12 August 2016

South Africa - East Coast Road Trip - Cape Town to Morgan Bay

South Africa has a stunningly beautiful coastline, just waiting to be explored.
So we made this our focus for our 14 day journey, travelling from Cape Town (Western Cape) as far as Morgan Bay (Eastern Cape) One can, of course go very much further but we were tied down by time constraints.

Our first stop was in the coastal town of Mossel Bay - one of my favourite childhood seaside holiday places. Mossel Bay is blessed with a number of restaurants serving fresh fish. My favourite is the Mossel Bay Sole. Light and tasty and served on a bed of stir-fried veg. Totally delicious!

The Cape St Blaize Lighthouse is well worth a visit as it was first lit in 1864. Full automation only happened in the mid 70's.
The views from the lighthouse seemingly go on forever, either across the sea or over the bay towards the other coastal villages.

The Natural Tidal pool at the Point is very deep during high tide, perfect for diving. At low tide, perfect for the smaller folk!

Santos Beach is Blue Flag and offers safe bathing and long walks. The Santos Pavilion is one of  two Victorian Pavilions still in use today. It was built in 1906 and the deck offers great views for drinks or meals.

For the adventurous spirit, there are many options in the town such as the cape St Blaize Hiking Trail (13.5 km one way) or Shark Cage Diving.

A more sedate outing is the trip to Seal Island on the Romanza.

 Mossel Bay still boasts some original stone architecture in the town - truly beautiful.
Walking around is the best way to experience the heart and soul of this coastal village,

And for the antique lovers, there are a number of fascinating antique shops just waiting to be explored. Stocking just about everything and anything from yesteryear, its a treasure trove just begging to be explored!
Mossel Bay - Antique Shop

 See also previous post on Mossel Bay

 Whilst there are many small holiday spots along the coast to explore if time permits, our next stop was Knysna. This town is well know for "The Heads" the lagoon exit to the sea. The treacherous entry caused many a sailing ship to meet its doom! You can do trips to The Heads - most vessels turn around before they meet the waves!

Featherbed Nature Reserve hugs the southern head (trips available) and the northern head has palatial homes. Do take the scenic drive and walk to the view points for incredible views over Knysna and its lagoon.

Now what idiot would really climb on this barrier? I suppose it's possible despite the VERY steep drop down below! Trust me - it is a SHEER drop!

This yacht looks like a toy from up high - it ventured just a little further before turning around back into the sheltered waters of the lagoon.

Plettenberg Bay

Robberg Plettenberg Bay

Monkeyland at the Crags, Plettenberg Bay
 Our afternoon hike was in Robberg Nature Reserve, situated 8km south of Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route. This reserve is also a national monument and World Heritage Site. Rocks from this region date back 120 million years to the break-up of Gondwanaland and evidence of middle and later Stone Age in habitation has been found in a few of the caves along the peninsula.

We were so lucky to see "surfing" dolphins!
These wonderful mammals continued to display their surfing skills for what felt like ages and it was an incredible sight to watch.

Birds of Eden at the Crags,Plettenberg Bay

Suggestions if you are fit!
 1. Walk to The Gap and back to the car park, round about 2km.
2. Walk to The Witsand sand dune and down to The Island and back round about 4km.
3. The round trip via The Point is 11km and takes four hours or more. Not recommended for
young children/elderly/those with dicky knees or a fear of  heights.
Plettenberg Bay 

 Plettenberg Bay has numerous attractions such as Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani and, my personal favourite, Tenikwa.

The beaches are awesome for low tide walking or swimming in summer.

It's a great town with plenty to keep one occupied.

Our next stop was in Storms River.
You could be fooled into thinking that this quaint village is set in a time warp! However, there are many adventure activities available in and around the Tsitsikamma for the adrenalin junkies.
An absolute must visit is Marilyn's Diner where they host an Elvis and Marilyn Munroe collection, complete with a Pink Cadillac!
With the jukebox pounding out Elvis oldies, it truly feels like one is way back in the 60's!
See previous blogs under Eastern Cape for further details

The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Centre Port Elizabeth

 Port Elizabeth boasts lovely beaches and a beachfront promenade that is well used by locals and visitors alike.

Known both as the "Friendly City" and the "Windy City" it remains a cool place to visit.

The City Centre is best explored on foot and has an interesting history.

If you want to get to know Port Elizabeth on personal level, take on the five-kilometre trail that follows in the footsteps of the 1820 Settlers. It links no less than 47 national monuments and historical sites in central Port Elizabeth and is named after the acting governor of the Cape Colony at the time, Sir Rufane Donkin. Whether you like historical tours or not, this trail includes some fascinating facts about the area that will enlighten you about the city. Points of interest along the trail are signposted with information boards, making the trail very easy to self-navigate.

My favourite Hotel in Port Elizabeth, Humewood Hotel.
Not pretentious, ideal position and old fashioned hospitality within a modern environment.

 The lovely part of travelling is finding an unusual spot for lunch. The Sandbar Floating Restaurant in Port Alfred pushed all the right buttons for a lunch time beer. And watching the locals drive up in their boat to buy themselves some beers and food for their trip upriver was rather fun! 

  The Highlander Pub, a Scottish pub at the Royal St Andrews Hotel offers good pub food while the Wharf Street Brew Pub is housed in an historic building on Wharf Street (mid 19th Century).
 Owner, Braam offers a delightful menu for evening dining or one can just pop in for a pint from the Brewery housed right next door!

Coral Tree - Kenton on Sea and Port Alfred

These beautiful Coral Trees are known for their bright red flowers and coral like branches.

One can walk for miles in the beached of Port Alfred - good exercise to counter all those wonderful meals.
Lovely beach walk at Kenton on Sea

Kenton on Sea offers some lovely beach walks and we decided that this rock formation was to be dubbed " The New Hole in the Wall"

"Referred to as “the jewel of the Sunshine Coast” and sometimes as “the place between two rivers”.  Charles Butt bought the land between the Kariega and Bushmans rivers from the Government in 1878 and established a tobacco and vegetable farm. In 1924 the farm was sold to T.H. Tilt who named it Kenton after his birthplace in Kent, England. It was subsequently sold in 1935 to Alfred Pudney who divided the land into plots.
Kenton is blessed with magnificent natural assets - ocean, beaches (one has Blue Flag status), two rivers, the Joan Muirhead Nature Reserve (preventing any development on the bush covered dunes between the rivers)".


Chintsa or Cintsa as this small area is know is divided into East and West, being located at the mouth of the Cintsa River.

Cintsa West has a tidal pool for swimming while Cintsa West boasts a lovely beach. 

Cintsa East


There are many rivers in this area so many of the beaches are divided by the river mouth.  

If I had the funds, I would have bought the local Micro Brewery, Emerald Vale Brewing Company as I so loved their Pale Ale!!!
The hotels in the area stock their brand but we were unable to purchase stock to take home.

"Emerald Vale Brewing Company crafts its beer from the best natural ingredients in a simple yet precise process using rain water, malted barley, selected hops and yeast to yield a variety of tastes"

Varieties as follows:
Pale Ale, a crisp, aromatic beer for those summer days
Gold Ale, similar to our Pale but with more body and slightly more bitter.
Amber Ale, a darker beer, with a smooth even body and a slightly sweeter toffee taste at the end.
Dark Ale, a dark rich stout style beer with coffee and chocolate tastes

We did not actually visit the brewery as only spied it while passing.
Sadly!!!! Hence no stock.
The Brewery is situated on a farm which lies between the Chintsa and Cefani Rivers.
If you love beer - STOP!!

We were introduced to the beer at Haga Haga, our next stop. The road to Haga Haga is on gravel with numerous potholes. However, it is worth the short detour of approx. 13km. This small settlement has a peaceful vibe and lunch at the hotel was most pleasant, especially having discovered Emerald Vale Pale Ale!
Haga Haga


Morgan Bay 
A delightful spot with many hiking/horse riding opportunities.
The Double Mouth Nature Reserve offers incredible views and is a must visit. Just don't fall off the cliffs!

Another short trail is the Bushbuck Trail.

Morgan's Bay was named in 1822 after A.F. Morgan, who was master of the royal naval survey ship Barracouta. She was part of a number of ships on an expedition, under Captain W.F.W Owen R.N, sent out by the British Admiralty to survey the coast from Maputo southwards to the mouth of the Keiskamma River.
The Cape Morgan Nature Reserve takes its name from the automatic lighthouse, which peeks out above the trees of the indigenous forest that lines the beach. The ruins of the old Titanium mine, started by Trev Miller in 1958, lie within this reserve and can be accessed from the Kei Mouth Golf Course road.

Walking the beach at Morgan Bay at low tide is totally relaxing in the clean air with the sound of the waves lapping close by.
We were lulled into sleep at night as we stayed just a road away from the sea and rocks. Sublime!

Unfortunately, we were not able to head further up the Wild Coast due to time constraints - maybe next time!

Beautiful beaches, great hikes, friendly hosts and South African hospitality!

© Judelle Drake

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