Eastern Cape
Best months:
May to October

Eastern Cape

South Africa
LAST UPDATED 07/01/2008
Bookmark and Share


Wayne Dam: Map of South Africa showing the Eastern Cape province; 29 April 2006

The Eastern Cape in South Africa stretches along the Indian Ocean between Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. It has a total area of 169,580 km² with the largest city being Port Elizabeth and the capital being Bhisho.

The Eastern Cape gets progressively wetter from west to east. The coast is geneally rugged with interspersed beaches, but most of the province is very mountainous between Graaff Reinet and Rhodes.


Port Elizabeth - Exfordy

Port Elizabeth is located about 800km from Cape Town. It is a relatively small harbour city  (harbour city of 1.5 million people) and a great base for surfing being situated at the end of the famed Garden Route, and about an hours drive from South Africa's surfing Mecca: J-Bay.  The Port Elizabeth coastline is known for its sunshine and sandy beaches. As you get further north towards the Wild Coast things get more rugged.

Port Elizabeth is a major sea port and tourist destination and thus has a lot of action for the travelling surfer, especially in summer.   It is situated on the western edge of Algoa Bay or Nelson Mandela Bay, and is a beautiful place to visit.  Also fondly known as the `Friendly City' and abbreviated as just located 'PE' in conversation. 



Nick Roux:Jeffreys Bay - Supertubes; 2006

Across now into the Indian Ocean, Eastern Cape sees less of the fierce SW swells that those on the western coast do so often the winter here is more manageable with less days totally out of control. The water is much warmer on this coast and the possibility of hurricane swell from DEC-FEB offers something completely different for the travelling surfer to contemplate.

The towns of Jeffrey's Bay and Port Elizabeth will serve you well if you intend to spend some time here. The main surfing area falls into the St Francis Bay location. April to September are your prime months for the swell / wind combo to combine and set the legendary right hander points alight.


Toll roads have SOS phones at regular intervals

All the ways of getting around South Africa are available in the country. You can fly with domestic airlines (the infrastructure is well established), or travel by car. Hiring a car is quite easy, just note that you will have to drive on the left-hand side of the road in South Africa. The roads are very good and all the large fuel companies have rest stops every 200km to 300km along the highways. So you can full up, eat, shop and rest (restrooms are well maintained and clean). Some rest stops have ATM’s as well. Note that fuel cannot be bought on a normal credit card, only special Garage Cards issued by a South African bank are accepted at petrol stations. One serious thing you should consider is the fact of car jacking, which usually happens on the traffic lights and at night.
Get an offroad vehicle if you want to wander off the beaten path. And just one warning, South Africa has a high rate of traffic fatalities, so try to avoid driving at night except in urban areas.

Another option, which gives you even more freedom, is a motor home. They are becoming more and more popular now, so you may want to consider this as well. If you prefer not to drive yourself, take a bus. There are scheduled bus services between Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and other cities, plus connections to neighbouring countries. Check out Translux, SA Roadlink, Intercape Mainliner and Greyhound.

Train services are also available in both budget passenger services and Premier Class.
Less responsibilities? Book a tour, there are plenty of operators that will offer you tours from one day tour to overland safaris.

And the last too things about hitchhiking and travelling by bicycle. Hitchhiking is ok and not that hard, just be aware of the fact that drivers can be potential criminal hitchhikers, so don’t hitchhike at night. Cycling can be considered a bit dangerous as well, but if you use your common sense you should be ok. And thinking about the beautiful views and opportunity to mingle with the locals, you should really consider this way to experience the country.

where to stay

Nick Roux: South Africa, Jeffreys Bay, Marina Martinique, 4 January 2007

Port Elizabeth is South Africa's fifth largest city and is located on the Indian Ocean coast half-way between Cape Town and Durban, in the Eastern Cape.

Port Elizabeth is a major sea port and tourist destination set along the beautiful shores of Algoa Bay.


  • Kings Beach Backpackers - The staff here can organise safari trips to Addo and Schotia Safari Parks for you for around R1000 per person (be warned that this is R200 more expensive than doing it yourself).
  • Lungile Backpackers - Offers private single/ double rooms as well as dorms and has a pool.
  • Port Elizabeth Backpacker
  • All Africa Wildlife Backpackers - Located in the Heart of a Game Reserve. Wake in the morning with wildlife on your doorstep. Rates range from R100 per person to R300 per room.

Mid Range

  • The Admiralty Beach House - Located 100m from Summerstrands Beach, near Marine Drive and features a wonderful garden. Some rooms even have a sea-view. ADSL is available in all rooms From R340.
  • Alcyone Accommodation offers you self-catering accommodation in a 1 bedroom studio with sea views; 500m from the beach, close to the Humewood Golf course and Hobbie Beach; fully equipped and with internet connection From R250.
  • At Sta-Plus Guest House - Features a large sheltered swimming pool, BBQ facilities, off-street parking, laundry service. Located about 150m from Pollock Beach, 5 min from golf course, university, or boardwalk casino.
  • Beachwalk Bed & Breakfast - 60m from the beach and 400m from the Boardwalk. From R250 pp sharing.
  • Conifer Beach House - 4 Star accommodation. Located just 2 minutes walking distance from Kings Beach with off-street parking, a saltwater swimming pool, laundry service, WiFi. Also close to golf course, university and boardwalk casino.
  • Holiday Inn, Humewood. Close to King's Beach. The hotel is a short walk away from Bayworld Aquarium.
  • Pine Lodge Resort - 3 star log cabins in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve From R300 to R1000 per unit per night.
  • Treetops Guest House - Free transfers to and from the airport 

what to pack

Fir0002: Umbrella with raindrops; 20 January 2005

Trainers, loose clothing - everything for the hot weather in summer. Climate is highly varied. Winters can be very cold, so take some warm clothes with you. It can also rain depending on the season and the area, so also take some waterproof clothes and gear.

Definitely take along some bug repellent spray, good sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses! Better take your medicines with you (esp. anti histamine tablets), as the brands can be unfamiliar and cost more. And take a good protection for your camera from the sand. You can also take some stuff to give away to locals (for example, pencils or some sport equipment for kids).

A small backpack makes a good carryon bag and will be useful in daily life. Women: remember to take a good flat pair of shoes.... And for everybody: pair of comfortable walking shoes will be great for walking.  

You must be a registered user to comment. Click here to register.