From the Fynbos and forests of the Tsitsikamma Mountains to seaside fun in East London. The Sunshine Coast is best enjoyed by road tripping through the various seaside villages established along the way. As the name would have you think the area enjoys sunny forecasts for most of the year welcoming visitors to golden coastline adventures and an abundance of leisure activities.
Adventurers and historians alike will never want for something new to capture their interest. Hiking, biking and 4×4 trails and many other adventure sport options abound along this route, and there are many monuments and places of historical interest, especially in the cities of Port Elizabeth and East London.
Get Out And About and Explore!
Nine things to do in and around Kenton-on-sea as recommended by Coniston house in Kenton:
- Enjoy beautiful beaches and sandstone formations, including Blue Flag Kariega Beach and stunning Shelley Bay
- Have sundowners at the Sandbar Floating Restaurant, followed by seafood and white wine; Sunday lunch at Stanley’s Restaurant, coffee at one of the stunning restaurant/coffee shops in the village or steaks, calamari and pizzas at The Goat Shed
- Canoe along the Bushmans and Kariega Rivers (canoe hire available from Woodlands Cottages
- Go horse-riding on the beach
- Walk along the beach to Kwaaihoek, or beyond to Diaz Cross – if you are the energetic type
- Go birding on the coast, along two beautiful rivers and at the inland vleis and dams
- Enjoy an evening river cruise on the Howzat
- Go cycling on a choice of MTB trails in the area
- Fish off the coast or in the rivers
Kenton-on-Sea is a small coastal town on the Sunshine Coast. It is situated between the Bushmans and the Kariega Rivers and lies approximately half way between East London (180 km) and Port Elizabeth (130 km).
Take your clubs along
The Royal Port Alfred Golf Course is one of the oldest and best known in South Africa. The course undulates through thickets of coastal forest and over hilly dunes with panoramic views from many of the fairways. In true links tradition every slope, mound and dip remains untouched, demanding creative shot making and deft reading of angles. The sounds and scents of the Indian Ocean close by and the resident wildlife – bushbuck springbok, impala, blesbok, duiker, fallow deer and giant tortoises – add to the allure and enhance the experience. Visitors are always welcome.
Contact: 046 624 4796
The Fish River Resort, set between the Great Fish River and the winding Old Woman’s River, just 1.2km from the Indian Ocean, boasts a magnificent Gary Player-designed championship 18-hole course and fabulous accommodation – so stay a while…
The course presents bent grass greens and some unique natural landscape challenges. It is open to golfers of all levels.
The resort is situated on the R72 – the main coastal route between Port Elizabeth and East London. It is a 185km from Port Elizabeth (2 hours drive), a 100km from East London (1 hour’s drive) and 27km from Port Alfred.
Contact: 040 676 1101
Cruising Sunshine Coast
A great idea to add to your roadtrip itinerary is a day at Sibuya Game Reserve. A leisurely cruise up the Kariega River, a game drive and a delicious lunch on the banks of the river and a sundown cruise back to Kenton – a fitting end to a wonderful experience with nature.
Call: 046 648-1040 for more info
Big Pineapple – Bathurst
Here is another fun attraction for a family roadtrip. The Eastern Cape is synonymous with pineapples and pineapple country around Bathurst has its very own landmark – the largest pineapple on earth. Located just outside the town, on Summerhill Farm, the Big Pineapple at 16.7m tall celebrates one of the region’s biggest natural exports, first planted here in 1865. It houses a gift shop, a 60-seat auditorium, some fascinating displays and an observation deck. The kids can enjoy a tractor ride through the pineapple fields. There is no entrance fee.
East London, affectionately called Buffalo City by the locals, is situated 1000 kilometers from Cape Town on the South East coast of South Africa. Lying in between the Nahoon River in the north and the Buffalo River to the south, it is the only river port in South Africa. The shores are lapped by he warm waters of the Indian Ocean and with its sub-tropical climate is a sought after tourist destination for locals and international travellers alike.
With a genuine sense of hospitality and laid back style of living, East Londoners will make you feel more than welcome. There are only a few hotels in the city which has opened up a niche for local Bed and Breakfast and Self-Catering establishments, with their great service and true Eastern Cape cordiality.
East London is at the northern end of a 300 km stretch of coastline referred to as the “Sunshine Coast” which has Port Elizabeth at the southern end. East London, Bhisho and King William’s Town municipalities have been incorporated into one – known as the Buffalo City Municipality.
Jonginenge Adventure Activities – (Rock Climbing & Abseiling, Surf Lessons, Canoe Trail, Sand Boarding, Snorkelling, Guided Fishing, Kayak Expedition, Kloofing) – http://www.jonginenge.co.za/activities/index.htm
Mpongo Private Game Reserve – https://www.premierhotels.co.za/hotels/eastern-cape/east-london/mpongo-private-game-reserve/ Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve – http://www.inkwenkwezi.co.za
East London Museum, Calgary Transport Museum and Gately House – http://www.elmuseum.za.org/
Ann Bryant Art Gallery – http://www.annbryant.co.za/
Village Experience Tour – www.ezethutours.co.za
Avalon Market @ Kids Beach – https://www.facebook.com/AvalonAtKiddsBeach/events
Cultural Tours – http://www.imontitours.co.za/ and www.ezethutours.co.za
East London Urban & Cultural Experience Tour – https://www.imontitours.co.za
East London Tourism – https://www.buffalocitytourism.co.za
Port Alfred boasts not only the climate, the water, the beaches and the historical connections, but have stepped into the modern world with top-class shopping malls, sophisticated healthcare, a Royal golf course, intimate small-boat harbour, light industry, international hospitality university and 43 Air School, a world-class training facility for pilots and air traffic controllers. Port Alfred also has the stunning Royal Alfred Marina, one of few in the world where every homeowner enjoys private water frontage and a personal jetty! Visitors can enjoy boat cruises through the Marina canals or could hire a water pedalo or canoe to make the trip.
Unique in geographical situation, Port Alfred is surrounded by the most exciting array of game reserves and parks, yet to be equalled in Southern Africa.
There are international artists who live and work here. Each year in July, nearby Grahamstown hosts the world-renowned National Arts Festival and Port Alfred also welcomes many of the visitors who come to enjoy the music, plays, art, comedy and crafts that attract thousands. The warm Indian Ocean and many inland water surfaces offer endless opportunities for bathing, boating, water-skiing, surfing, windsurfing, angling, diving, canoeing and bird watching. This is the world of eco-tourism where you can hike and holiday to your heart’s content at a wide variety of venues.
Boating, River and Sea Cruises – http://www.sunshinecoasttourism.co.za/boating.html
Canoeing – http://www.sunshinecoasttourism.co.za/canoeing.htm
Dune Boarding, Hydro Bikes, Powerkiting and More – http://www.outdoorfocus.co.za/
Diving – http://www.sunshinecoasttourism.co.za/diving.html
Hiking – http://www.sunshinecoasttourism.co.za/hiking.htm
Fishing – http://www.sunshinecoasttourism.co.za/fishing.htm
Horse Riding – http://www.sunshinecoasttourism.co.za/horse-riding.htm
Kenton on Sea
Kenton has a temperate climate and more recorded sunshine hours than anywhere in the country. Temperatures seldom go above 27°C or below 10°C. Summer and winter rainfall regions meet in this area but more rain falls during the summer months. The warm Mozambique current flows down our Indian Ocean coastline and so sea temperatures are normally comfortable throughout the year.
The rivers flanking Kenton are safe for boating, canoeing and all river watersports. The Kariega and Bushman’s Rivers are navigable for 15 and 33 km respectively. Upriver one can view a host of indigenous bird life, from the colourful sunbird to the soaring fish eagle. Wildlife can be spotted along some parts of the banks of the rivers. Addo National Elephant Park and Shamwari, Kariega and Sibuya Game Reserves are also close to Kenton for Big 5 viewing.
River Cruise and Lunch – http://www.sibuya.co.za/en/day-trips
Boat, Lunch and Game Drive – http://www.sibuya.co.za/en/day-trips
Kayak Up The Bushmans River Tour – http://www.woodlandscottages.co.za/
River Cruise – http://www.woodlandscottages.co.za/
Hiking Trails – https://kenton.co.za/listing-category/hiking/
Boat and Canoe Hire – http://kentonmarina.co.za/
Alexandria is a small farming town situated 100 km North East of Port Elizabeth on the way to Bushman’s River Mouth, Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred. It was named Alexandria in 1856 after Reverend Alexander Smith.
Alexandria is known for pineapple production and dairy farming. The Alexandria area also includes the Alexandria State Forest, known as Woody Cape, which is a narrow stretch of pristine indigenous forest bordering the Alexandria dune field, one of the largest active dune fields in the world. Mammals that occur within the area include bushpig, bushbuck, Cape Grysbok, steenbok, common duiker, Vervet monkey, and large and small grey mongoose. The bird diversity is considerable and includes the westernmost population of the trumpeter hornbill, there are also crowned hornbills, crowned eagle, Stanley’s bustard, narina trogon and Damara tern. The Woody Cape Nature Reserve, which stretches from the Sundays River mouth to the Bushman’s River mouth and includes the dune field and the indigenous forest, has been incorporated into the Addo Elephant National Park.
Quinn Sculpture Garden and Gallery – http://www.quin-art.co.za/
Alexandria Hiking Trail – https://www.sanparks.org/parks/addo/tourism/activities/hiking.php
Bathurst is about 12 kilometers inland from Port Alfred, on the R67. Its chief claim to fame is that it was the administrative centre for the 1820 British Settlers who were established in the district as a buffer between the Cape Colony and the Xhosa pastoralists who were migrating southwards and westwards along the coast. Bathurst is part of the Ndlambe Local Municipality in the Sarah Baartman District.
Many of the original settler houses and other buildings have been preserved, and there remains much of the look and feel of an English village of the early 19th Century. The Pig and Whistle, at the heart of the village, is reputedly the oldest existent pub in the country. Built in 1831 by Thomas Hartley, a blacksmith who came from Nottinghamshire with the Settlers. Later accommodation was added and it became known as the Bathurst Inn. Legend has it that it was nicknamed “The Pig & Whistle” by the men at the nearby 43 Air School in WWII. While time has moved slowly in Bathurst, there is an increasing population of artists, academics (Rhodes University is only 40 km away), and retirees who have chosen to live in this tranquil environment.
Bathurst neighbours the Waters Meeting Nature Reserve, home to many species of animals, bird and plants. The reserve offers hiking trails, picnic spots and a remarkable viewpoint of the river and valley. The surrounding area hosts pineapple farms, game reserves and cattle and sheep ranches. It is a 10-minute drive to the beach town of Port Alfred and 45 minutes from the cultural mecca of Grahamstown.
Nature Reserve and Hiking – https://www.nightjartravel.com/hiking/waters-meeting-nature-reserve-trail
Port Elizabeth offers visitors a choice of stunning beaches, interesting museums and memorials, award-winning wildlife destinations, cultural and historical nuggets, and some of the friendliest folk in the country.
Port Elizabeth is a coastal hub in the Eastern Cape where locals proudly proclaim that everything lies within 15 minutes’ drive of the airport. It is one of the largest cities in South Africa, and lies 770km east of Cape Town, where it forms part of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, which links the city with the inland industrial towns of Uitenhage and Despatch.
Algoa Bay, the coastal strip of Nelson Mandela Bay, incorporates a 40km stretch of beaches, with protected areas for swimming at Kings Beach, Hobie Beach, Humewood Beach, Pollock Beach and Denville Beach. Fishing, surfing, scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing are enjoyed at less- populated spots such as Wildside, Sardinia Bay, Blue Horizon Bay, Bluewater Bay, Beachview and Schoenmakerskop. Port Elizabeth is also home to Route 67 a collection of 67 art pieces celebrating the years Nelson Mandela devoted to public life. It is a mix of visual arts, urban design and heritage, showcasing old Victorian churches; terraced cottages on Donkin Street where massive silver pipes catch the famous winds of Port Elizabeth and make music; a lighthouse that once guided ships into Algoa Bay; and a large pyramid built by Donkin in memory of his wife. There is also a large metal cut-out of Nelson Mandela symbolically leading South Africans to vote in the country’s first democratic election.
While in Port Elizabeth, you cannot pass the opportunity to visit the city’s multipurpose, multi-tiered Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, an impressive legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The city is an outdoor-lovers’ paradise, so do not miss out on boat cruises; diving opportunities; or a trip to the lush forests of the Kragga Kamma Game Park, where buffalo, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, nyala, bontebok, lechwe and other animals roams freely. Also worth a visit is a 52m tower with 204 steps leading to the top, known as the Campanile Memorial, a monument that stands sentinel over the Port Elizabeth harbour. It was built in 1923 to honour the arrival of 1820 British Settlers. Another memento of Settler influence is No 7 Castle Hill, built in 1830. This is one of the oldest surviving Settler cottages in the city and encapsulates domestic life of 19th-century middle class, complete with cobbled courtyard and an operational well.
Ocean Cruise – http://www.raggycharters.co.za/
Whale and Dolphin Watching – http://www.raggycharters.co.za/
Penguin Patrol – http://www.raggycharters.co.za/
Diving – http://www.expert-tours.com/
Sardine Run – http://www.expert-tours.com/ and http://www.raggycharters.co.za/
Hiking – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/adventure_sports/hiking_trails4/port_elizabeth
Golf – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/adventure_sports/golf
Horse Riding – http://www.heavenlystables.co.za/ and http://www.nmbt.co.za/listing/curanova_equestrian_center.html
African Drumming – https://www.facebook.com/africandrumbeat1/
Cultural Tours – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/arts_culture/cultural_tours/port_elizabeth
Theatre – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/arts_culture/theatre
Art Galleries – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/arts_culture/art_galleries/port_elizabeth
Museums – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/historical/museums
Lying on the Zwartkops River just 38 km north west of Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage is also known as the Garden Town for its gorgeous position in the foothills of the Winterhoek Mountains, its many rambling parks and a climate that allows gardens to flourish with little input. Add to this already pretty picture the fact that the town’s official flower, the Strelitzia, blooms just about everywhere, and you begin to see why Uitenhage might be a good place to stop.
It is also just 45 km away from the Addo Elephant Park, so makes a gentle stopover en route from Port Elizabeth, with numerous view stops along the way. The town itself was founded in 1804 so has a rich history demonstrated in a number of old buildings maintained in excellent condition, like the Town Hall, the Drostdy and the Court House. Victorian and Settler architecture add to the town’s historical attraction.
Mohair – http://www.nmbt.co.za/listing/hinterveld_pty_ltd.html
Museums – http://www.nmbt.co.za/search/1/things_to_see_and_do/historical/museums/uitenhage
VW Autopavilion – http://www.autopavilion.co.za/
Hiking – http://www.sa-venues.com/things-to-do/easterncape/groendal-wilderness-area-hikes/ and https://www.visiteasterncape.co.za/.
The town of Despatch is situated on rich clay soil and in the late 1800s was the site of a flourishing brick industry. Despatch’s name was derived from this brick industry history on the account that the bricks were ‘dispatched’ or more preciously ‘despatched’ away from a railway siding near Uitenhage. Much of the older buildings in Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth were built from these bricks. Most of these early bricks can be identified by the word ‘Despatch’ imprinted on the top and bottom of the brick. The only reminder of the town’s brick industry past is a chimney built in 1882 which formed part of the Brick Works. The Chimney is situated in a field on the outskirts of the town to the north next to the railway tracks. In recent years restoration work has brought it back to its former glory including supports which now give it the appearance of a space rocket. In 1903 the remains of a Stegosaurus were discovered near Despatch.