Despite a growth boom over the past 10 years with the development of several retirement villages, security villages and housing complexes, Onrus has retained its old world charm. This charm is mostly thanks to the unsullied old “heart” of the town where the giant Milkwood trees still form a canopy over century-old fishermen’s cottages and the old Mission House Gallery. Residents stroll to the beach along pathways that have been added for pedestrian safety and the languid atmosphere of summer holidays prevail.
Many of the residents are permanent now and work in and around Hermanus. There have always been many artists and writers that have been drawn to the Onrus River and stayed here as an inspirational hideaway. In the 50’s it was the bohemian escape of the creative avant garde, many of whom made it their home in later years. There were a host of well-known artists and writers that either lived or spent time in this secluded seaside resort. There were important South African artists like Cecil Higgs, Marjorie Wallace, Gregoire Boonzaaier and Audrey Fourie. The list of writers included Wilbur Smith, Jack Cope, Andre Brink, Jan Rabie and Uys Krige. The air is still regarded as inspirational and new names and reputations are making their way to the headlines, among these are Hennie Niemann Snr and Jnr, Richard Smith and Angie Key.
Quaint boutiques, coffee shops, pubs, restaurants and art galleries make Onrus well worth visiting and a pleasure to live in. The beach is a favourite with surfers and body- boarders and the lagoon provides safe, warmer paddling for children. In crayfish season fishermen take to the water from the small slip-way in almost anything that floats and divers glide through the kelp forests in search of Cape Rock lobsters.