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Knysna stands out on South Africa's famed Garden Route thanks to the sandstone cliffs that dramatically separate its tranquil lagoon from the pounding surf of the Indian Ocean. It's also home to the country's largest indigenous forest. Hop aboard a ferry for a ride through the scenic highlights. The Millwood Mines at Jubilee Creek, site of a major gold rush in 1885, provide a picturesque spot for a picnic. Be sure to try some local oysters during the renowned annual festival.
The caves of Plettenberg Bay are wrinkles in time, lined with ancient artifacts that date to the Middle Stone Age. Under the sun, Robberg, Central and Lookout beaches are pristine stretches of white sand, magnets for tourists, seagulls and dolphins, who bob playfully just off shore. Wildlife lovers will delight at the Birds of Eden aviary and Monkeyland. (How can you not have fun in a place called Monkeyland?)
Beautiful Hermanus is a South African seaside town that’s a popular whale-watching site. An initial visit to the Old Harbour Museum will acquaint you with the area’s rich fishing history and impress you with a massive exhibit of a whale skeleton. With dozens of area vineyards, Hermanus is a great base for a guided wine tasting tour.
Hiking trails and art galleries abound in Stellenbosch, but it's wine that takes center stage. More than 100 wine cellars, most open to the public, surround the oak-lined South African town, and tasting tours operate daily. Winter brings a four-day festival celebrating the local vintages. The historic town center houses the trading-post style shop Oom Samie se Winkel, the Neo-Gothic Moederkerk church, and museums dedicated to toys, military memorabilia, autos and early life on the Cape.
Now that casinos have spread in South Africa, Sun City is no longer the only gaming hotspot in the country, but it's still visually dramatic. Located two hours from Johannesburg, it's a sprawling complex of luxury hotels, restaurants and Vegas-style shows on the edge of Pilanesberg Game Reserve.
The Zanzibar Archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, is a breathtaking spot to escape from the world. You’ll enjoy clear, turquoise-blue water; shallow sandbars perfect for wading; and many small, nearly deserted islands virtually unvisited by tourists. Explore the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, Zanzibar City’s old quarter. Or just go beach to beach between tiny fishing villages—each one's better than the next.
Mombasa, with a population of 900,000, is no sleepy seaside village. Its beachfront hotels appeal to travellers in search of sun, sand and surf, while its Arab, Indian and colonial European heritage makes for a wide variety of sights to see. Can't find a taxi? Travel by tuk-tuk, a three-wheeled auto rickshaw.
This laid-back beach town on Crete is popular with European travellers. Soft, golden sands and shallow waters make the beaches here especially family-friendly, and there’s a great variety of tavernas, restaurants and bars (including an Irish pub!).
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