Almost enough, but not quite. Not when there's the prospect of a long weekend lounging our way through the Garden Route on offer. With Somerset West mercifully disappearing into the rearview mirror the N2 stretched out ahead of us.
Bands of Harley bikers thundered past on their way to the Buffalo Rally in Mossel Bay while family-wagons ? packed to the gills with bikes and forlorn family dogs ? laboured up the hills. Through the dry wheat fields, a quick stop at Riviersonderend for the best droe wors in the Cape, another at the Blue Crane farm stall near Heidelberg for bread and chicken pies, and eventually I saw a light in the east. Ah yes, the flickering flame of MossGas. A quick zip along the broad sweep of N2 towards George and a slip road off to the coast; Herolds Bay, we have arrived.
There are dozens of B&Bs, guesthouses and hotels in the area, but we decided a seaside spot was best, so checked into the strikingly modern Herolds Bay Hotel. I'm usually wary of large developments in small seaside villages, but built against a hillside a short walk from the beach it melted into the surrounds surprisingly well.
Originally built as a holiday apartment block, the upside of the Herolds Bay Hotel is that all of the rooms offer self-catering facilities. Our one-bedroom suite boasted a spanking-new dishwasher and washing machine too, along with space to entertain friends. The furniture and decor was sleek and modern, with artwork on the walls and a leather chaise-lounge perfect for afternoon naps. Larger suites are also available for families and groups.
Holiday houses crammed cheek-by-jowl
If you're not in the mood for self-catering, there is a cafe/restaurant on-site, which seemed especially popular for evening cocktails and watching the Super14. Picnic baskets can also be ordered, with wonderful private spots nearby for romantic sunsets a deux.
Holidays are special occasions, so also charge your credit card and try out the Waterside Grill at nearby Oubaai golf resort. This trendy eatery at the Oubaai Hyatt is surely one of the most glamorous restaurants on the Garden route, and does excellent seafood scooped fresh from the sea and onto their show-kitchen grill. Also worth a visit is the Dutton's Cove restaurant on the hill above Herolds Bay, where you'll find good-value pub-grub with an awesome view out over the Indian Ocean.
And the sea is, after all, what draws most people to Herolds Bay. It's been a popular holiday spot for over a century, but the farmers who first camped out here with their wagons and families would not recognize the place today. Holiday houses are crammed cheek-by-jowl along the beachfront, with varying degrees of architectural taste on offer. Whoever named their house "Dankie Pa" deserves to be banned from the beach immediately.
But this is no Camps Bay strip, and it's easy to ignore the collection of houses. Simply face south and admire the views out to sea. Fishermen try their luck off the rocky point, kids vainly try to lick their soft-serve faster than it can melt and surfers make the most of the swell pushing through. The waters here can be rough, but an excellent tidal pool means you can swim any time of day. To the east, the small beach never felt crowded, and was a great spot to while away a Sunday afternoon with a good book (thank you Stieg Larsson) and a bottle of sun cream.
You'll also find pristine sand in the golf courses that dot the Garden Route. The likes of Oubaai, Pinnacle Point and Fancourt have made the Garden Route one of the country's top golfing destinations and are well worth a swing if you're that way inclined.
But my so-called swing is an abomination, so we decided to leave the fairways unexcavated and set off to explore the Outeniqua Hop. This loose collection of attractions and activities is spread from Herolds Bay to Oudtshoorn, and makes a wonderful day-trip away from the beach.
Take the road less travelled
There?s strawberry-picking at Red Berry Farm (don?t miss out on the homemade scones and jam), delicious Dutch-style cheeses at Silver Lily farm and a range of other family-friendly attractions. The route leads you over the Outeniqua mountains to Oudtshoorn, where ostrich riding and safari parks abound, along with the famous Cango Caves.
Leave a little extra time and take the road less travelled over the Montagu Pass. The road is gravel, but even my low-slung Toyota had no problem. The jaw-dropping pass is one of the great mountain passes of the Cape, built by Italian Prisoners of War in the 1840s and is well worth the diversion.
Happily, it?ll also lead you right past the delightful Herold Winery, a small family-run operation that?s making some excellent Pinot Noir thanks to the cool temperatures at altitude. The tasting room is right in the cellar, so at harvest time you get a front row seat to the sorting, crushing and fermenting, and winemaker Vivien Harpur is usually on hand to show you around the winery.
It's perhaps the friendliest, most laid-back winery I've ever visited, and it's typical of what's on offer in this quiet corner of the Garden Route. While the crowds shlurp oysters in Knysna and the trendies preen and parade in Plett I know where I'll be next summer? exploring a little more of the Outeniqua Hop.