|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2008)|
|• Total||39.7 km2 (15.3 sq mi)|
|• Density||800/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||60.3%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||6600|
Plettenberg Bay, nicknamed Plet or Plett, is the primary town of the Bitou Local Municipality in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. As of the census of 2001, there were 29,149 population. It was originally named Bahia Formosa (beautiful bay) by early Portuguese explorers and lies on South Africa's Garden Route 210 km from Port Elizabeth and about 600 km from Cape Town.
Middle and Later Stone Age
Nelson Bay Cave and Matjies River Cave at nearby Keurboomstrand were inhabited for over 100,000 years by Middle Stone Age man and then later by ancestors of the Khoisan, who were possibly the same people who traded with the Portuguese survivors of the San Gonzales shipwreck. Their tools, ornaments and food debris can be viewed in these caves, which are still being excavated.
Long before Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape, Portuguese explorers charted the bay in the 15th and 16th centuries, the first being Bartholomew Dias in 1487. Ninety years later Manuel da Perestrello aptly called it Bahia Formosa or the Beautiful Bay. The first European inhabitants were 100 Portuguese sailors marooned here for 9 months when the San Gonzales sank in the bay in 1630. The survivors built two small boats which they used to link with a passing vessel. A stone that they left behind on Beacon Island, known as the Van Plettenberg Stone, is now in the Cape Town museum. In 1763, the first European settlers in the Bay were stock farmers, hunters and frontiersmen from the Western Cape.
A stinkwood navigational beacon was first erected on Beacon Island in 1771. The original was a square block of stinkwood, inscribed with the latitude and longitude of Plettenberg Bay and erected to enable mariners to check their location. It was replaced by a stone one by Captain Sewell in 1881.
The bay housed a barracks for the Dutch East India Company in 1776. The Governor of the Cape, Baron Joachim van Plettenberg, renamed the town Plettenberg Bay in 1779. In 1869 it was bought by St Peters Church and used as a rectory for the next 70 years. Today it is presently privately owned.
A whaling station was built on Beacon Island in 1910, but was closed down in 1916. Parts of the iron slipway are still visible today.
A hotel called The Beacon Isle Southern Sun Hotel now stands where the whaling station used to.
The Robberg Peninsula is home to a large Cape fur seal colony, seals can often be seen in the surf off Robberg Beach. Local vegetation varies from Cape Fynbos to Knysna-Amatole montane forests further inland. Southern Right whales are a common sight in the bay during their breeding season from July to December. Bryde's whales frequent the bay throughout the year being the most sighted during the summer months. Humpback whales migrate past during July and December. Killer whales (Orca) and Sei whales are occasionally sighted. Whales can be viewed from various viewpoints in the town as well as from Robberg Peninsula. Plettenberg Bay also boasts 3 species of dolphins which visit the bay throughout the year, these being the Bottlenosed dolphin, the Common dolphin and the endangered Humpback dolphin.
There are many pelagic birds in the area as well as the endangered Oyster catcher which live along the shores. A distinctive flower-shaped sea shell called a pansy shell is endemic to this part of the coast, and is used as the symbol representing the town. Looking for these shells on the beach is a popular activity amongst visitors and locals alike. Robberg Peninsula is maintained as a nature reserve, allowing visitors to see many of the area's local plants and animals.
Climate and geography
Plettenberg Bay is typified by an extremely mild maritime temperate climate with very few rainfall or temperature extremes. It is located within the Knysna Afromontane Forest biome, containing temperate gallery forest, supported by the mild temperatures and high, even distributed rainfall. Here follows the records for the closest climate station just to the east in the Tsitsikamma:
- Maximum/minimum temperatures: January: 23 °C/17 °C; July: 17 °C/10 °C; rainfall: 945 mm per annum.
The bay is defined on the southern end by Cape Seal at the terminus of the Robberg (Afrikaans for Seal Mountain) Peninsula, separating the bay from the open Indian Ocean. It is one of the southern cape coast's typical "J-shaped" bays, which is formed by wave action eroding the shales of the Bokkeveld Group between the weather-resistant headlands composed of the Table Mountain Group, both of the Cape Supergroup geological sequence of rocks. To the north, the Tsitsikamma and Langkloof Mountains keeps the moisture on the southern slopes of the mountains and prevent the temperature extremes of the interior reaching the bay.
Edmund Roberts noted that the bay had a large abundance of cattle and sheep. He also recognized "the excellence of its butter" and a timber industry.
Attractions and amenities
- Sum of the Main Places Bossiesgerf, New Horizons, Kwanokuthula and Plettenberg Bay from Census 2011.
- Bekker, Leon (2007-03-09). "Integration make-over for Plet". Fin24. Retrieved 2008-02-26. "Not everybody in Plet is satisfied with the project, however. [...] "They feel crowded by the development and believe some parts of the Eastern Cape are still like the Plet they knew," he said."
- Jacana Education (2006). Garden Route Guide. Jacana Maps. ISBN 1-77009-146-7. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
- Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. pp. 388–389.
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