Environment

The unspoilt West Coast environment is a haven for the nature lover.
You'll be surprised to learn that Southern Right (Balaena glacialis) and the Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) can be seen almost all year round at St. Helena Bay.
The rare Heaviside dolphin (Cephalorihnchus heavisidii) has also been spotted, as well as Dusky dolphins (Lagenorhynchus obscurus) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphis)are regular visitors.

Sea temperatures are about 5ºC in winter and 15ºC during summer months.
The West Coast is a winter rainfall area with an average day temperature of 24,6ºC.
Hardy vegetation such as succulents and fynbos are fed by cool ocean mists.
During spring time - August and September - the West Coast is covered in a mass of wild flowers.

The West Coast has several Nature Reserves. One is Rocherpan, 25km north of Velddrif.
With its combination of land, vlei and marine environments it is a perfect habitat for water birds, among which endangered black oystercatchers, kelp gulls, Cape shovellers, pelicans and flamingos.
A checklist of the 183 species recorded at Rocherpan is available at the interpretation centre

From June to September southern right whales can be seen from anywhere along the beach.

At the Columbine nature reserve about 4km from Paternoster, near the Tietiesbaai holiday resort, there are a wide variety of birds like seagulls, cormorants, sacred ibis and strandlopers.
Whales and dolphins are regular visitors.
The vegetation is a mixture between coastal fynbos and Karoo succulents.

About 50km from Cape St Martin is the West Coast National Park, with the Langebaan lagoon as its core.
This park is of international importance as it is the end point of wading bird's migration routes from the Arctic.
Birds that can be seen here include the black-shouldered kite, the Cape francolin, the African black oystercatcher, the white-fronted plover and the kelp gull.

At the West Coast Fossil Park you can learn more about ancient environments, the animal life and the climatic changes that occurred in this region over 5 million years. It is a 14 ha fossil rich area on the R45 towards Hopefield. Guided tours are available daily.