The Gansbaai area, which has achieved legendary appeal as the "Big 2 Town", is broadening its appeal base by branding itself as Dangerpoint Peninsula. And the name has nothing to do with the Great White sharks and Southern Right whales that have made it such an attraction today. Danger Point is the rocky outcrop that claimed so many ships, the most famous being HMS Birkenhead in 1852. Read a survivor's story here.
The Gansbaai (or Gans Bay as Google will have it) comprises the following destinations:
- Gansbaai – Big-2-town
- De Kelders – Best spot to watch whales
- Masakhane – Booming community under milkwood trees
- Blompark – In the heart of the peninsula
- Kleinbaai – Home to the shark-diving boats
- Franskraal – Between estuary and ocean
- Pearly Beach – The longest undisturbed sand-beach in the Cape
- Baardskeerdersbos – Unique fynbos habitats
- Buffelsjagbaai – Most secluded shore community
Environmentally, the area's attributes are great – the stunning views from De Kelders across Walker Bay to range upon range of mountains stepping back from Hermanus; the spectacular coastal walks especially the long stretch of beach at Die Plaat (part of Walker Bay Nature Reserve); and an extraordinary natural environment that Grootbos Private Nature Reserve has turned into one of the Cape's most professional, WOW! experiences.
Shark tourism is big, but their customers are largely bussed in-and-out and exposure to the town is minimal. The exception to this are large numbers of international scientists and film crews that spend extended visits to document the fascinating marine wealth of the area. Day visitors miss out!
Between June and December, Gansbaai is home to the Southern Right Whale. This coastline with its many bays becomes the breeding area for these giants of the oceans. When there is a north wind, waking to the sound of whales blowing is one of life's special experiences!
It's an area looking for an identity – that is if you ignore its claim as the world capital of the Great White Shark (or the "Big 2" town) for a moment. It lacks urban quality, like so many country towns, and it is difficult to discover a "sense of place", but then its growth is based on the fishing industry, with city suburbia exported to the coast.
Official history records that in 1881 Johannes Cornelis Wessels, an 18 year old fisherman, walked across the dunes from Stanford to the now Gansbaai: named after a colony of Egyptian geese that nested in the area. Fishing was so good that he decided to settle there in a hut he made from stone, daub and reeds. Other families followed and built primitive dwellings among the dunes close to the sea.