You are my Sunshine Coast
my only Sunshine Coast
You make me happy when skies are grey…
The South African Sunshine Coast meanders along our sandy (and rocky) shores in the Eastern Cape from Cape St. Francis according to some, Jeffreys Bay according to others or Port Elizabeth according to the other others and stretches all the way to East London where it marries into the Wild Coast. With more or less 320 out of 365 days of sunshine a year it is not rocket science to understand just how this coastline got its name; while other beach towns cry “please don’t take my sunshine away” during the winter months, the seaside spots of Cannon Rocks, Kenton-on-Sea, Boesmans, Port Alfred and East London continue to reach for the SPF50.
So what’s so great about the Sunshine Coast?
Sunshine Coast tourism says, “The beauty of our wonder lies within its small towns, stunning beaches and river banks, and the warm-hearted people which reside in them.”
And then there is also the fact that there are a few big five game reserves as well, there is adventure, views for days, biodiversity, art, history, estuaries, legendary restaurants and unique and affordable accommodation; click here to see all the hotels, guesthouses and lodges available along the Sunshine Coast.
That’s quite a mouthful if you consider that the majority of above-mentioned can be found in a stretch of only 170 km or less.
Excuse me while I tap the Eastern Cape on the shoulder for being so incredible.
Just in case you are not yet convinced to head wheels first for the Eastern Cape, here are five more good reasons why you can leave your winter woolies at home and visit:
• 3 Blue Flag beaches; Hamburg, Kariega and Kelly’s Beach.
• The Sunshine Coast is home to 10 rivers which provide a pristine environment for birds.
• The area is malaria-free and there are numerous reserves that offer luxurious accommodation as well as game drives for day trippers; Addo Elephant National Park is a short drive away if you want to self-drive.
• It is a watersport haven; Cannon Rocks is known as one of the best kitesurfing spots in the world.
• It’s home to the Alexandria Dune Field, the largest and least degraded coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere stretching over 80 km in length with a width of up to 5km in some places and about 375 000 cubic tons of sand is deposited into the dune fields each year.
Is your mind blown sunny-side-up yet?
Head to the Sunshine Coast
The beauty of the Sunshine Coast is that the towns and villages are relatively small and while there is plenty of accommodation – varying in price, size and luxury – the towns and villages are still small enough to give you the much needed and deserved peace and quiet, even in peak season.
Consider a night or two or five in one these Sunshine Coast spots. Luckily, the majority of the seaside towns are relatively close to one another so to cut out the logistical nightmare of packing up every morning, base yourself in one or two places.
Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Boesmans and Kenton-on-Sea
This cluster of small seaside villages, all within a stone’s throw of each other, is ideal for visitors who want a beach holiday without feeling too crowed. Five of the seven biomes found in South Africa meet along the Sunshine Coast and over 480 bird species have been recorded thus far. And with all the beaches, rocky coves, restaurants, shipwrecks, watersports and the Bushmans River which is navigable for 32km, and Kariega River for 16km, you can be sure to find a holiday treasure or two along the way.
What to do in Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Boesmans and Kenton-on-Sea
Visit the Quin Sculpture Garden of Maureen Quin, one of South Africa’s foremost sculptures. You can find this at 5 Suid Street, Alexandria, opening hours are from weekdays 09:00 to 16h30, Saturdays 09:00-13:00. Entrance is R25 per person.
Drive the scenic back road to Alexandria via numerous farms and Woody Cape and brave the massive dune situated at Woody Cape Backpackers, it’s so steep that without the rope you’ll most likely eat a mouthful of sand before you reach the top.
Visit the shipwreck close to Roes Restaurant and watch kiteboarding at Kite Beach.
Make Nanaga Farm Stall part of your itinerary because what is a road on the R72 without a Nanaga pie and pineapple juice.
Visit Boknes beach and walk to Diaz Cross.
Get adventurous with the adventure activities on offer from Woodlands Cottage and get on one of the 12 mountain bike routes (ranging from 7.5km to 100km), experience Kenton-on-sea with photographer Dave Scott or with bird guide, Anne Williams. You can also join a 3-hour river cruise, kayak up the Bushman’s River, do a cultural tour and go on a game drive.
Go horse riding with Beachcomber Horse Trails.
Go on a beach walk and explore the caves, rocky shores, rock formations.
If you don’t take the cities marking the start and end of the Sunshine Coast – Port Elizabeth and East London – into consideration, Port Alfred is the biggest one you’ll find along the way; it is a town steeped in history but also quite a hub of entertainment with top-class shopping malls, golf courses, spas nature-based and adventure activities to ensure a fun-filled getaway for the whole family.
What to do in Port Alfred
Watch sunrise at Kelly’s Beach and stay for a swim.
Shop for gifts, antiques, Greek treats and flowers in Van der Riet street’s Courtyard.
Have a fine dining experience at the Thistle Restaurant of the Royal St. Andrews Hotel.
Get a whiff and a taste of locally brewed beer at the Little Brewery.
Venture about 15km outside of Port Alfred and experience the Sunshine Coast on horseback with Three Sisters Horse Trails and go through forests, down steep dunes and onto secluded beaches.
Explore the Kowie River either by canoe or go on a sunset cruise.
Go about 30 km north of Port Alfred to the Great Fish Point Lighthouse; at 9m tall it is one of South Africa’s smallest lighthouses.
If you enjoy birdwatching make sure you book a tour with Anne Williams who is an FGASA accredited birder with just the right amount of enthusiasm and insider knowledge of the best local birding spots.
Go on day trip to the nearby town of Bathurst and visit the biggest man-made pineapple, have a drink in one of the country’s oldest licensed pubs and explore a bit of the architectural history.
Wondering where to stay? Click here for accommodation in Port Alfred.
The peace and quiet and its location of being semi-off-the-beaten-Sunshine-Coast-path truly make Kleinemonde a place where you can get away from the hustle and bustle, with long sandy stretches, dunes and tidal pools. And if it gets too quiet, you can always get in the car and head to Port Alfred which is just 10 km away.
Did you know that in the last 200 years 50 ships sank close to Port Alfred, and 3 at Kleinemonde?
What to do in Kleinemonde
Have a two-for-one adventure and paddle for 8km upstream on the Kleinmonde West River Canoe Trail, then hike for 2 km before you reach your basic rustic accommodation. There are six canoes available and the activity can accommodate up to 12 people.
Head to Kleinemonde Beach for some fun in the sun; you can surf, fish, do some stand-up paddling, kite-surf, and of course, swim.
Wondering where to stay? Click here for accommodation in Kleinemonde.
Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the most quiet of them all? If someone doesn’t tell you about Hamburg or if you don’t zoom in on a map, one can easily miss this small town that’s still relatively undiscovered. Hamburg – located between Port Alfred and East London – is known as the land of the monster kob and popular among fishermen. But if a bit of downtime is on your list of things to do, you’ll definitely catch some of that too.
What to do in Hamburg
Visit the Keiskamma Community Art Project in Hamburg where more than 100 local artists and crafters participate in the collaborative community-owned art outlet and workshop where they offer high-quality and handmade pieces telling the story of Hamburg.
Go to Keiskamma River Mouth and enjoy the peaceful surroundings where you’ll have the opportunity to do some bird watching, swimming, canoeing and windsurfing.
Accommodation in Hamburg is limited, you’ll mostly find family homes which are rented out for holidaymakers, a caravan park and there’s also Hamburg Backpackers.
See you on the sunny side?
This blog post was sponsored by SA-Venues.com. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.