About Paternoster, South Africa
Paternoster is one of the oldest fishing villages on the West Coast of South Africa. It lies about 145 Km from Cape Town and 15 km northwest of Vredenburg.
Many believe ‘Paternoster’ derives its name from the prayers of ship-wrecked Portuguese sailors whose prayers were known as “Our Father”, while others believe the term refers to the beads of the Koi tribe.
This historical fishing village is well-known for its west coast rock lobster and white-washed fisherman’s cottages. Unfortunately, the lobster is on the verge of extinction in this part of South Africa, and severe measures had to be put in place by The Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SASSI) to curb overfishing and exploitation of the red-listed species. This included, amongst other things, reducing the total allowable catch per day, issuing long-term fishing rights, putting measures in place to ensure lobsters could be traced to the source to curtail poaching, and shortening the harvesting season. It is, however, still no strange phenomenon to see hawkers with illegally harvested lobster (or kreef, as people in the area refer to it in their native language, Afrikaans) trading openly on every street corner. The levels of poaching in Paternoster have been described as “epidemic” (Van As, 2020).
Sadly, this once predominantly fishing village is under severe economic pressure due to traditional rural livelihoods diminishing due to “natural resource decline, climate pressure and also modernisation” (Kimbu et al., 2022, p. 25). The villagers now depend more on tourism as a pathway for livelihood diversification to increase the number of income-generating activities to alleviate poverty in their communities.
According to Kimbu et al. (2022), the global decline in fisheries-related employment communities has forced many coastal villages, such as Paternoster, to diversify into the hospitality and tourism sector. The study’s findings by Kimbu pointed to the fact that many fishermen are reluctant to diversify, stressing that fishing “is a way of life responsible for identify formation that includes a sense of pride concerning their occupation identity” (p. 27).
Culinary tourism was identified in the research study of Kimbu as a key diversification opportunity for Paternoster. It refers to “the experience of the ‘other’ through food-related activities, whereby cultural learning and knowledge transfer of the destination and its people are facilitated” (Ellis et al., 2018, p. 253).
Paternoster has reinvented itself as a culinary tourism destination with its current, primarily hospitality-dominated offerings. Several outstanding and award-winning restaurants (for example, Wolfgat, Gaatjie, Voorstrand, De See Kat), food outlets and coffee shops, holiday cottages and guest houses and hotels provide excellent accommodation.
It was interesting to learn from the locals that lobster was on all the hotels and restaurant menus a few years ago. Since the lobster harvesting restrictions were implemented, many have removed it from their menus (fortunately still available at Abalone Hotel). We were also surprised to learn that some restaurants even reported foreign customers being “furious” when they realised they could not savour this delicacy at a particular restaurant. Instead of spending a few days in Paternoster, they would rather venture towards Cape Town, where every bit of seafood on the market would be available to them.
In this review, Petra and I will share our experiences at Abalone Beach Villas in Paternoster, part of the Abalone Hotel. Unfortunately, we were only one day in Paternoster. We did not have enough time to explore the area as much as we would have liked to make valuable recommendations for you about things to do in the area. We will have to go back and revisit this quaint little fishing village.
Where is Abalone Beach Villas in Paternoster located?
Abalone Beach Villas has direct beach access within 200m of the villa. It is situated about 160km from Cape Town.
There are several little towns nearby, like Langebaan (39km), Veldrift (39km) and St Helena (20km), that make for enjoyable day trips.
Overview of the Abalone Beach Villa in Paternoster
We stayed in one of the two self-catering villas, a mere five minutes walk from the Abalone Hotel. Our villa was stylish yet unpretentious, which beautifully complemented the traditional west-coast style of simplicity.
The villa opens with large glass sliding doors onto the pool deck with a private rim-flow pool and two well-appointed rooms, each with double beds and en-suite bathrooms. The villa provides a homely and relaxed holiday atmosphere ideal for families wanting to rent the unit together. Our unit had a separate lock-up garage and guest toilet at the entrance.
Who would enjoy this villa in Paternoster?
The villa is ideal for families or friends who enjoy holidaying together. Both bedrooms open with glass doors onto the pool deck and entertainment area. The main bedroom (closest to the ocean) has a lovely private patio facing the sea. This is the perfect spot to enjoy your morning coffee. The main bedroom has a bath, shower, and double vanity (with lovely fluffy white towels). It also had a well-stocked coffee station with a capsule coffee machine. The second bedroom’s en-suite bathroom had a single vanity and shower. Both rooms had a dressing table and clothing cupboard. Our bathrooms were stocked with Charlotte-Rees amenities, a great addition to a self-catering villa. Moreover, the villa’s kitchen is every holiday chef’s dream, with high-quality cutlery, crockery, and a lovely traditional family dining table.
The villa had excellent Wi-Fi connection and ample International and USB PowerPoints in all the rooms.
The Facilities of Abalone villas in Paternoster
As explained previously, the villa has a fully functional kitchen with everything your heart desires to cook up a storm. The open-plan lounge area has magnificent views over the pool and ocean. There were two extremely comfortable pool loungers and a built-in exterior braai (barbeque/grill) for those lovely summer evening pool parties. In addition, there was a dishwasher, Smart TV (with Netflix), landline telephone, fireplace (with wood), air conditioners in all rooms, microwave, safe, linen and towels, iPod docking station, oven, and fridge.
What we most enjoyed about the villa
We loved waking up in paradise to the most beautiful sunrise and watching the fishing boats go out to sea for their daily catch.
We could imagine staying in the magnificent rim-flow pool all day during those sweltering summer nights and having a braai beside the pool.
All aspects of the villa were well-maintained and in excellent working condition.
The staff of Abalone Beach Villas in Paternoster
You need to report the Abalone hotel to check in to the villas. Upon our arrival we were greeted by a friendly receptionist who handed our keys and gave us directions to the villa. Sadly, there was no one to greet or welcome us upon our arrival at the villa. Therefore, Petra and I had to carry our luggage into the villa (which we are very much used to travelling through Europe alone) and figure out by ourselves how most of the things work in the villa. Consequently, there was loadshedding during the night and an alarm woke us up which we had no idea how to deactivate.
Dining options at Abalone Beach Villas in Paternoster
Besides the Abalone hotel (just down the road) that offers breakfast and dinner, several excellent restaurants are within walking distance of the villa.
Gaatjie restaurant is right opposite the villa on the beachfront.
Our verdict of Abalone Beach Villas
The review is intended to assist you in planning a trip to Paternoster, particularly to the Abalone Beach villas.
We enjoyed this self-catering villa, although we did not use any facilities for only one day in Paternoster.
We loved our beautiful bedroom with picturesque views over Paternoster’s small ‘harbour’. Our bed was super comfortable with warm bedding. We can easily imagine spending a week at this fantastic villa with our families and making unforgettable memories in this remote fishing village.
- The rim-flow pool overlooking the ocean and harbour
- The built-in braai area next to the pool
- Excellent location, within walking distance of Gaatjie restaurants and the Abalone hotel
- The kitchen with everything you need to prepare unforgettable meals
- St Helena, 20km
- Langebaan, 39km
- Veldrift, 39km
Value for money
Abalone Beach villa costs around R3400 per night and can accommodate four people (Winter rates). Breakfast can be enjoyed at the Abalone Hotel at an additional R175 or 10.60 Euro per person. However, during the high season and the summer months, these prices can almost double.
Paternoster gets busy in season (December to January and the end of March to the beginning of April).
Book your stay outside the South African school holidays and avoid Easter and the period between Christmas and New Year’s.
Ellis, A., E., P., Kim, S., & Yeoman, I. (2018). What is food tourism? Tourism Management, 68, 250–260.
Kimbu, A. N., Booysen, I., & Winchenbach, A. (2022). Livelihood diversification through tourism: Identity, well-being, and potential in rural coatsal communities. Tourism Review International, 26, 25–40.
Van As, H. (2020). Poaching of marine living resources: Can the tide be turned? South African Crime Quarterly, 69, 2–23. https://journals.assaf.org.za/index.php/sacq/article/view/8351