Get ready to have your preconceived notions of Saldanha shattered on an epic two-day Saldana experience 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!
Saldanha like you have never experienced before
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, Kyle Dods and Alexi Silverman 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. Their friend, Alexi Silverman, also has a history intertwined with the port town. In fact, her great-grandfather was one of the pioneers of the fishing industry and had a hand in building Saldanha Bay Canning Company.
“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 second experience takes place on 19 & 20 October and invites visitors to explore the mussel and oyster industries that underpin Saldanha’s seafood offering.
You will be staying at the beautiful Blue Bay Lodge where a three-course dinner and wine pairing with Luke & Katie Wonnacott awaits you on the Friday evening. On Saturday morning after breakfast a boat-based tour will take you on a exploration 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 second edition of the Saldanha experience are limited and once the foodie grapevine gets hold of this one it’s going to sell out quick-sticks.
- Gorgeous seaside accommodation at the Blue Bay Lodge, Saldanha.
- Five-course dinner experience with Luke Wonnacott of Table Seven-fame at The Blue Bay Lodge
- Hearty breakfast
- Boat trip exploration of the Saldanha Bay oyster and mussel farms plus oyster shucking and champagne experience
- All-you-can-eat mussel & oyster pop up feast experience by The Mussel Monger and Oyster Bar in a in a working oyster factory
- 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
Writing Anna-Bet Stemmet