Like most other West Coast towns, Elands Bay originated as a fishing village, and gradually developed to the north of the harbour. Overlooked by the Bobbejaansberg to the south, and with white sand dunes forming an impressive backdrop to the east, Elands Bay is a pretty village which depends largely on the crayfish (or rock lobster) industry for its economic well-being.
The long stretch of beach, with its fast and powerful left-breaking waves, ranks among the best surfing spots in the country. An abundance of seafood and its spring flowers 5 are other attraction for visitors who flock to this resort.
With a length of about 13,5 km and a width of 1,4 km, Verlorenvlei is one of the largest natural wetlands along the West Coast and one of the few coastal freshwater lakes in South Africa. Although connected to the sea via a narrow channel, the vlei only overflows into the sea during the rainy winter months. Extensive reedbeds fringe the vlei, which has a bird list of over 189 species. Among these are white pelican, greater and lesser flamingo, a variety of duck species and marsh harrier.
The name Verlorenvlei is derived from Verloren Valleij (‘lost valley’), the name of the farm granted to a Dutch settler in 1723. One possible explanation for the name is that it refers to the farm’s isolated location. Another possibility is that it refers to the way in which the water loses itself among the reeds.
...situated at the head of the Verlorenvlei, was founded in 1866 and named after JN Redelinghuys, who donated part of his farm, Wittedrift, to the Dutch Reformed Church. A condition of the land grant was that no liquor was to be sold. The little village was established here in 1906.
The formidable barrier presented by the Olifants River Mountains, originally known as the Groote Clooff (Large Kloof), was first crossed on 7 December 1660 by a Dutch soldier, Jan Danckaert. In 1675, a band of Khoikhoi raiders escaped across the mountains because the pursuing commandos were weighed down by their heavy pikes. Following a report to the Council of Policy in 1739, a military post was set up to defend Swartland farmers against Khoisan attacks and the name Piekenierskloof (piekenier means a guard armed with a pike) became established. It was not until 1857 that Thomas Bain began building a road through the pass. Completed the following year, it was named Grey’s Pass, after the British Governor, Sir George Grey. When the new pass was built higher up the mountain slopes, it was given its original name.