Alfred Port in the Eastern Cape
South Africa is a large country covering 1.2 million hectares, and this can lead to many people choosing to travel from places like East London to Cape Town. But this also means you miss to enjoy the beautiful coastline that extends just below the east coast of South Africa all the way to Cape Town. A drive from East London on the R72 will take you to Port Elizabeth where you can then join the main N2 road that takes you along Garden Road to Mother City.
The distance from East London to Cape Town is approximately 1000 km and approximately 13 hours by car, but the best way to negotiate this engine is to split it with several stations along the way. There are many coastal cities along the route including Port Alfred located in an area known as the Sunshine Coast about 1.5 hours east of London.
Port Alfred is a relatively small city with a population of around 20,000 people and attracting many tourists and holiday makers. The city is located on the Koi River, which flows directly into the Indian Ocean. The beautiful small boat harbor is a feature of the city and the south africans who vacation here use the harbor to launch their boats that they bring with them. During the summer season, the Kowie River rushes into the sounds of small boats full of families raising the river to enjoy water skiing, waking up or just a fun ride.
Left and right from the entrance to the sandy beaches scattered for miles. Kelly Beach to the west offers a safe swimming pool and has naturally-guarded lifeguards during the summer season. For hiking and sand skiing, the best beach is the eastern shore with its huge sand dunes. It is also a great place for surfing.
Accommodations in Port Alfred are popular with many guest houses, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering establishments. Self-catering is an easy choice with lots of local amenities like Big Spar supermarket, pharmacies, Woolworths and other major retailers. There are a number of good restaurants like Ocean Basket which are located directly on the banks of the Kowie River and are an ideal place to eat and watch boats as they go up and down the river.
The city also hosts major sporting events such as the inter-school rowing championship and university rowing championships. They both participate annually and attract large numbers of people during the different weekend. In Port Alfred there is also a diving school and a number of boats that offer deep-sea fishing charters.
Kenton on Sea
Just 25 km down the R72 from Port Alfred, heading towards Port Elizabeth, is another beautiful coastal city called Kenton-on-Sea. Although it’s smaller than Port Alfred with a population of about 1,000, it’s still a popular beachfront vacation destination. The Canton River is bordered by two rivers – the Karija River and the Bushman River. Between Kenton-on-Sea and beautiful sandy beaches, you’ll find the Joan Muirhead Nature Reserve, but you can drive through the city to a selection of parking lots near the beach. There is parking on the main Kareiga Beach, one in Middle Beach and the other at the entrance to the Bushman River.
If heading to the parking lot on Kariega Main Beach, on Eastbourne Road, then also continue Homewoods, an à la carte restaurant and pizzeria with a rooftop rooftop with beautiful views across the Kariega River and into the Indian Ocean. This is a popular spot for lunchtime snacks with a nice atmosphere.
The beaches at Kenton-on-Sea are a mixture of gorgeous protected bays and long sandy beaches. The beach at Shelly Bay is a true gem and a great place for a family to enjoy a day at the beach. The rocks around the bay almost form a runway and create perfect windbreaks for those occasional stormy days along the eastern cape. Mermaid’s Pool is also a good place and a great place to have some family photos by the beach. The rock formations along the beaches here are spectacular especially the Carriage Rock near Shelly Beach.
We love Kenton-on-Sea as the incoming and outgoing tides create a constantly changing environment, and the sun in the early morning and afternoon sun creates fantastic views across the sand and water along the Kariega River. During the whale season, it is possible to stand on the slopes of the Gulf of Chile and see these amazing creatures and dolphins as well.
The whole family will enjoy hiring boats and making a trip to the Bushman River. Boats can be rented at the Canton Marina. Kenton-on-Sea is very close to the Kariega Game Reserve and Sibuya Game Reserve, but if you can stay in one of these special reserves, you can always try “poor man game”. This essentially entails driving along the public roads that pass through these game reserves and knowing if you can discover any animals. It’s fun and you never know that you might be lucky enough to see one of the Big Five.
You will find beautiful self-catering accommodations in Kent like Wagtail Cottage whose owners embody the friendly people who live in this area.
Useful phone numbers:
Homewoods Restaurant: +27 (0) 46 648 2700
Kenton Marina: +27 (0) 46 648 1223