Johannes Cornelius Wessels in 1881 built the first house of clay and reeds and started exploiting the large fish supply. More small fishermen houses were erected next to the sea and they circled the bay. In those years, Gansbaai was never developed and only many years later was the area surveyed and the town developed up the steep hill and given a better existence.
Today the town boasts a modern harbour with a slipway, fishmeal and canning factory, churches, three primary schools, modern shops, many accommodation facilities, restaurants, banking institutions, etc.
Gansbaai nestles at the foot of the Duynefontein Mountains with a unique landscape and view. The sea, land, the aroma of the flower bushes where the earth lays over the dune land – gives to the tourist everything in one packet. Walks on the mountain among the Fynbos are magic and spectacular.
A walk in the harbour at sunset with the nostalgic shouts of seagulls and slow movement of the fishing trawlers on the horizon is a soothing cure after a year of stress.
There are lots of small restaurants, coffee shops and pubs in town as well as in more scenic spots overlooking the harbour for example.
De Kelders is a sprawling out coastal town that stretches from Perlemoenbaai to the well known “Plaat” a sought after fishing spot where thousands of silver-gray fighters are caught annually for the coals.
Gansbaai is renowned for good fishing, fine boat-based and land based whale watching, but over recent years it has really established itself as the great white shark capital of the world. Gansbaai is one of the few places left in the world where one can still shark cage dive with these magnificent creatures. About four nautical miles from the Kleinbaai harbour, you’ll find the pristine Dyer Island, primarily a bird sanctuary with penguins, cormorants and many other marine birds. Next to Dyer Island lies Geyser Island / Rock that hosts a colony of more than 30 000 Cape fur seals. Between these islands lies ‘Shark Alley’, where the mysterious and graceful Great White Sharks have drawn visitors from across the globe.
In 1990, South Africa was the first country in the world to protect the great white shark.
Named after a colony of Egyptian geese, Gansbaai is situated on a traditional Fishing Harbour that attracts shore and boat anglers throughout the year. The cove that once provided a safe landing spot for the small fishing vessels of yesteryear was deepened, adequate moorings were built and today Gansbaai boasts two modern harbours.
Gansbaai also known as the ‘coast of contrasts’, the remains of old shipwrecks, having sailed their last along this treacherous stretch of coast, have found their way to rest along this coast. It was off the point, today known as Danger Point, where the British troopship Birkenhead came to grief in 1852, with the loss of 445 lives, most of them soldiers. Heroes to a man, they stood rigid attention to the tilting decks as the civilian passengers were ferried to safety. Some of the survivors settled in the area to merge comfortably into the local farming community. Their descendants, though they bear English surnames, are almost exclusively Afrikaans-speaking.
Hike through magnificent fynbos and milkwood forests or explore the caves where archaeological digs have been made, go shark cage diving or just relax at a harbour restaurant while enjoying magnificent seafood. Gansbaai has much to offer for those seeking adventure with a touch of class.
Visit Danger Point lighthouse. The remains of old wrecks, having sailed along this treacherous stretch of coast, have found their way to rest along this coast, including the legendary HMS Birkenhead which sank at Danger Point on the fateful night on the 26th February 1852. The Danger Point lighthouse was commissioned and building started on the 14th April 1894.
Explore the Klipgat Caves where excavations revealed archaeological deposits left by Middle Stone Age people about 85 million years ago and by the Khoisan (Later Stone Age).
Gansbaai has numerous restaurants, grills and coffee shops. The specialty of most is seafood and old fashioned home cooking. The Afrikaners would phrase it as ‘boerekos’.
Gansbaai is less than an hour’s drive from Cape L’Aghulhas, the southern most tip of Africa. En route is Elim, an original Moravian Mission station.
White Shark cage diving and shark viewing trips is a very popular Gansbaai attraction to visitors from across the globe. There are nine white shark viewing / diving operations active in the Gansbaai area. Some operators have a specialist crew for photography and film work, while others offer an opportunity for total adventure.
Whale Watching can be observed from De Kelders to Pearly Beach between June and November every year when they come to Walker Bay to calve. Gansbaai offers some of the best boat-based and land based whale watching in the world.