In 1899, architect FW Ortloff’s sea wall (better known as the Mole) was intended to enhance Swakopmund’s poor harbour and create a mooring place for large cargo vessels. But Mr Ortloff was unfamiliar with the Benguela Current, which sweeps northwards along the coast, carrying with it a load of sand from the southern deserts. Within less than five years, the harbour entrance was choked off by a sand bank.

Two years later the harbour itself had been invaded by sand to create what is now called Palm Beach. The Mole is currently used as a mooring for pleasure boats.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Swakopmund attractions

1. Swakopmund Museum

0.13 MILES

When ill winds blow, head for this museum at the foot of the lighthouse, where you can hole up and learn about the town's history. The museum occupies the…

2. Lighthouse

0.19 MILES

This operational lighthouse, an endearing Swakopmund landmark just off Strand St, was constructed in 1902. It was originally built 11m high, but an…

4. Marine Memorial

0.25 MILES

Often known by its German name, Marine Denkmal, this memorial was commissioned in 1907 by the Marine Infantry in Kiel, Germany, and designed by sculptor…

5. Altes Amtsgericht

0.26 MILES

This gabled building, on the corner of Garnison and Bahnhof Sts, was constructed in 1908 as a private school. When the funds ran out, the government took…

6. Kristall Galerie


This architecturally astute gallery features some of the planet’s most incredible crystal formations, including the largest quartz crystal that has ever…

7. Woermannhaus

0.38 MILES

From the shore, the delightful German-style Woermannhaus stands out above surrounding buildings. Built in 1905 as the main offices of the Damara & Namaqua…

8. Deutsche-Afrika Bank Building


Swakopmund brims with numerous historic examples of traditional German architecture. The handsome neo-classical Deutsche-Afrika Bank Building was opened…