Plettenberg Bay was named after Governor Joachim von Plettenberg, who incorporated the bay under the administrative sovereignty of the Dutch-East India Trading Company in 1778. The Company used the place primarily as a shipping port for the hardwood timber that grew everywhere. Later on there was a whaling station built here, which was active until 1920.

Long before Jan van Riebeeck landed at the Cape, Portuguese explorers like Bartholomew Dias in 1487 charted the bay, followed 90 years later by Manuel da Perestrello, who aptly called it Bahia Formosa or the Beautiful Bay. The first white inhabitants were the 100 men stranded here for 9 months when the San Gonzales sank in 1630. In 1763 the first white settlers in the Bay were stock farmers, hunters and frontiersmen from the Western Cape.

Prehistoria Man: Archaeological findings in Nelson's Bay Cave and Matjes River Cave indicate that Middle Stone Age man and then later by ancestors of the Khoisan inhabited these caves for over 100,000 years. The caves are still being excavated, but one can visit them and view the Khoisan (KhoiKhoin) tools, ornaments and food debris which have been discovered there. One can also observe the geological changes over the past millions of years which affected prehistoric life

The caves of Plettenberg Bay are wrinkles in time, lined with ancient artifacts that date to the Middle Stone Age. Under the sun, Robberg, Central and Lookout beaches are pristine stretches of white sand, magnets for tourists, seagulls and dolphins, who bob playfully just off shore