A visual pilgrimage

Doringbaai, West Coast
Despite its dramatic beauty, Doringbaai isn’t on the typical tourist radar. It should be.

Adding to this hamlet’s view-junkie appeal are impressive rock formations towering above the windswept coastline’s notoriously rough seas, wind-gnawed buildings sitting cosily in the harbour and the rugged Hardeveld backdrop. This is the bay where Southern Right whales enter every year to calve between July and November. And a little-known fact is that alluvial diamonds are vacuumed from the seabed here.

Situated along the West Coast, about 330 km from Table View with a population of 1 300, it was originally called Thornbay and used as an anchorage for the trade route to Vanrhynsdorp by camel trains. Doringbaai was first settled in 1925 when the North Bay Canning Company instructed Dutchman Koos Bleeker to establish a crayfish packing factory on the West Coast. When he arrived he found nothing more than an abandoned wooden shack, but there was no shortage of crayfish. Sadly, the factory closed in the 1970s and has since been converted into a business hub which includes a restaurant, winery with wine tasting facilities and an abalone farm.

The landmark lighthouse was only built in 1963 as an aluminium structure. However, gale-force storms destroyed it in 1991 and it was rebuilt as a concrete tower. Relentless and unforgiving wave and wind action also toppled parts of the old jetty, giving the harbour a surreal ancient Grecian feel.

At Doringbaai you can truly get off the grid. Time slows to a crawl. The sea and sky become your only daily barometers while soaking up the solitude exploring the nooks and crannies of this magical place.