“Due to its ideal location, Knysna is ranked within the top 100 holiday destinations and one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the world!”
Welcome to Knysna, a Khoi San word for “place of wood”, a natural paradise home to lush, indigenous forests, tranquil lakes and golden beaches.
This vibrant town is nestled on the banks of a breathtakingly picturesque lagoon, now a protected marine reserve that is home to the sea horse and over 200 species of fish. In addition, the area around Knysna is home of the only forest elephant in South Africa, the rare Pansy Shell, the brilliantly coloured and elusive Knysna Loerie as well as an abundance of waterfowl and forest birds, dolphins and visiting whales. Not forgetting their world-famous cultivated and wild oysters!
Knysna is primarily built on the northern shore of a large warm-water estuary which is fed by the Knysna River. The estuary opens to the ocean after passing between two large headlands. These are popularly known as “The Heads”, and have become infamous due to the loss of boats and fishermen passing through their treacherous and unpredictable waters. To the north of Knysna, temperate rainforest covers the hilly terrain for 20 km until changing to fynbos or macchia high up in the Outeniqua Mountains.
Besides the endless opportunity for leisure and outdoor adventure offered by the beaches, lakes, mountains and rivers, within the town craft shops, flea-markets and cosy cafés beckon with small-town charm and hospitality.
Knysna is a popular destination for tourists, both local and international, recently becoming a preferred destination among golfers thanks to world class golf courses including Pezula and Simola, also the well established Knysna Golf Course situated on the lagoon. Knysna is a favourite retreat for artists, restaurateurs and hippies as well!
Knysna boasts its own Waterfront with Marina and Yacht Club.
The nearest beach is at Brenton-On-Sea which lies directly west of The Heads and is continuous with Buffalo Bay, a popular surf spot.
- Knysna Heads.A visit to Knysna would be incomplete without a trip to the heads. This striking geological feature is made up of a pair of huge, brightly coloured cliffs lying at the mouth of the Lagoon, flanking a channel of potentially treacherous water that flows into the lagoon. The Eastern Head houses a lookout with spectacular views of the Lagoon, Leisure Isle and Knysna; the Western Head is a privately owned nature reserve Featherbed Nature Reserve.
- Featherbed Nature Reserve. A Natural Heritage site, accessible only by ferry. A day trip is highly recommended, catching the ferry across the lagoon, going on a drive or walk through the reserve followed by a picnic under milkwood trees, in the hopes of sighting the beautiful but elusive Knysna Loerie. Also home to the iconic blue duiker – one of the smallest and most endangered of the antelope species. The walk through the milkwood forests onto the sheer sandsone cliffs and into sea cave (known as ‘beachcomber caves’ that used to be the stamping ground of the Khoi Khoi) is one of the highlights. The number of visitors are restricted and visits are only allowed if you are with one of the reserve’s guides.
- The Knysna Elephant Park. A 75 hectare reserve where you are guaranteed an opportunity to touch the elephants that roam here, also feed them, walk with them through the forests and even enjoy an elephant back safari. All the elephants are former orphans rescued from culling operations in the Kruger National Park (except for Thandi who was born in the reserve).
- Thesen Island. A family friendly and orientated, multi-award winning marina development located in the scenic Knysna estuary. Spread over 90ha and consisting of 19 man-made islands linked by 21 arched bridges and surrounded by 25ha of tidal waterways. Within walking distance of the Waterfront, Yacht Harbour and town centre. A great place to stay, also wine&dine.
- Noetzie Beach, famous because of the castles surrounding it, making it look like a scene from the medieval times.
- Knysna Waterfront Home to the harbour and most of Knysna’s nightlife, with several bars, restaurants and clubs where patrons can enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset over the heads.
- Annual Events include:
1) The Knysna Oyster Festival held in July, attracting large numbers of visitors from far afield. An outdoor and leisure adventure. Sportsmen and gourmets, culture-hunters and party people gather for great all-round family entertainment.
2) The Knysna Forest Marathon & Cycle Races, held within the week of the Oyster Festival.
3) The Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, normally end of April/beginning of May.
4) Gastronomica is a lifestyle festival, held in September, that promotes healthy eating and organic principles.
5) The Rastafarian Earth Festival which is held at the end of July and celebrates their religion, culture and lifestyle.
The area offers beautiful unspoiled surroundings, wild pristine sand beaches, world class golf courses, hiking trails in the indigenous forest, coastal trails, nature reserves, mountain biking, water sports, boat trips, canoe tours, wildlife parks and much more.
For thrillseekers, options abound, with everything from paragliding over the coastline, abseiling and skydiving, to scuba diving and tree top canopy tours within easy reach of the town.
- A day trip to Featherbed Nature Reserve.
- Visit to Knysna Heads for some great photo opportunities.
- Hire a fully equipped self-catering houseboat and let time float by whilst you spend your holiday gently cruising along the Lagoon. A favorite among families!
- A round of Golf at Pezula, Simola or Knysna Golf Course.
- Lunch on Thesen Island, with a visit to the interesting and chic Turbine Hotel & Spa.
- A trip to Noetzie Beach and others. There is no beach in Knysna itself, but the coast surrounding Knysna has some really stunning places to visit for the day. These include Brenton-on-Sea, Buffalo Bay, Bollard Bay on Leisure Isle, and the famous Noetzie.
- Lunch on John Benn, a double-decker floating restaurant offering daily Lagoon cruises to the Knysna Heads. A memorable family activity on Knysna Lagoon and one of the best floating restaurants in Knysna!
- Dine aboard the Paddle Cruiser, the only paddle-driven vessel in South Africa. Enjoy a completely unique Knysna Lagoon experience. Decide between a lunch time (12h30 departure) or evening (18h15 departure) cruise.
- A day or sunset Yacht Sailing Charter. A sailing experience like no other – set sail through one of the most notoriously difficult sea passages in the world, the Knysna Heads. Enjoy a lagoon cruise before proceeding with caution through the Heads, sailing on towards Buffalo Bay. Upon return, anchor down for a few delicious treats and even a swim.
- Enjoy whale and dolphin watching. The Knysna coastline is home to one of the highest diversity of marine mammals in the world. During certain times of the year, sightings of the following can be had: Southern Right Whale, Humpback Whale, Bryde’s Whale, Bottlenose Dolphin, Common dolphin, Humpback dolphin.
- Animal Sanctuaries in the nearby vicinity, including the Wolf Sanctuary and Elephant Sanctuary, both located on the N2 heading out of town, towards Plettenberg Bay.
- Walks in & Horse Rides through the Knysna Forest.
- Cycling and Mountain Biking – Knysna offers cyclists some great and varied bike trails!
- Canoeing on the Knysna lagoon, Knysna River or Goukamma River.
- Abseiling the cliffs at the Heads or through a waterfall in the Harkerville forest. Awesome scenery!
- Scuba Diving along the Knysna coastline is a great experience. You will see many colours and coral reefs, Nudibranchs, sea spiders, toothed decorator crabs, sharks and more. Reef dives, shore dives and wreck dives are offered by local companies.
- Fishing. Fly-fishing, rock and surf fishing, deepsea fishing, bass and trout fishing. The most common fish caught in the area are steenbras, grunter and leervis.
- Beer tasting and tours at Mitchells Brewery.
- Local Township Tours and visits to the Orphanage, a rewarding experience for all!
Getting There (approximate figures)
By air, George Airport is an easy 65km drive; Port Elizabeth Airport is 280km.
Click here for all listed accommodation in Knysna and the nearby vicinity.