African spoonbill, Platalea alba, Knysna Estuary

This easy walk circumnavigates Steenbok Island, now know as Leisure Isle, in Knysna. It is perfect for an early morning stroll or an evening breather.

Getting there: take the N2 east from Knysna, turn right onto George Rex Drive, and then right onto the causeway to Leisure Isle. As you reach the end of the causeway you will stop at a stop street. Head straight across into Kings Way, then left into Founders Road. At the T-junction turn right into Cearn Drive, with the shore on your left. Park on the lawn a couple of hundred metres down the road at the Bollard Bay sign.
GPS Coords: -34.065547, 23.055118
Distance: 4.5km
Difficulty: easy, flat walk on grass and sand

At a glance

There are many ways to enjoy the island, but what I have tried to do here is follow a route that takes you around the outside of it, as close to the water’s edge as possible at all times. It is easier to do this at low tide, but even if the tide is in and you get to sections where you have to wade, the water is ankle-deep and there is sand underfoot.

Even though the first section of the route follows the road, there is not much traffic and it generally moves very slowly due to speed-bumps.

The section along the shore at the bottom of the island tends to be a bit marshy underfoot, and is of course tidal, so you might want to consider going at low tide. You can of course simply walk closer inland.

You can of course park and start anywhere, but parking at Bollard Bay gives one the opportunity to take a breather on the beach whilst gazing through The Heads across the lagoon after some exercise. You can swim in the safe shallow water and stretch out on the sand at Bollard Bay. The Green Hole picnic site offers public ablutions, as well as braai-places and picnic benches, but can get rowdy over weekends and holidays.

The low-down

From Bollard Bay head along the shore in the direction of The Heads; on the sand at low tide, along the grassy sidewalk at high tide. After 1.3km, as you round the bend, Green Hole picnic site will come into view. From here you must follow the road as the shore line around Green Hole leads into the salt marshes.

The salt marshes appear to the right as you approach the causeway, and when you arrive at the causeway road at 2.3km, cross directly to the other side and continue along the road. At 2.5km you will leave the road and enter the Steenbok Island Nature Reserve.

At the 2.7km mark there is a boardwalk making a small crescent loop over a small section of salt marsh. This is the Canon Interpretive Walk, and it has a number of info-boards explaining the significance of salt marshes.

At the 3.3km mark you will see a short detour into the Indigenous Garden which has a small collection of labelled indigenous plants.

At the 3.4km mark you will reach the Leisure Isle Boat Club parking lot. Head left across the drive and lawn to the two concrete balls marking the start of “Roger’s Way”.

Pass the lawn bowls greens on your left, and then head through the tunnel of vegetation with the tennis courts on your left. Roger’s Way ends abruptly and becomes the Nature Walk, however take a sharp right towards the water. Turn left at the bench at the top of the embankment wall; this area is called Kingfisher Creek. There is now a network of narrows track across the marshy section and you can choose which was to go depending on the tide. Head toward the right of the tall palm which you can see ahead, veering right when you reach the massive Milkwood tree and onto the beach.

Pass in front of the houses on the water’s edge as you round the point of the island closest Knysna town, remembering that even at a very high tide the water is only ankle-deep and it is sandy underfoot. The Heads will once more come into view as you reach the beach that continues all the way back to Bollard Bay where you started.

The route even has a Strava Segment for those of you that choose to run the route (and shows just how slowly I run!).

By David

Outdoor adventure enthusiast living on the Garden Route.

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