Boating on the Knysna lagoon
Beautiful Knysna Villas

One of Knysna’s biggest attractions is its beautiful lagoon, so called by the locals even though the correct word for a body of water open to the ocean and rivers is an estuary. The lagoon draws tourists to the area to enjoy a range of leisure activities and exceptional boating opportunities. Whether you visit the area with your own boat or participate in one of the many ‘on the water’ activities available to tourists, spending time on this unique body of water is a must do when in the area.


Here are some of the things you need to know about boating on the Knysna lagoon:

Rules on the Knysna lagoon

All craft that enter Knysna lagoon need to be in possession of a current seaworthy certificate and carry all the safety equipment enforced by the local regulations. All boats also need to display a valid SANPARKS sticker and only persons with a SAMSA skippers certificate may be in control of a boat. Non-seagoing vessels are not permitted to proceed past Fountain Point which is indicated by a white beacon at the Heads. 

Permits for the Knysna Lagoon


All boats need a permit to operate on the Knysna lagoon. This permit requires a once off annual or short term (thirty day) fee and they can be purchased from the SanParks office on Thesen Island. Your permit will give you access not only to the Knysna Lagoon but also the various lakes and rivers in the surrounding Garden Route National Park areas such as Sedgefield. For more information on tariffs or how to acquire your permit, you can call the SANParks office on + 27 (0) 44 382 2095.

Safety at sea

Knysna has its own dedicated National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) station located on the Eastern head. The station overlooks the usually tranquil entrance to the lagoon, that has nontheless proven itself to be a sailor’s nightmare of the years and been the cause of many a wreck. Today the NSRI station is on hand to assist anyone in distress on the water including windsurfers, kayakers, canoeists, waterskiers, swimmers, divers, and fishermen.

The NSRI can be reached on 082 990 5956 – a useful number to keep on speedial.

Boat moorings


Holiday makers and residents of the 2 islands on the Knysna lagoon love the option to moor their boat outside their house on the canals of Thesen Island or in the small boat harbour on Leisure Island.  The lovely suburb of Belvidere also has a small jetty where it may be possible to arrange a temporary berth, and there are many access points and slipways to put your private boat in the water throughout Knysna.  You will just need to put your boat back on your trailer when you are done and, if you have arranged access you can leave your trailer in one of the trailer parks on Leisure Island and Thesen Island.  

Boat excursions


If you don’t have your own vessel, you will find many boat excursions and water craft that provide ways to enjoy the ocean, lagoon, estuaries, lakes and rivers of the Garden Route. In Knysna these include high speed adventures through the Heads on inflatable ribs, romantic sunset cruises on luxury catamarans, leisurely river cruises, eco adventures on the Featherbed paddle steamer, trips to see dolphins and whales, deep sea fishing charters as well as kayak and stand up paddle tours.  You can even hire a houseboat and live on the water for a time.

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