Knysna, a very popular holiday destination, is a small town with distinctive old-world charm. It also grew from the timber trade and was founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century by George Rex, reputed to be the son of the British King, George III, from his secret marriage to Hannah Lightfoot. Knysna lies among the wooded hills and encircles the large Knysna Lagoon and is the perfect base from where to explore the wonders of the area.
Adventure And Sport
Adventure: One needs never sit still when in Knysna. Horse-riding, abseiling, paragliding, canoeing, diving, great white shark-diving and fishing are all on the adventure menu.
Cape St Blaize Cave Hiking Trail: The cave is the starting point of a hiking trail that winds its way through a vast area of great natural beauty and diversity.
Forest Walks: The Knysna Forests are a wonderland where one can lose oneself among the trees and the sounds of nature. The different walks also have several picnic spots and bikers can also travel through the forests.
Knysna Yachts: The Knysna Yachting Club is situated at the Knysna Harbour and there are always yachts traversing the lagoon and sailing past the beautiful, but dangerous, Knysna Heads.
Water-sport: The areas of the Knysna Lagoon that are zoned for nature reserves allow little disturbance of the natural habitat. Power-boating, water-skiing and sailing are, however, allowed in certain spots. Many types of pleasure craft, such as cabin cruisers, sailboards and paddle-skis are for hire. Live-aboard cruisers can even be rented for meandering around the lagoon for days on end. Deep-sea fishing trips are also available.
Art And Crafts
Art and craft shops and markets: Many talented artists and crafters live and work in Knysna and sell their art at Knysna’s street markets and in the many shops around town. Items made from the indigenous woods of the area are internationally renowned.
Knysna Arts Festival: This popular festival takes place over ten days in late September/early October. The festival showcases a collection of visual and performing arts.
Painting Holiday: For those who fancy themselves to be artists in the making, a Knysna painting holiday with the Elliott family is the ideal solution. The couple offers various painting courses.
Knysna Oyster Company: The Oyster Company was established in 1949 and is situated on Thesen Island. Oysters from the Knysna Lagoon, a long-time traditional delicacy of the region, are cultivated and sold here.
Culture / Community Tourism
Judah Square: The square offers the ideal way to experience the Rastafarian culture. Knysna has the largest Rastafarian community in the country and the community invites visitors to the square to experience and learn more about the religion and its way of life.
Knysna Township Trail: The trail allows visitors to experience the old townships of the area and meet the local people. A visit to Mary, an old storyteller, is an occasion not to be missed.
Entertainment And Shopping
Pleasure Boat: There are several boating opportunities on the Knysna Lagoon. Visitors can take a cruise on a boat to The Heads and enjoy a light meal whilst drifting past one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the area.
Knysna Waterfront: Dine on fresh oysters and tour the brewery or browse around Knysna’s waterfront.
Fauna And Flora
Bird life: More than 280 species of birds have been recorded on Thesen Island, in Steenbok Park and on the Groenvlei and Swartvlei Lakes.
Featherbed Nature Reserve: A good base for water-sports and walks, the Featherbed Nature Reserve lies on the unspoilt western head of the Lagoon and can only be reached by ferry. The reserve is a Natural Heritage Site and is home to two of Knysna’s icons, the Knysna Loerie and the Blue Duiker. Bird-watching is extremely popular in the area, as the varied and contrasting types of habitat found around the lagoon attract many different species of birds.
Knysna Lagoon: The lagoon is a protected marine reserve and is the breeding ground of the renowned Knysna oyster, as well as of the threatened Knysna sea horse.
Rare species: Knysna is the home of the forest elephant, which has been nearly hunted to extinction. Only a few of these giants are left and they are rarely seen. Knysna is also well known for its sea horse and its unique pansy shell.
Whales: The southern right whale is a welcome and frequent visitor to the Knysna shores. One never tires of watching them make their graceful progress through the surf and do the occasional high dive.
History And Architecture
Millwood House: When gold was discovered in the Knysna Forest in 1876, prospectors flocked here from all over the world. Millwood House, originally erected in the gold-rush town of Millwood, was dismantled and re-erected in Knysna after the gold rush ended. It is now a fascinating museum depicting the early days of Knysna.
Knysna Lagoon: Two distinctive sandstone cliffs called The Heads mark the spot where the Knysna Lagoon meets the sea. These huge, brightly coloured cliffs are considered to be one of the most striking geological features along the South African coast. The view from the top of The Heads, over the lagoon and with Knysna town in the background, is spectacular. Footpaths on The Heads lead to secluded caves and an encounter with the turbulent waves.
Noetzie Beach: The drive to secluded Noetzie Beach guarantees some beautiful views. Once there, visitors will need to navigate a steep path down to the isolated beach and lagoon. The amazing scenery is enhanced by five private castle-like homes built on the beach.