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At This Secluded Beachside Retreat in Cape Town, Dolphins and Whales Outnumber Guests

If the occasionally bone-rattling three-and-a-half-hour drive from Cape Town doesn’t leave you completely breathless, your first glimpse of Lekkerwater Beach—when you spy cottages clinging to a hillside cloaked in fragrant fynbos, with an endless sweep of ocean unfurling below—will take care of the rest.

This scenic swath of South Africa’s remote De Hoop Nature Reserve was favored by former president F. W. de Klerk as a weekend retreat. Today, it’s reborn as a seven-room seaside hideaway by safari outfitter Natural Selection.

In keeping with the breezy beach-house spirit, rooms are spare but sumptuous, and meals are communal and delicious—join fellow guests around a long oak table for a convivial braai (that’s South African for barbecue), eat a piping hot breakfast of eggs and sausages straight from a skillet, or graze on a selection of freshly made tarts and cakes at high tea every afternoon. But while the confines are indeed cushy, the focus at Lekkerwater, from every angle, is what lies beyond the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests are encouraged to spend as much time outside as possible, exploring the tide pools and hiking through the fynbos. The secluded setting and protected coastline mean guests are outnumbered by dolphins and whales; in fact, De Hoop claims some of the best land-based whale watching in the world. If you come during whale-watching season from June through November, it might feel a bit like you’re privileged enough to have scored an invite to a massive whale conclave.

Courtesy of Natural Selection

In this era of hyperbole, the lodge’s name is refreshingly unassuming: As you sit on the deck of your chalet, watching southern right whales breach and spout, it might strike you that Lekkerwater, or “nice water” in Afrikaans, is an epic understatement.

Check out more pictures of Lekkerwater Beach Lodge below:

Courtesy of Natural Selection

Courtesy of Natural Selection

Courtesy of Natural Selection

Courtesy of Natural Selection