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Mossel Bay
—  Town  —
Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay is located in Western Cape
Mossel Bay
Coordinates: 34°11′00″S 22°08′00″E / 34.1833333°S 22.1333333°E / -34.1833333; 22.1333333Coordinates: 34°11′00″S 22°08′00″E / 34.1833333°S 22.1333333°E / -34.1833333; 22.1333333
Country South Africa South Africa
Province Western Cape
Metropolitan municipality Mossel Bay Local Municipality
Founder Paulus van Caerden
Named for Bay of Mussels
 - Total 150,000
Time zone South Africa Standard Time (UTC+2)

Mossel Bay (Afrikaans: Mosselbaai) is a town with 150 000 inhabitants in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It lies on the southern coast of South Africa, east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of Knysna on the Indian Ocean coast and is part of the Garden Route.

Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias arrived here on February 3, 1488, thus proving to his sponsors that Africa had a southern tip; making it theoretically possible to sail from Europe to India. Originally called by Dias Aguada de São Brás (Bay of Saint Blaise), the harbour and surrounding area was renamed Mosselbaai (Bay of Mussels) in 1601 by Dutch navigator Paulus van Caerden, as he found the bay to be abundant with mussels. He also called a nearby bay, where he found cattle herders, Vlees Bay (Bay of Meat). On January 28, 1846 the British refounded the town as Aliwal South in honour of the British victory at the Battle of Aliwal in India. However this name never caught on and the town reverted to Mossel Bay;[1] this explains the now redundant North in Aliwal North. It received municipal status in 1852.[1]



Mossel Bay

Nomadic Khoisan people were the first inhabitants of the Mossel Bay area. Caves in which the remains of several Khoisan settlements have been found are located nearby, with the one located at the starting point of the walking trail to the nearby town of Dana Bay, now a national monument. A Khoisan cultural village is also located at the cave, but has been criticised for being "commercial". Other tribes also lived in the area, including the Gouriquas. Certain traditional leaders have asked that the town be renamed "Gouriqua". A more recent discovery at nearby Pinnacle Point is claimed to be the earliest evidence of human seaside settlement.[2]

The first contact between Southern Africans and Europeans took place in Mossel Bay in 1488 between Dias and the Khoisan, on Santos Beach. The meeting was peaceful and both sides were willing to trade. Dias erected a cross, and called the bay Aguada de São Brás, as they landed on the festival day of Saint Blaise.

The first trading between inhabitants of Europe and Southern African was in 1497 between Vasco da Gama and the local Khoi-San tribe. In the following years, Portuguese sailors would use the bay, where the Khoi-San offered them food, as a halfway station to the Far East. A small stream was used for fresh water.

A large milkwood tree served as a post office with Pedro de Ataide's 1500 posting of an important letter in a shoe under the tree. Important letters would be left in a shoe and picked up by later ships.

In 1500 or 1501 João da Nova erected the Mossel Bay Stone, which marked a chapel dedicated to Saint Blaise.

The first settlers were granted land in Mossel Bay in 1729, 77 years after the Dutch settled in Cape Town.

Dias Museum Complex

The Dias Museum Complex marks the spot of the historical landing of Bartolomeu Dias. The 500 year old Post Office Tree, a national monument, can still be seen at the site, now harbouring a post box shaped as a shoe.

The original Mossel Bay Stone has been moved to the National Cultural History Museum of South Africa, but a cast is in the collection of the Dias Museum.

Also located in the complex are the remnants of the spring used by sailors, although the stream now flows underground.

The Maritime Museum houses a replica of the caravel on which Dias arrived. The caravel arrived in Mossel Bay in 1987, a gift from the Government of Portugal. Another highlight is a map of Mossel Bay produced by early Dutch sailor, Cornelius de Houtman in 1595. The Museum is housed in the old Saw Mill Building.

The Granary (now the entrance to the complex) includes an exhibition on the cultural life of Cape Coloured communities in Mossel Bay during apartheid. The Shirley Building hosts the shell museum and a small aquarium including a 476 kg great white shark caught off the coast of nearby Hartenbos. Munroshoek in the complex includes the oldest houses in town. Recently, the building in which a Cultural History Museum was housed for many years was sold and became a private arts centre.

Natural gas

Mossel Bay's economy has benefited significantly from its proximity to an offshore natural gas reserve. The gas is piped ashore to the 'Mossgas' (now PetroSA) refinery which was built in the 1980s adjacent to the town. The harbour has been used extensively for servicing these oil operations, including the maintenance of oil platforms.


Mossel Bay features a mild semiarid climate. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Mossel Bay has the second mildest all-year climate in the world. The first is Hawaii. The weather station at Cape St. Blaize has the following climate records:

  • Jan max: 23.5°C (min: 18.2°C), Aug max: 18.2°C (min: 11.3°C); annual precipitation: 426 mm
Climate data for Mossel Bay
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 23.5
Average low °C (°F) 18.2
Precipitation mm (inches) 30.7
Source: [3]

See also



  • Tourists' Guide Greater Mossel Bay (Compiled by Marie Sweetnam), vol. 1, Oct. 1997

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Mossel Bay beaches
Mossel Bay beaches

Mossel Bay is a small harbour town situated on the Garden Route in the Province of South Africa. A favourite coastal and holiday destination, it has over the years developed into a town of unhurried hospitality, complementing the natural beauty and rich cultural history of the District of Eden. It was here that the first modern Europeans have set foot on southern African shores – commemorated at the Da Gama Museum Complex in the town-centre. Washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Mossel Bay offers sandy beaches stretching into the horizon, whale watching in season (June – mid November), water sport and extreme adventures. The Bay of Attraction, as Mossel Bay is often referred to, is also a paradise for any shopper hunting for local art and craft or maritime objects, and a hub for good entertainment and exquisite dining on the Garden Route.

Get in

By Road

Mossel Bay is situated along the Garden Route, connected with the N2 and therefore easily reached from Cape Town in the West and George in the East, as well as Oudtshoorn in the North.

By Rail

There is a daily train to George via Hartenbos, Great Brak River and Little Brak River.

This service will only operate as long as the regular Outeniqua Choo Tjoe[1] train between George and Knysna is suspended (due to severe flooding and landslides in 2006).

Get around

You can easily walk around the city centre, but taking a car to some of the outside destinations or restaurants is favourable.

  • Bartholomeu Dias Museum Complex, 1 Market Street, +27 (0)44 691-1067 (), [2]. M-F 9AM-4:45PM, Sa, Su 9AM-3:45PM.  edit
  • The lighthouse and Dias exhibit.
  • Take a boat ride to the seal island near the harbour.
  • Visit the market at Hartenbos beach.
  • Buy some wine and go sit at the cliffs in the southern part of the town, enjoying the view of the ocean. We were lucky enough to see a whale there, which gave us a private performance.
  • Just walk along one of the world's most beautiful beaches, packed solid in holiday season, empty in the 22 degree winter


The beaches offer a variety of very good restaurants (mainly fresh fish).

  • Desperados Pub and Dance, Voorbaai, [3]. A lively night club.  edit
  • Avenues Guesthouse, 23, 21st Avenue, Mossel Bay, +27 (0)44 691-1097, [4]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Situated on top of Mossel Bay, Avenues Guesthouse is a place of tranquillity with personal touch and attentive care. We offer comfortable en-suite bedrooms and a family unit, solar-heated pool, secure parking and internet access. Close to golf courses, beaches, hiking trails, restaurants and sightseeing spots. German and English spoken. From R230. (34°11'23,15'' S,22°8'39,09'' E) edit
  • Bantry House, (0)44 691 1995. a very nice establishment, situated above the bay and harbour. All four-star rooms have seaview and from here you will see one of the best sunrises in the world. Breakfast is served and wide range of drinks is available all day. Walking to town and the beach, as well as many restaurants is easy and parking available. From R300pps.  edit
  • Botliers Kop, (Near the R328 between Oudtshoorn and Mosselbay), +27 (0)44 696-6055 (), [5]. A private game reserve, where you can stay for the night, spend a day or just eat in their superb restaurant. The higher prices means a lot of inclusions, game drives, meals, and more. In low season R550-R2560pps and in high season R2107-R3120pps.  edit
  • Santos Express, +27 (0)44 691-1995 (), [6]. An old train parked right at the beach. You sleep on the train. Comfort is mediocre but its worth the experience and prices are affordable.  edit
  • Lots of camping sites near Hartenbos beach.
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

MOSSEL BAY, the name of a bay, town and division of the Cape province, South Africa. The bay lies midway between Table Bay (Cape Town) and Port Elizabeth roadstead. Like most of the South African bays it does not afford good anchorage. Westward, however, it is sheltered by Cape St Blaize, on which is a lighthouse. The town lies on the west side of the bay, Cape St Blaize stretching beyond to the S.E. Mossel Bay is 250 m. by sea and 312 m. by rail E. by S. of Cape Town. Pop. (1904), 45 00. The port ranks fourth in importance among the seaports of the Cape and does a large forwarding trade. Vessels load and discharge by means of lighters. Mossel Bay is a station on the direct Cape Town - Port Elizabeth railway. The Mossel Bay division of the province has an area of 707 sq. m., and a population (1904) of 10,700, of whom 49% were whites.

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