Paternoster - one of the oldest fishing villages in South Africa

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Paternoster 7381, South Africa

The village of Paternoster, located on the West Coast of South Africa, has a rich history with an uncertain origin of its name. While some speculate that the name derives from prayers said by Catholic Portuguese seamen during shipwrecks, as "Paternoster" means "Our Father" in Latin, others believe it may come from the Khoi tribe's term for their prayer beads, also known as Paternosters.

The name also appears as "St. Martins Paternoster" on an old map of Pieter Mortier, suggesting a possible link to Paternoster Row in the City of London, adjacent to St. Martins Court. The town, which spans 194.8 hectares and has a population of around 1883 people, is situated between Saldanha Bay and St Helena Bay, about 15 km northwest of Vredenburg and 145 km north of Cape Town.


The climate of the West Coast of South Africa, where Paternoster is located, is characterized by low rainfall, arid landscapes, and strong offshore winds. The region experiences most of its precipitation during the winter season and has a Mediterranean climate. This climate is conducive to the growth of the vibrant wildflowers that the West Coast is renowned for, which attract many tourists to the area.

Tourism activities

Paternoster and its surrounding area offer a wealth of opportunities to observe diverse marine and wildlife. Visitors can enjoy whale, dolphin, seal, and penguin watching, as well as birdwatching, with over 225 bird species in the region. For those seeking more active pursuits, the area boasts a range of sporting activities, including kayaking, kitesurfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kite flying, hiking, and even swimming in the cold waters of the West Coast.

In spring, the area is transformed into a stunning floral paradise, as wildflowers burst into bloom, forming the South-Western fringe of the famous flower carpets of Namaqualand. Nature enthusiasts can explore the Cape Columbine nature reserve, covering an area of 263 hectares along the rocky coastline. The bay, which is part of the reserve, offers numerous picnic spots and braai facilities.

The Cape Columbine lighthouse is a must-see attraction, being the last manually controlled lighthouse in South Africa. Built in 1936 on Castle Rock, the light casts a beam visible from about 50 km and is usually the first South African lighthouse seen by ships coming from Europe.