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Welcome to Arniston / Waenhuiskrans
Like its double-edged, this quaint fishing village holds the perfect balance between its rich cultural history and its untouched natural beauty. Both shaped by the rugged yet beautiful coastline of Cape Agulhas, you have found the perfect place to hide away from time.
Officially the only town in South Africa with two names, Arniston / Waenhuiskrans is truly something to behold. Tucked away behind rolling hills of golden sand and azure seas, lies a picturesque little fishing village favoured by artists and tourists alike.
The town’s original name Waenhuiskrans, was derived from the beautiful Waenhuiskrantz Cave (the Old Dutch way of spelling it) situated on the outskirts of town. Legend has it that the cave was large enough for a wagon with a full span of oxen to turn within it and standing inside the cave you can almost see the oxen straining against the turn. A popular tourist attraction, the cave can only accessed during low tide, but is definitely worth the trek as it transports you into a different time and space as you behold the wonder of the ocean. The Waenhuiskrans Cave is said to be the largest coastal cave with no supporting roof pillar.
The flipside of the town’s name, Arniston, was given after the HMS Arniston shipwreck. The untimely demise of the English Indiaman on the ragged Agulhas reef resulted in its remnants washing up on the beach of the town that would eventually inherit its name. The shipwreck is noted as one of the worst tragedies in South Africa’s history but also managed to put this secluded little stretch of contradicting splendour and treacherous coastline on the map.
The unpredictable Cape Agulhas coast might intimidate some, but not the steadfast fishing community of Waenhuiskrans / Arniston. The tradition bound folk of this area have adapted to the ever-changing area and have built a sustainable lifestyle from the bounty offered by the sea. Fishing keeps the small village going while they use the materials delivered by the tides to build up their houses.
The endurance of the Arniston people have ensured that it is the largest single settlement of its kind still inhabited by fishermen and descendants of the original fishing community nonetheless. The historic fishing hamlet of Kassiesbaai along with the adjacent dunes of Dollas Downs have also been declared a Grade 1 Nation Heritage Site called the Waenhuiskrans Cultural Landscape.
The conservation of this area is well-deserved yet seems almost irrelevant as it becomes apparent that time has taken it upon itself to preserve the very essence of this town.