Fishing mecca

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St Helena Bay, West Coast
Set against a dramatic backdrop of ancient granite hills and boulders, St Helena Bay is both historical and thriving as one of the world’s principal fishing centres.

Nicknamed Agterbaai, St Helena Bay has a lot going for it: miles of sand, frolicking dolphins throughout the year, excellent fishing, plus worthwhile day-trip potential.

The town is located on the shore of the bay from which it derives its name, surrounding Vredenburg and Paternoster. It was here that Vasco da Gama first set foot in South Africa in 1497 and he named it Bahai da Santa Elena, after the devout Christian mother of Roman emperor Constantine I. Today, there’s a monument on the actual arrival site.

Facing north-east and almost north, it’s the only area along the West Coast where the sun rises across the bay. Its 11 529 inhabitants live in 10 suburbs from east to west.

Fed by the nutrient-rich Benguela current, the waters teem with pelagic fish. Hence the need for 11 fish processing factories which process more than half of the fish in South Africa annually.

Along with schools of dusky and common dolphins, Heaviside’s dolphins are found in large numbers at any time of year – chasing fish along the shore or simply jumping for joy. This is also one of the most popular bays for Southern Right, Humpback and Killer whales to visit and calve from August to November.

With 18 delightful bays, St Helena has all the hallmarks of the West Coast – served with a blast of fresh salty air.