Exploring Where the Indian and Atlantic Meet at Cape Agulhas
Barely distinguishable from neighboring Struisbaai, the tiny town of L’Agulhas was named by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century and sprung up around the L’Agulhas lighthouse. Surrounded by nearly 9000 species of fynbos (indigenous flora), the town is nestled on the sea’s edge and offers visitors an unhurried, unique South African experience of sea, sky and wilderness.
Contrary to popular belief, the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet here at the southernmost point of Africa, not at Cape Point, which is closer to Cape Town. These dangerous waters around the tip of the continent have been the downfall of many a ship over the centuries, sparking rumours of ghosts in the area, and necessitating the building of the lighthouse in 1848. This is the second oldest working lighthouse in South Africa and visitors can climb the steep stairs to the top for spectacular views of the rough seas where the oceans meet, and then climb back down to enjoy a meal, and a glance at the lighthouse museum.
What to See and Do in Cape Agulhas
South of the lighthouse is an unobtrusive marker that shows the point where the Atlantic and Indian oceans blend. Beach combers will find countless rock pools to explore and plenty of shells to collect, including the paper-thin, delicate Nautilus shells that litter the area. There is also an abundance of birdlife, tortoises, and smaller mammals like mongooses and caracal to spot. Between June and November, the area offers ample opportunities to see calving Southern Right, Humpback and Bryde’s whales breach. There are also dolphins, porpoises and Cape Fur seals that inhabit the area.
East of the lighthouse, one can still see evidence of tidal fish traps made by the area’s original inhabitants thousands of years ago, constructed of layers of rock around natural pools. To the west of the lighthouse is the exposed wreck of a Taiwanese fishing vessel, now home to roosting cormorants and seagulls.
Nearby Struisbaai offers roughly 25km of uninterrupted, pristine beach, with warm Indian Ocean swimming and excellent walking and fishing opportunities. Some of the area’s original thatched fishermen’s cottages are close by and there are 4×4 beach safaris, nature reserves, hikes and horse rides to enjoy.
Where to Stay in Cape Agulhas
There are plenty of bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in the area, including the Agulhas Country Lodge which offers superb three course meals and incredible views. There are campsites in both L’Agulhas and Struisbaai (which get very full on long weekends and school holidays) and a backpacker’s lodge in Struisbaai. There are restaurants, shops and a gas station in both towns, so there is everything the traveller needs to enjoy a relaxed, out of the way stop where the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet at the tip of Africa.
For more information, see the Agulhas National Park website.