The Saldanha Experience: Shuck, Savour & Sip the Finest Hand-Picked West Coast Encounters in Saldanha

Get ready to have your preconceived notions of Saldanha shattered on this epic two-day adventure into the secret foodie nooks and artisanal crannies of this underrated harbour town on South Africa’s West Coast. Situated a mere 150 km north of Cape Town, this undiscovered gem is bursting at the seams with fresh new faces, lots […]

Get ready to have your preconceived notions of Saldanha shattered on this epic two-day adventure into the secret foodie nooks and artisanal crannies of this underrated harbour town on South Africa’s West Coast. Situated a mere 150 km north of Cape Town, this undiscovered gem is bursting at the seams with fresh new faces, lots of delicious seafood, cool things to experience and unexpected places to explore. You will definitely want to get on board with this one!

Highlights

  • Three-course dinner experience with Luke Wonnacott of Table Seven-fame
  • Gorgeous seaside accommodation at Blue Bay Lodge
  • Hearty breakfast at the lodge
  • Boat trip exploration of the Saldanha oyster farms
  • All-you-can-eat mussel & oyster feast in a pop-up location in a working oyster factory

Duration

2 days, 1 night

Guests are welcome to extend their stay on the Saturday (subject to availability)

Schedule

Friday 27 July – Saturday 28 July

Price

R2430 p.p. sharing
R2900 p.p. single


(It is possible to extend your stay for another night until Sunday as an optional extra – follow the book now button for details)

Overview

The Saldana Experience is the epic new venture and brainchild of three passionate West Coast locals who want to promote the town of Saldanha to foodies, travellers and adventure seekers who like to venture off the beaten track. It’s about time too, because, let’s be honest – when you read ‘Saldanha’, you immediately thought ‘industrial harbour’ instead of ‘picturesque seaside destination’, right?

Don’t feel bad – the town’s reputation as an industrial hotspot has been hard-won; it’s one of the most prolific ports in the country, and if hadn’t been for the lack of readily available fresh water when the VOC first sent out their envoys in the 1600s, what is now known as the trendy city of Cape Town may well have developed around this incredibly safe, deep and accessible natural harbour. No kidding. It also happens to be the point of origin of 100% of the mussels and 90% of the oysters you’ll eat anywhere in sunny South Africa. We’ll just let that sink in for a minute there.

Exciting right? Mart-Mari Wicht and Kyle Dods think so too. Mart-Mari is a lifelong local who grew up as part of the third generation to own and operate the unexpectedly awesome Blue Bay Lodge, while Kyle is a more recent import who made his way to Saldanha after falling for both Mart-Mari and her delightful town of origin. The pair, together with Luke Wonnacott (owner of Table Seven culinary consultancy and the celebrated chef who commandeered the kitchen of a sleek Dubai eatery that claimed the best seafood restaurant title for three years running and worked at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant, Maze), are now ready to show visitors their Saldanha.

“A person’s first impression of Saldanha is always going to be that it’s a bit industrial, but that’s the nature of the town and the industries that provide a livelihood for the people of this region,” says Kyle. “However, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. Take the time to look past the factories and you will find long, unspoiled beaches, calm waters that deepen steadily from turquoise to midnight blue, and an undulating carpet of twinkling lights that scatter over the harbour as evening descends and the fishing vessels greet night with portholes ablaze.”

“It’s also about supporting the local artisans,” adds Mart-Mari. “The baker, butcher and coffee shop owner who chooses to base a business in their home town rather than making their way to the city, where the odds of success are far better. Life in Saldanha is without artifice or pretence, and we want to give these small business owners some exposure to the trade that passes us by in favour of heading to more well-known West Coast destinations like Langebaan or Paternoster.”

So they created The Saldanha Experience, a series of curated weekends that will take visitors to the tastiest and most interesting parts of the town. The first experience takes place on 27 & 28 July and invites visitors to explore the mussel and oyster industries that underpin Saldanha’s seafood offering.

This includes a three-course dinner and wine pairing with Luke & Katie Wonnacott on Friday evening, accommodation and breakfast at the beautiful Blue Bay Lodge, as well as a boat-based tour of Saldanha Bay’s oyster beds and mussel rafts at the hand of local seafood grower Kevin Ruck (with a glass of MCC in hand, no less). To top it all off, lunch will be served long-table style in King Solomon’s Factory – a real, honest-to-goodness working oyster packing facility that is literally built over the water with thick column rising out of the harbour. Expect all-you-can-eat mussels and oysters in all shapes, forms and finger-licking guises. After all this, you can either make your way home or choose to stay another night to soak up some more West Coast awesomeness.

Sound good? Book now! Tickets for the inaugural Saldanha experience are limited and once the foodie grapevine gets hold of this one it’s going to sell out quick-sticks.

What’s included

  • Friday night accommodation
  • Friday night dinner + selected wine pairing
  • Saturday breakfast
  • Saturday boat tour to the oyster farm (including a glass of MCC and oyster tasters)
  • Saturday all-you-can-eat mussel & oyster feast in a pop-up location in a working oyster factory + selected wine pairing and beer tasting

What’s not included

  • Other beverages for the Friday evening
  • Transport to and from the hotel to join the Saturday oyster tour
  • Transport to and from hotel to join the pop-up feast at the oyster factory
  • Saturday evening’s accommodation (optional extra, dependent on availability)

Important Information

  • This excursion is best suited to people who genuinely adore oysters and mussels.
  • There will be no vegan or vegetarian options.
  • Participants must be over 16 years of age (NO alcohol will be served to under 18s).
  • Although the bay is very flat, the boat-based tour is subject to weather conditions. It if is cancelled due to inclement weather, the outing will be replaced by a tour of the oyster factory instead.
  • There is a possibility of cancellation if the minimum number of 15 guests is not reached. In this unlikely event you will receive a full refund.

Itinerary 

Friday, 27 July

  • 14h00: Check in at your pre-booked accommodation at Blue Bay Lodge.
  • 19h30: Enjoy a delectable three-course dinner + wine pairing with Luke & Katie Wonnacott

Saturday, 28 July

  • 08h00-10h00: Breakfast at the Blue Bay lodge.
  • Mid-morning: Join Blue Sapphire oyster grower guru Kevin Ruck on a boat-based exploration of the Saldanha bay oyster beds and mussel rafts to learn how it is grown and harvested.
  • Afternoon: Join Chef Kyle Dods for a pop-up, long-table, all-you-can-eat mussel and oyster feast in the rustic King Solomon’s Factory overlooking the harbour.
  • 17h00: Make your way home or stay another night to enjoy further Saldanha hospitality (accommodation subject to availability).

 

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Writing Anna-Bet Stemmet

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