pull of the outgoing tide.
The Island in Sedgefield may sound like a surprising swimming spot. But park at the southern end of the island and walk a short distance to the secluded beach on the Swarvlei estuary. This little beach has views of the natural hills and dunes across the water and is a family friendly swimming spot for everyone to enjoy.
- Always keep an eye on children and those not too comfortable in the water.
- If lifesavers are on duty where you’re planning your swim, do so within the designated area.
- The forest pools are within the Garden Route National Park. Contact the Visitor Information Centres or SANParks Knysna for information on opening times, permits and entry fees.
- The water in rivers, pools and even sections of estuaries are likely to have a dark brown or reddish colour. This is simply due to the tannins that have leached into the water from the roots of surrounding plants and is quite harmless.
- If you cannot see into the water, enter it carefully. You don’t want to jump onto a submerged tree trunk or rock.
- Guard against the South African sun – remember to pack sunscreen, a hat and lots of water.