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Clarence Drive, Oudtshoorn

This 30 mile stretch of road that hugs the mountainous coast between Gordon’s and Betty’s Bay, is arguably one of the most scenic drives that South Africa has to offer. It’s a bold statement to make, but it is backed by the New York Times so you know, it’s not one that we’re making lightly.

Home to 77 bends, ranging from meandering winds to sharp twists, Clarence Drive is a road that you’ll want to take slowly and not just for safety reasons. Here marks the start of “The Whale Coast”, a shore generally regarded as the best place in the world to spot these giants of the ocean – remember to keep one eagle-eye on the Atlantic when tracing this impossibly pretty route.  

Located along the southern coast just a short drive from Cape Town and the winelands, Clarence Drive makes for the most idyllic way to travel en route to Oudtshoorn - it’s a short detour and well worth the extra 35km. And with numerous lay-bys, lookout points and pretty villages dotted along the way, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to views and lunch spots.

A mountain pass it may be, but this will be the flattest mountain pass that you’ll ever drive. Make the journey in the late afternoon and you’ll catch the natural amphitheatre of colour created as the dramatic mountains curve around the sun as it falls into the endless horizon of the waiting ocean.  

Why you should add Clarence Drive to your itinerary

Most of the ocean’s biggest names reside along this picturesque shore – think whales, sharks, dolphins, seals – so take some binoculars and stop at any one of the lookout points to catch them at play. 

But Clarence Drive isn’t just about what you can see from your car, there are plenty of quaint places worth stretching your legs in along the way. Rooi Els is the smallest of the villages that you will come across, but it is also probably the prettiest. With only a handful of houses making up it’s community, the main draw her is it’s untouched rocky bay and inshore reef – a favourite amongst divers. 

Towards the end of the drive, any wildlife lovers will be delighted to discover Stony Point’s penguin colony. Unlike Boulders Beach, this spot doesn’t tend to get overcrowded, making it the better option of the two when it comes to viewing African Penguins in their natural habitat. Oops – sorry Boulders Beach. Capture their adorable waddle on your instagram story and no doubt you’ll be the envy of all of your friends back home. 

And Stony Point’s local town, Betty’s Bay is definitely worth a stop after you’ve had your fill of its loveable black-and-white residents. Spanning 13 km of the coast, this is the longest oceanside village in the country and one where the natural world is in charge. Betty Bay’s residents are all passionate about conserving the natural beauty of their hometown so the fynbos has been left to its own devices and you won’t see any street lamps because they prefer the natural twinkle of the stars. It makes for an idyllic seaside stop, that’s for sure.

South Africa is known for its natural beauty and Clarence Drive epitomises the country’s dramatic splendour.

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Clarence Drive essential information


A winding road joining Gordon’s and Betty’s Bay. Skirting the coast, this pretty drive is flanked by towering mountains and hugged by the surging Atlantic.

Opening times

Spot whales here during winter and make the most of the coast’s pretty bays during summer – this is a year-round drive. 

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