“The sea, once it’s cast its spell on you, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Yves Cousteau
Plettenberg Bay is suiting up for the first Plett Ocean Festival (1 – 10 July 2022) with loads of exciting events that shine a spotlight on the ocean and the marine life of the coastal town on the Garden Route. Anchoring the festival is a fascinating Marine Science Symposium, to be held at the Beacon Isle Resort, presenting a series of talks from experts in their oceanic fields and storytellers for a series of sessions that ocean lovers can really immerse themselves in. However, that’s only the beginning…Plett Tourism has partnered with ocean lovers, artists and adventurers from all over town, and further afield, to put on a marine festival that showcases our blue planet in living colour.
A highlight of the festival will be a workshop which brings together Plett’s Adopt-A-Swimmer and the Black Mermaid Foundation, introducing a group of youngsters to the wonders beneath the waves. These students – who learned to swim through Plett’s Adopt A Swimmer programme spearheaded by the indefatigable Louise Auersperg – will have their first experience swimming in the ocean with freediving instructor and MC of the Marine Science Symposium, Zandile Ndhlovu – the Black Mermaid herself. Although entries are not open to the public, spectators are welcome.
Ndlovu founded the Black Mermaid Foundation seeking to create diverse representation in the ocean arena of South Africa and her work centres around enabling access to ocean spaces to local ocean communities with the goal of inclusive participation, recreationally and professionally, while creating a new generation of ocean guardians. “Im incredibly excited to be partnering with Adopt A Swimmer for an ocean excursion in Plett, swim competency is the most important work especially when we look at the drowning stats in South Africa,” says Zandile, pointing out that being able to connect the work of the two organisations is a “beautiful witnessing of collaborations and partnerships being a powerful tool for change in our communities.” She goes on to explain that her work in the Black Mermaid Foundation has always been about creating diverse representation in ocean spaces: “And, the expansion of this work has been the conservation effect and to be able to do this work here (in Plett) is further expanding how we can only save our oceans together. This is also an opportunity for us to learn as the foundation looks to expand its wings in Cape Town to accommodate swim training.”
In a similar way, Adopt A Swimmer was founded as it became apparent to Louise Auersperg that nearly 80% of the youth in Plett could not swim. Adopt a Swimmer allows children of all backgrounds, under the guidance and coaching of Auersperg, the opportunity to develop this essential life skill. The program relies on financial support, from companies and individuals, of a child through the process of acquiring this very important skill. From that inspiring start on 30th June, the festival crests into an all-out ocean extravaganza across a variety of mediums: from the bottom of the ocean and the surface of the wave to the rocky shoreline, from film to canvas and back to the beach…
Although the Rock Pools by Moonlight walk is sold out, coastal explorers – both young and old – and passionate naturalists can join Nature’s Valley Trust’s Explore the Rocky Shores. Or, take a walk with Galeo Saintz – of the Garden Route Walking Festival – as he recites Poetry of the Sea. And, for a restorative experience, join Julie Carlisle and Sue Swain at the Brackenburn Rewildling…Back to Belonging – a journey for your senses and some of the most incredible ocean views in Plett.
Festival director, Cindy Wilson-Trollip, is pleased with the response to this first Plett Ocean Festival, “The festival has really gripped the public’s interest and ticket sales are going so well! We still have a week to go, and the momentum is building daily. We couldn’t be happier that people are being inspired to participate in the conservation of our oceans and marine life.”
For oceanic explorers and adventurers, The Surfing Life Wedge Shootout is a 4-person team surfing event at the popular Wedge Beach which features a two-day duel, super prizes from Surf Life and a movie night. Fisherfolk of all kinds are welcome at the festival as the Plett Skiboat Club will be facilitating Hake Fishing and Rock & Surf Steenbras Fishing competitions, and a casting clinic. Explore the unexpectedly beautiful house reefs off the Beacon Island with Pro Dive Plett – either on a reef clean-up or try-dive Discover Scuba Diving course. And, when you’re ready to stop chasing your tail, run or walk a fun 5km or 8km along Plett’s exquisite shoreline – show up wearing a tail and Plett Athletics Club will be offering prizes for the best dressed!
Ocean-centric art rides a peak at the festival with a selection of exhibitions and activities focussed on the ocean. During the Marine Science Symposium (1-3 July), Paul Allen Spirit Photography will be exhibiting in the lobby and children will be inspired by the imaginative art-making process at Sky Villa’s “An Odyssey for Children.” If you’d like to expand your drawing and creative skills, John Moore is holding a three-day guided art programme and Michele Bestbier’s “The Way of the Water” art workshop will explore six art mediums from a new perspective.
As an established and passionate supporter of Plett’s ocean world, Nature’s Valley Trust (NVT) is supporting the Plett Ocean Festival’s philosophy of Observe.Conserve.Preserve. with their usual energy and sense of fun. In addition to Explore the Rocky Shores, NVT will be partnering with Plett Tourism and Open Plan Pictures to host screenings of the new animated film, Seal Team at community halls around Plettenberg Bay, along with a series of talks about marine debris. Visitors can also join NVT in a Sandcastle Building Competition, a Nurdle Hunt (for those deadly plastic pellets) and an evening celebrating NVT’s 21 years of conservation and education.
The festival finishes off with a rare look inside the station that keeps our coastal waters safe: Station 14 – Plett, NSRI. The passionate crew of our local station, which has been serving the community for over 50 years, will be available for a chat and to showcase the rescue craft which form such a vital part of their volunteer work. Celebrating our heroes in red, that give of their time and their skill freely, seems a fitting way to end ten days at the first Plett Ocean Festival.
PLETT OCEAN FESTIVAL ACCOMMODATION
Please visit the Special Offers page on the Plett Tourism website for accommodation, restaurant, and activity specials during the Plett Ocean Festival.
The 2022 Plett Ocean festival is scheduled for 1 – 10 July, and tickets are available via www.plettoceanfestival.co.za and Quicket. For more information about the line-up of events, visit www.pletttourism.com.