The slides of a once-popular water park are now filled with sand rather than water. Located near Strand on the False Bay coast, Macassar Beach Pavilion is a sad relic of a time when this area was thriving with tourists.
Macassar Beach is named after Sheikh Yusuf from Indonesia, who was exiled to this location by the Dutch in 1694. He is credited as being the one to bring the Islamic faith to Cape Town, and there is a shrine to him on the top of a nearby hill that is still a regular place of pilgrimage.
The location of the water park was chosen because it was a quiet, calm spot on the edge of a nature reserve. The Macassar Dunes Nature Reserve covers 2,760 acres and is the largest and highest dune ecosystem in the Cape Peninsula. It is ecologically important as it includes fynbos, a belt of vegetation that contains an exceptional range of biodiversity.
The Pavilion was built in 1991. Although there is little information on what it was like during its heyday, it’s still possible to catch a glimpse of what it must have looked like when it was open. Although the colors have been muted by time, the faded blue and green plastic gives a hint as to how vibrant the resort must once have been.
Unfortunately, this picturesque area is known to have “dunes on the move,” which means the sand is often shifted by the wind. As a result, the owners and employees of the Pavilion were often waging a constant battle against the sand that tried to get inside the complex.
With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that it was apparent financial difficulties that forced the Pavilion to close its doors in the end. However, there are no sources to confirm this and no specific date on which the resort shut down. It generally seems that, as the Pavilion became more overwhelmed by nature, it became shabby in appearance and less popular with visitors.
Today, it is eminently clear that nature has won the battle. Sand is piled up everywhere from the changing rooms through to the entrance kiosk and concession stands. Swimming pools and water flumes that once held water are now full to the brim with sand. Grafitti covers the walls while bricks, tiles, and other detritus litter the ground
The Pavilion provides a unique opportunity for photographers documenting urban decay because its location by the sea makes it an ironic sight: an abandoned water park, right next to the ocean, filled with sand. The Macassar Beach Pavilion stands as a testament to how nature can reclaim its lost land.
The photographs were taken by Alex Hayn, and a big thank you to him for giving us permission to share them. Alex has got his Flickr account where he publishes his own work. In addition, Alex Hayn and his partner, Bruce Geils, created a brand consultancy business known as Atelier. More information is available via this link.