Relief flooded my entire body when, after nearly six and half hours driving on the N2 Garden Route, we could finally see the flag symbol on our sat nav. Even better – driving over a crest of a hill and being rewarded with an epic view of the Wilderness coastline which stretches as far as the eyes can see.
It took a matter of minutes after turning off the main road onto Die Duin to locate our destination – the Dune Beach House and its modern, sleek exterior. While we were just happy to be out of the car, our mood brightened further after being welcomed inside by Gerald, who we were later to discover is the Dune’s manager and breakfast guru.
Before being shown around, we took a minute to take in our new surroundings. I admired the bright, tastefully decorated lounge area filled with elegant but homely furnishings. Even more so, when I spotted the Indian Ocean glistening behind the glass doors to the rear.
Our room, Africa, equally impressed. It was a decent size and even though we didn’t have a sea view, a path led to our own private deck which looks straight out to sea. Speedy Gerald, in the meantime, had somehow managed to make up another bed for Monkey as well as bring in our luggage while we were outside appreciating the beach.
It’s a rare occurrence, but we felt an instant connection with the Beach House and knew we were going to be very happy during our four-day stay.
The Beach House
Owned by Gary and Melisa, the Dune Beach House wouldn’t look out of place inside a glossy magazine. It exudes warmth and style without being pretentious, and if you look closely you’ll find plenty of examples of Gary and Melisa’s personal touches – from artwork and paintings to the flowers adorning the many vases that Melisa picks from the market.
While the Dune Beach House is cosmopolitan and styled to perfection, it doesn’t come with an air of superiority. In no way will you feel like you can’t sit on the sofas, or touch anything on display. Nor will children feel like they’re about to be hushed – families including theirs, a very much part of the fabric of the place. It’s this informal setting that made our stay so relaxing and enjoyable.
And the view… We couldn’t get enough of it. From our deck or the breakfast room, the endless stretch of sand and churning blue waves would mesmerise to the point where I would just sit and stare, breathe and repeat. The husband and I even started daydreaming aloud and discussing how we could buy the £1.5million property down the road so hard it was to tear myself away from watching the ocean…
It’s the Dune’s location that makes it truly special. Right on Wilderness with direct access to the beach via a set of wooden stairs, you can walk from your room and into the sea within minutes.
Guests can often see whales and dolphins swim past, although we weren’t lucky enough to see them, that didn’t stop us from using the Beach House’s binoculars – and it became Monkey’s mission!
WIlderness itself can be found between the Kaaimans River in the West and the Goukamma Nature Reserve in the east, bordered by the Outeniqua Mountains in the north and the Indian Ocean in the south. Not only does it overlook the sea, it also looks out to the Touw River Lagoon – and is an ideal spot for outdoor pursuits such as mountain biking, water skiing and river rafting.
Wilderness town – about a two-minute drive from the Beach House – is small and predominantly made up of restaurants and cafes, although there is a laundromat, supermarket, pharmacy and bank. If you’re looking for larger shops and malls then you can head to nearby George.
The Dune Beach House has a total of eight rooms, two of which, Africa and Sea Star, that don’t have sea views. Although we couldn’t see the Indian Ocean lying on our beds we had direct access to the verandah looking out to the garden, as well as our own deck which had two sun loungers to relax on. We were happy with our accommodation, from the white crisp linens on the super-king sized bed to the comfortable armchairs and ample storage space. Considering there was four of us, including an extra single and cot, we had plenty of room. We also had a mini bar, as well as a Nespresso machine and satellite TV. Not that we spent much time inside making use of these gadgets but it was nice to have them at our disposal all the same.
Meanwhile, the ensuite bathroom was modern and slick, with his-and-hers-sinks, a huge tub, and a wet room shower. What surprised me were the little flourishes that were available from the fragrant smelling toiletries and fluffy warm bathrobes, to the complimentary use of beach bags and towels, as well as a laundry service. I wasn’t expecting these extras which are more luxury boutique hotel than bed and breakfast.
The Dune Beach House isn’t huge, but nevertheless, it still offers up plenty for guests including free wi-fi, an honesty bar in the lounge, a swimming pool – if the beach isn’t your thing and plenty of nooks to relax in – both inside and out.
We were also able to use the kitchen facilities, which was so handy when I had to heat up and prepare food for the baby.
Meanwhile, Gerald, Gary, and Melisa are only too happy to impart their local knowledge of the area and offer suggestions on where to eat, and what to see and do – as well as make reservations or organise tours.
The Dune Beach House doesn’t offer any meals except for breakfast, but it’s an event to be savoured. Not only do you have the breathtaking sea views while you’re slurping your freshly-made coffee, but you also get to sample homemade pancakes, as well as a delicious fruit platter filled with the likes of lychees, melon, kiwi fruit and blueberries. There’s also a good selection of bread and condiments, yoghurts and cereals.
But the best bit is when Gerald prepares the eggs, any which way you want and accompanied by whatever you want. I couldn’t resist his ‘special’ omelette, filled with a bit of everything from cheese to bacon and mushrooms. However, after two days, I reverted to boiled eggs – my waistline was beginning to expand…
What I enjoyed about breakfast was also the fun Monkey had. He not only befriended Gerald but Gary and Melisa’s son, too, and the pair ended up serving other guests. It made Monkey feel very important – although I would like to add, his food serving and clearing skills don’t seem to have resurfaced back here in the UK.
And, while the Dune Guest House isn’t self-catering in the truest sense, the family are happy for you to use the open kitchen – I prepared dinners for the baby, and we also ordered in takeaway food to eat at the table.
We loved every minute of our stay at the Dune Beach House and hindsight is a wonderful thing. Had we known how much we’d enjoy it, we wouldn’t have moved on. We were sad to leave, especially Monkey who had made a good friend. In fact, I toyed with the idea of not publishing this post, because I don’t want anyone else finding out about it and what amazing value it is, either.
I cannot overstate how breathtaking a setting Wilderness Beach is – watching the children play on the sand and run in and out of the surf as the sun was setting will forever remain etched in my memory.
Gary and Melisa have a winning formula. They have the perfect location, comfortable and stylish rooms, coupled with an amazing and relaxed service from not only themselves but Gerald and the rest of the staff. We didn’t feel so much like paying customers but more like privileged guests staying in their beautiful home.
* Dune Beach House, 31 Die Duin, Wilderness, South Africa. Rooms from £120 per night. (MTM is not affiliated with the Dune Beach House in any way, we just wanted to write about our stay).