** This blog post was sponsored by West Coast Way and Blue Bay Lodge. All views are my own. Besides accommodation, all other expenses were paid in full**
A blog post like this is very easy to compose and publish, especially if the time spent coming up with the content was particularly amazing! I was offered an opportunity to stay at the serene Blue Bay Lodge and experience the sleepy town of Saldanha for a weekend. If you’ve read any of my other West Coast adventures, you will know how much I love spending time and recharging my soul there.
As you enter the legendary fishing village, Saldanha, Blue Bay Lodge meets you at the very beginning of the town, situated off Henry Wicht street. Aptly named after the Wicht Family who runs Blue Bay lodge. My fiance and I were lucky enough to stay in the stunning Executive suite overlooking the bay and of course the monumental Saldanha Steel plant. The staff are extremely welcoming and warm, something among many other reasons makes me want to go back and soon! Previously a homestead for the Wicht family, the Wicht’s moved to the area and bought the property in 1954, and proceeded to raise their 9 children on the small farm. The lovely owner, Mart-Mari Wicht, told us a charming tale of how her parents came back from their honeymoon and began with the idea of starting a self-catering establishment. Years after her grandfather passed on, her father bought the family homestead and turned it into Blue Bay Lodge. In 2005, the Wicht family built an additional 16 rooms on to extend the lodge, which we now call the suites.
As the storm clouds started rolling in to the bay, we arrived just in time to cosy up and watch from the comfort of our beautiful suite. Dinner was a gourmet hamburger and fries. Every Friday at the restaurant (situated inside the lodge) is Burger night, where for a steal, the hamburgers at a discounted price and cocktails half price.
Awoken by the crashing of waves, feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the day after a good night’s rest. My morning coffee turned into something of an experience, overlooking the bay area on the balcony with the crisp ocean air against my skin. Breakfast was a simple but filling one at the restaurant at the lodge. With the emphasis on filling and fueling up, we had quite a busy day ahead of us with site seeing around the bay. First up was a visit to the much talked about local gem, Cup of Cake. A bakery and coffee shop much loved by the locals and those passing through Saldanha, know it’s always best to get their sweet fix early, as the bakery fills up very quickly. The cake, deliciously decadent and moreish. The coffee is the perfect accompaniment to balance the sweet. I would recommend leaving with one or two cupcakes or slices. It’s just that good!
After all the cake, we needed to take a brisk walk to keep the guilt at bay. Just up the road is one of the West Coast’s oldest fishing villages, where the Hoedjieskop museum is. The museum was momentarily closed so we instead took a hike up to the look-out point to have a look at the bay area. This village has the oldest cemetery on the west coast too. Saldanha bay has such rich heritage and history, something that the locals can be proud of and I’m certain of is celebrated.
Saldanha is also renowned for sustainable seafood. Most people don’t know this, but the annual Knysna Oyster festival gets all their Oysters from Saldanha! Another fun fact: did you know, the best time to consume Oysters are in winter? The reason behind this is that they are at their prime.
Our next stop, was something I had been looking forward to all week! We took a boat trip to a local oyster farm. In the bay,of which there are several companies with flotation devices to keep their stock of West Coast Black Mussels or West Coast Oysters in check. A short boat trip across the bay took us to Blue Sapphire Pearls (the tour operator) section of Oysters and Mussells. The water is filled with many colours of flotation devices signalling which site belongs to which company. When asked, how do they know which stock is theirs, the tour operators, confidently responded with the only colour they use for their site.
The boat trip came to a halt. It was finally time to have a look at their farm! Like a rig or a well bringing up water, a rope attached to the flotation devices was rung around a recycled wheel, much like a conveyor belt. The belt stopped, out came three wire cages of dozens and dozens of Oysters. The two gentlemen on the boat sorted through them and put a few back. The reasoning for this is putting back the young small oysters that still need time to mature and grow. The bigger ones will of course dominate in the environment and eat most of the food(plankton, etc) and leave very little left over for the younger ones, hence they need to be sorted and set aside or shucked to be eaten.
With the engine fired up and ready to go, we made a very short trip across to a floating wooden deck, where Oysters are shucked, bubbly popped,and reveling in the temporary feeling of the good life are enjoyed! I lost count the amount of Oysters I consumed, and because my person is (so he suspects) allergic to shellfish, I chose to eat for the both of us! Two bucket list items are officially ticked off. Touring an oyster farm and having freshly shucked oysters right then and there! And of course shucking my own oyster straight from the sea. Whether you have a penchant for a freshly shucked oyster or not, this is definitely something every foodie or food nerd should experience!
Each juicy plump oyster tasted of the sea, fresh, and had a delicious sweet taste. I tried plenty without any condiments, and to me this is the best way to eat them. Recalling something that Kyle, of Mussel Monger recently said, “chew your oysters, rather than knock it back like a shot” Some sound advice, as you really get to experience each texture and taste as you chew.
The cliched saying of “time flies when you’re having fun” comes to mind. The weekend was over before it actually began! With a jam-packed weekend of seeing and tasting all Saldanha has to offer, I felt the immediate need to come back and do it all again, and soon! Blue Bay Lodge, is family friendly, a fantastic place to switch off and reconnect with oneself and nature. They host all sorts of family friendly activities year round, from the kite-windsurfing cup to a sailing regatta and lots more! See below to visit their website and keep up to date with all their events. Blue Bay lodge is the perfect sea-side escape for everyone! If you’re planning a wedding,function or conference, they have such beautiful and affordable facilities to host you and your guests. Get in touch with the team to find out more.
You can find Blue Bay lodge on the Foodie route(#53) on West Coast Way’s route guide. The foodie route is a great way to explore those tucked away local gems!
Plan your weekend away with West Coast Way and Blue Bay lodge whilst they are still running the 3 for 2 nights deal! Visit West Coast Way and Blue Bay Lodge for more information. To book an oyster farm tour and tasting contact Kevin Ruck at Blue Sapphire Pearls at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (022) 714 3928. The tours are R460 per person and have a minimum of 4 people per tour.