Paradise found

Chuchhaven, West Coast, South Africa

Barely a blip on anyone’s radar, Churchhaven is heaven on earth.

No WiFi, limited cellphone accessibility, solar power and romantic candle light rule supreme in one of the most idyllic beach villages in the world – a mere speck on the Langebaan lagoon that doesn’t even make it onto the average map.

Hidden away in the West Coast National Park, just outside Postberg Flower Reserve, restored white-washed fishermen’s houses dot the Churchhaven landscape, hugged by the 17-km long blue lagoon – one of only three in the world fed by the sea and not a river. In fact, Langebaan lagoon is acknowledged as one of the most biologically productive in the world with a wealth of bird and aquatic life.

Named after the old church at Stofbergsfontein, Churchhaven was founded in 1863 by one George Albert Lloyd, a deserter from the Confederate ship Alabama. For centuries the area had been inhabited by descendants of the Khoisan and Dutch settlers. So the arrival of Lloyd added yet another strand to the complex weave of culture and race. Today, almost all the cottages are owned by descendants of the original inhabitants.

Ever so slightly rough around the edges, the hamlet’s pace of life is somnolent and its scenery will keep shutterbugs very busy.