The little village of Vermont is usually spoken of in the same breath as its immediate neighbour, Onrus, and indeed, the two lie close together on the coast where the Onrus River runs into the sea via a lagoon, just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town in the Greater Hermanus area.
Vermont borders on Onrus and a number of green belts were created in an effort to maintain the inherent tranquility and endemic fynbos and bird life in the area. Its name, which is derived from the French words ‘mont vert’ – meaning ‘green mountain’ – is after the American state of the same name and probably refers to the Onrust Mountain, which serves as a backdrop to the village.
Vermont, a newer suburb than its neighbour, serves mainly as a holiday village, its residents making their way here primarily during holiday seasons. A beautiful coastal path stretches from Onrus along the coastline becoming what is now known as the Vermont Trail, interspersed with tidal pools and ending at the sand dunes of Brekvis (Breakfast) Bay, one of the most undisturbed beaches in the area and a perfect spot for the earliest meal of the day.
The Vermont Salt Pan, an ecologically sensitive seasonal body of water that teems with bird-life, plays host to a large population of flamingos that come here to breed – their pink wings and long legs against the backdrop of the mountain make a wonderfully scenic moment.
Nearby Onrus, famous for its artist community, is also bounded by unspoilt surrounds. It lies nestled between a sandy swimming beach popular for surfing, a great tidal pool, the mountain and the lagoon. The green belt behind the beach is relatively safe from any proposed development, making it a wonderful alternative to Brekvis Bay.
Vermont and Onrus River are situated on the coast where the Onrus River runs into the sea through the small Onrus lagoon. Though the Onrus River, which rises in the Babilonstoring mountains, is little more than 10 km long, it was regarded by the Dutch settlers who first saw it as restless and they named it Onrust. Together with the fact that along its banks higher up in the valley a leper colony was established who used the water for washing until 1845. The spelling of Onrust has been modernised to Onrus in spite of opposition from traditionalists. Particularly vocal defence of the ‘t’ came from a group of distinguished artists who have homes at Onrus and the adjacent resort of Vermont. Many artists have settled here over the years including Uys Krige, Jan Rabie, Jack Cope, Elsa Joubert, Bill Davis, Gregoire Boonzaaier, Marjorie Wallace and Cecil Higgs. Vermont and Onrus consisted mainly of holiday homes and their owners arrive in droves during the holidays to bathe on Onrus Beach. Today there are many permanent and retired residents who have settled in these beautiful surroundings.
The Onrus lagoon and beach offers showers, cloakrooms and a restaurant right on the beach make this a very friendly spot for holidaymakers; it is also a favourite surfing and body boarding spot. The Jewish Habonim Holiday Camp borders on the beach preserving the green belt behind the beach from development. Brekvis Bay at Vermont lies on the boundary of the Vermont Nature Reserve and is one of the most undisturbed beaches in the area. Shielded by high dunes, Brekvis Bay is the perfect place to picnic and paddle. Vermont and Onrus have excellent accommodation from camping sites to luxury 5 star guest houses