The Sand Bar in Langebaan – the local after-work hangout – is a few streets from the beach. Inside, I find a row of men hunched over their beers. One man looks up when I enter, nods and goes back to staring into his glass. On the dance floor, a woman dances to Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is”. On her own. Yes, a weeknight in winter is probably not the best time to sample Langebaan’s nightlife, but a travel journalist can’t always choose when a trip should take place.
The town curves around the Langebaan Lagoon, with Club Mykonos at the northernmost end and the West Coast National Park to the south. Across the lagoon, I can see the flickering lights of Langebaan’s neighbouring town, Saldanha Bay. It’s late, but Saldanha is still hard at work. Cargo ships load iron ore under orange floodlights; ore that has been transported to the sea by rail from mines in the Northern Cape. Red-brown dust covers everything in the area. Here in Langebaan, however, it’s the opposite. No heavy industry is allowed and everything is quiet.
The lagoon is an offshoot of the bay and the town is protected from the stormy Atlantic by a long peninsula. It’s a holiday town and it bursts at the seams during summer when visitors fill the beaches and restaurants. Don’t worry – there’s still a pulse in winter. Most places are open year-round and you won’t have to wait in a queue for anything. In spring, the landscape around town explodes with flowers. So when is the best time to visit? Any time!