On November 7, 1497, Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese navigator travelling from Europe to India, “found” St Helena Bay. He gave the area the name Saint Helena Bay in honour of the revered and powerful Christian who was Constantine the Great’s mother.
The first contact between a European explorer and the local Khoikhoi (nomadic sheep and cattle herders) occurred on the shores of this bay. St. Helena Bay is currently one of the major fishing hubs around the globe. The cold Benguela current sweeps up the coast here, bringing nutrient-rich waters to the bay that support a plethora of marine life.
When snoek are captured in the winter, the harbour comes alive with activity as the fish are sold right from the boats. This location processes more than half of the fish handled annually in South Africa.
St Helena Bay is a famous tourist attraction, especially during the spring wildflower season, with travellers from all over the world who come for relaxation and recreation. It is situated a scenic one hour and 45 minutes drive (151,4 km along the R27) from Cape Town. While the white sandy beaches are ideal for beachcombing and perhaps a cool plunge in the Atlantic, the ancient granite hills and boulders that surround the settlement provide spectacular views of the bay and across to the Piketberg mountains.
One of the most well-liked areas for whales to visit and calve is St Helena Bay. The Southern Right Whales calve in the area from August to November, and you can see them from the coast all around the bay. There are also humpback whales in the region. Along with schools of dusky and common dolphins, Heaviside’s dolphins can be spotted in great numbers at any time. Large groups can be seen flying into the waves for pure delight or chasing fish near the shore.