The West Coast is best described as an enigma. On land and in the sea, the West Coast never ceases to surprise visitors and long-time inhabitants have found it best to adapt to the contradictions of the land and not to try to understand it. Well, it is said that “variety is the spice of life”, isn’t it?
Where the cold sea and the warm land meets, a barren desert-like landscape is created, which in spring (from late July to September), changes appearance completely, to emerge as a vivid carpet with more than 350 species of wild flowers. This phenomenon only lasts for a relatively short time, leaving the seeds to lie dormant again, waiting for next year’s winter rains to bring them to life.
Although the land is considered inhospitable and barren, the sea yields the most generous crops of seafood imaginable. Local children grow up on delicacies such as crayfish and oysters for which other people have to pay premium prices.
Eking out an existence on this coastline is no mean feat and has shaped the singular character of the people inhabiting the fishing villages on the coast. These villages are also fast becoming popular holiday destinations, sought out by city dwellers desperate to escape the routine and the mundane.
Deeper inland, the Cedarberg Conservation Area protects an unspoiled mountain area where embattled cedars cling stubbornly to the most remote spots. It is a prime hiking area and a large natural art gallery where the many San rock art sites can be found.
The Western Cape shares the West Coast with the Northern Cape Province. The largest stores of diamonds have been mined mainly in the Northern Cape at Alexander Bay. Most of the West Coast Region is undeveloped and one of its most important industrial developments
is the nuclear power station at Koeberg. This site, 30 km from Cape Town, was chosen for its firm rock-bed and easy access to sea-water.