Spotlight on St Helena Bay
Category Cape Town Property
Historically notable for being the first place that Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama set foot in South Africa in 1497, St Helena Bay on the Cape West Coast boasts some of the richest fishing grounds and best sailing waters in the world and has long been a magnet for anglers, sailors and watersports enthusiasts.
However, the surrounding area also offers spectacular beaches, regular whale and dolphin sightings, wildflower displays in the early spring and a tranquil seaside lifestyle that has drawn an increasing number of new residents in recent years, as well as buyers seeking a weekend getaway or holiday home within easy reach of Cape Town.
The actual bay of St Helena stretches from the tiny village of Dwarskersbos in the north to Cape St Martin in the west, encompassing 18 smaller bays and coves such as Hannasbaai, Stompneusbaai, and Britannia Bay, as well as the Shelley Point peninsula, where there is a golf estate complete with private beach, country club, wellness centre and four-star hotel.
The local fishermen here are responsible for about half of SA’s annual fish production – including the famous Lucky Star brand of canned fish - and there are two working harbours on the bay, at Sandy Point and at Laaiplek, which lies adjacent to Velddrif at the mouth of the Berg River. Sandy Point is also home to the Tallie Marine boatyard, which is recognized worldwide as a leading builder of ocean-going fishing vessels.
The best beaches on the bay are the Golden Mile and Britannia, and there are dozens of B&Bs and self-catering establishments located along these stretches of coastline to meet holiday demand. However the actual town of St Helena Bay also includes the romantically-named Slippers Bay, Harbour Lights, Blueberry Hill and Columbine areas, as well as the Da Gama Bay, Sandy Point and Shelley Point estates, which are attracting an increasing number of retirees and “semigrants” from Cape Town and other parts of SA.
“And there is a huge choice of properties here,” says Chantelle Mathews, the area specialist for Chas Everitt International, “from residential stands and charming holiday cottages to estate homes and fabulous beachfront mansions.
“St Helena Bay is only 170km from Cape Town and also has most things one needs on a daily basis. We have a Spar centre, a mini-market and an Agrimark outlet, a medical centre with two doctors and two primary schools, as well as several excellent restaurants. And just 25km away, Vredenburg has the huge West Coast Mall, a private and a provincial hospital as well as several more primary schools and two high schools.”
The local real estate market is booming, she says, largely due to the ready availability of building stands at good prices – and is expected to show further growth as the new Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) at Saldanha continues to take shape and boost employment and economic activity all along the West Coast.
For now though, the latest statistics from property data company Lightstone show that there have been 154 transfers of freehold stands here in the past 12 months, at an average price of R213 000, and 215 transfers of stands in estates at an average price of R250 000. Prices are also up compared to five years ago, when the average stand price here was R137 000.
When it comes to developed properties, there are have been 145 transfers of freehold suburban homes at an average price of R875 000 and 71 transfers of houses in estates at an average price of R1,63m. The average home price in the area five years ago was around R620 000.
By far the busiest areas have been the Shelley Point Estate, with 29 home sales and 88 stands sales in the past year, and Brittania Bay, with 35 home sales and 58 stand sales. “We are also pleased to note a strong contingent of young buyers coming in the area,” says Mathews, with one in three buyers in recent months having been under the age of 35.
“Most are buying stands with the plan of building their own permanent homes here and this bodes very well for the future development and prosperity of the town.”
Author: Meg Wilson