There is a stretch of coast, that's not as popular as the Garden Route, nor is it as main stream as the East Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. But what you'll find along the Sunshine Coast is a unique slice of coastal town life that makes for a pretty special beach holiday break.
While we recently brought you the inland pleasures of the Western and Eastern Cape, with these #Karoo Secrets and our complete Insider Guide to Route 62, it's time to move a bit South in order to see exactly what SA's Sunshine coast lifestyle living is all about.
If you've always just passed through, Port Elizabeth being a prime example, it's time to make more than a pit stop and get to know these towns a little bit better - See what Friendly City local Anje Rautenbach suggests to see and do here.
Following this more than 500km stretch of coastline from the beautiful forest-clad slopes of the Tsitsikamma with its many eco-trails and hikes, luxury bush destinations and sheltered coves, rock pools towards the lagoons along with seaside holiday towns like Kenton-on-Sea, Port Alfred, Cape St Francis and St Francis Bay.
Not to be missed is the surfing mecca of Jeffrey's Bay, where you'll find some of the best surfing spots in the world along with Supertubes, famous for its consistent, right-hand break.
But we're also talking about the must-visit beach towns of Port Alfred, Alexandria and Cannon Rocks, while further to the route's northern end is the coastal town of East London, also called Buffalo City.
Here's your complete guide to SA's delightful Sunshine Coast...
MUST-VISIT ATTRACTIONS OF THE SUNSHINE COAST:
This unique route’s most striking attraction is the spectacular sandy coastline, consisting of a variety of river channel connections, resorts and great activities for everyone to enjoy along the way. It is regarded as the ideal route to explore authentic beach and bush experiences, with an array of game reserves in close proximity too.
Then, there are also the thrills of seeing dolphins and whales from the shoreline, hiking, biking and 4x4 trails all adding to this thriving adventure route.
In addition to the beach and adventure experience, there are many monuments and historical elements on the Sunshine Coast and its surrounding areas… key attractions that make complete sense, as well as a few totally random ones that literally make you go, WTF?
From the Keiskamma Art Destination, located in Hamburg, the Big Pineapple en route between Port Alfred and Grahamstown in Bathurst, as well as Kenton-on-Sea's Sandbar Floating Restaurant - there are just a few of the Sunshine Coast Attractions to check -
Click here for the full list and Map of the Sunshine Coast's must visit attractions. You may also want to plan around this festive season guide of events: SA Insider Guide: Festive events on the Sunshine Coast
Jeffreys Bay, more commonly known as JBay by the locals and surfers, is considered one of the wonders of the Cacadu region that incorporates parts of the Sunshine Coast, including surrounding coastal towns of St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay.
Must do: Top JBay surf hotspots include The Supertubes, where the annual international contest - The Billabong Pro - is held. Head there and you too can surf in world-class waters! While many people from all corners of the world descend on this area each year to experience the water sport offerings, some visit for conservational purposes.
You can also check in with the Wavecrest Surf School for surf lessons - as they offer lessons or even a 7-day surf package.
Incidental Tourist blogger, Dawn Jorgensen took a Sho’t Left inspired by the sun-bleached beauty of these coastal.
READ MORE HERE: St Francis and Jeffreys Bay: 13 Things to make the most of this coastal escape
CAPE ST FRANCIS
Cape St Francis Resorts offer a variety of options from luxury villas to backpacking rooms right on the beach and in the most beautiful grounds.
Stop in at: Cape St Francis is home to a Penguin Rescue & Rehabilitation Centre. This Centre focusses on the rehabilitation of African Penguins following injury, offering visitors the experience to see these animals up close and personal. Although the conservation focus is on this specific animal, the centre deals with all sick, injured or oiled marine birds. You also cannot visit St Francis with taking a cruise along the canals.
A surprisingly small coastal town, comprising of ideal holiday climate, warm ocean waters and a rich history... this is Port Alfred - one of the Sunshine Coast’s well-kept secret, not only amongst the international visitors, but amongst the locals too.
Port Alfred is lovingly known as the ‘heart of the sunshine coast’ and lies on Route 72 between Port Elizabeth and East London. Ironically it seems the beaches in this tiny town never ends. Port Aflred is located on the banks of the Kowie River and managed to maintain that English fishing village feel, since the English settlers first set foot there in the 1800s.
Many South African's and international tourists might have heard of Port Alfred, but rarely do they know what this town holds.
SEE: A complete guide to the Sunshine Coast's Port Alfred
Don’t be fooled by the things you’ve heard about Port Elizabeth… just because the city has a laid-back atmosphere and the traffic is not on par with South Africa’s bigger cities, this seaside treasure is anything but sleepy.
It might be windy. But sleepy? Never. Port Elizabeth puts the vibe in vibrant and whether you are looking for adventure, heritage, nature, culture or urban escapades, PE is a lucky packet filled with things to keep you busy, entertained and gastronomically satisfied.
A way to make the most of the Nelson Mandela Bay is the NMB Pass Card, which gives visitors free entry or a discount to numerous activities and sights in and around the Bay, You can choose between a 5-in-1 NMB Pass Card or a NMB Unlimited Itinerary Pass Card that is valid for 1, 2, 3 or 7 days.
So fuel up, put foot on pedal, get in a car or a bus or a plane and head to the Friendly City. Because yes, we also have Uber…
SEE: A local's guide to having the best time in the Friendly City of Port Elizabeth
Yes, there is a bit of an influx of people during the summer months, but considering that Kenton-on-Sea is home to Blue Flag Beach as well as it stunning lagoon, this really can't be helped.
Must-do: The Sandbar Floating Restaurant is a definite must. It's been around for 24-years and offers seating indoors and out on the deck, the food is good, the views awesome, while the prices are reasonable.
ALSO SEE: The 7 wonders of the Cacadu Region
SURROUNDING SMALLER TOWNS WORTH CHECKING OUT:
Explorer Vasco Da Gama sailed this coastline and Cannon Rocks owes its name to the wrecking of the Portuguese ship Sao Joao Baptista that ran aground after a battle with two Dutch ships in March 1622.
Following the incident, 279 survivors began their arduous walk to Lourenzo Marques (Maputo) but only 28 completed the journey. The old cannons and anchor from the wreck were discovered and remain on display in the village. Today Cannon Rocks borders directly onto the Woody Cape section of the Greater Addo Elephant National Park and is world famous as a kiteboarding destination.
SEE: Alternative parks of SA: 7 spots often overshadowed by Kruger
Boknes is said to have originallybeen part of the Jammesfontein farm (1788). In 1927 the farm was surveyed and the first holiday home built a year later. Portuguese navigator, Bartholomew Diaz, erected a cross, or padrao, in 1488. A replica has been erected on the same spot, 4km east of Boknesstrand.
Surrounded by several rivers, offering great canoeing, birding and horse riding opportunities. T
he unspoilt beaches of Kleinmonde also forms pare of spectacular Shipwreck Hiking Trail. Hanlie Gouws enjoyed the Sunshine Coast adventure, which leads you over farm roads to the Fish River Lighthouse, across deserted beaches to the Fish River Mouth and Port Alfred Pier. Read more here - Shipwreck Hiking Trail: Pure slackpacking magic