For years and years, the remote, rugged and raw little hamlet of Churchhaven has been something of a closed a book. A best-kept secret to any local or honorary frequenter of the whistle-stop. With its nature-conscious community of fisherman’s cottages settled down gravel roads, embedded in the wild fynbos vegetation and perched on the edge of the tidal lagoon’s beautiful blue waters, the locals’ wishes to keep this secluded sanctuary on the down-low are entirely warranted. Especially given it’s just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, in the untamed terrain of the West Coast National Park.
Yet, fortunately for us exploring folk – with our hell-bent hankering for the roads less travelled and the not so battered paths – there are a handful of lovely homeowners in this utterly unique and sacred place, that believe in the sentiment; sharing is caring. Less than three minutes’ walk from the warm water’s edge, settled along the footpaths of the marshland, where the wilderness abounds, Flamingo Cottage opens its contemporary yet intrinsically rustic doors, and escorts you into a very cleverly considered space of eternal bliss. In keeping with the village’s stringent architectural vernacular, this hideaway boasts vibrant open living, dining, lounging and secret hiding spaces, that pivot from the helm of the home – the kitchen, and its magnificent marigold backdrop.
As you unbolt the antique wrought iron gate and enter through the vintage wooden doors, the property reveals itself to you in a gentle unveiling of a never-ending canvas of cream soda. The views are so breathtaking it’s almost as if turquoise is a forgotten favourite on your colour palette. All four of the bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms. One of these bedrooms is a bunk room with two bunk beds in. All rooms encompass views of the lagoon and the marshland. A long governing stoep beneath the pergola – with its ample outdoor seating, swinging hammock, pizza oven and fire pit – a shady courtyard for some quiet reading beside bonsais and citrus pots, an old olive tree and views of the flamingoes in the shallows all add that next level element of a bounteous existence beside the blue.
However which way you fancy your days unfolding in Churchhaven depend entirely on you and your clan. You might begin with a hot brew and a rusk on the stoep, watching the sun rise and the colours of the water turn from pink to golden to blue. Then onto the walking, cycling and running trails that lead you towards Kraalbaai for another beautiful change of scenery. Greeting the odd ostrich or antelope or tortoise along the way. Back home for a late brunch and light snooze in the hammock. Then into the water again for some Hobie sailing, kayaking, swimming and gentle wading in the warm waters. Working up an appetite for the evening’s pizza-making missions, cordon bleu braais and fire-pit storytelling beneath the stars. Should the breeze pick up and the fresh West Coast air begin to beg for blankets, the fire inside awaits. Another round of games and one more tipple before those beckoning beds are calling. It won’t be long until that perfect pink sun rises again and the sail boats scatter the water that’s drifting with the tide. It’s a given that you’ve been seduced by the lagoon’s existence, its eco-conscious community, its contrast, its stillness, its balance and its beauty. You’ve bought into the magic of this paradise, and equally grateful for the sentiment that sharing is caring.
What we love!
- There are plenty of places to cook from, but creating culinary works of art in the kitchen, as you seek inspiration peering out of the window into the marshland, whilst simultaneously lapping up the laughter that’s bellowing from the kids outside is a glorious experience. Its open flow feel and access to incredible views makes this a wonderful space to prepare those delicious home cooked holiday meals from.
- The unique positioning of the property makes it completely secluded – as if you are on your own tropical island. The waters are certainly a lot warmer than the ocean, too.
- Spending many moments of the day doing absolutely nothing but following the tide, identifying all of the different bird species – it’s a birdwatcher’s haven – soaking up the sun and the stillness, and being present with your favourite people!
- Though the property is in keeping with the design of a fisherman’s cottage, it is adorned in fabulous contemporary pieces of art and furnishings that add an extra element of beach house refinery. From Andrew Cooper’s photography to Bordallo Pinheiro’s swallows. Lisa Ringwood’s ceramics to James Mudge’s Pick Up Sticks
What you need to know…
- Churchhaven is only a ninety-minute drive from Cape Town, within the West Coast’s National Park, where opening and closing times of the gate are in place and have to be adhered to.
- Of the four bedrooms, one is king, two are queens and the fourth is a bunk room to accommodate a total of ten guests.
- The property has its very own borehole system so there is plenty of drinking water, as well as a thorough solar panel system with decent battery life and a backup generator if for some reason the sun doesn’t play its part.
- There are plenty of wonderful cycling tracks to explore from the property including access to Tsaarsbank beach in Langebaan, where you can dip into the ocean (should you feel the need) and venture back past Geelbek restaurant for a little bite or sip, then back onto the trails. There is access to both sides of the lagoon from Flamingo Cottage.