Now that we are about halfway through our adventure in South Africa, it is time to talk about a somewhat difficult part of our journey and that is the drive to Port St Johns in South Africa, which was something else! Not that staying in Port St Johns itself was hard, quite on the contrary, but that road towards our destination, my gosh!
Anyway, if you can get to Port St Johns, please do, as we were quite happy to stay there for 3 relaxing nights, don’t get me wrong 😉 Let’s just dive right into things!
Port St Johns in South Africa: a must-visit for adventurers!
Picture this: A coastal gem tucked away in the southeastern corner of South Africa, where the untamed waves of the Indian Ocean crash against rugged cliffs and pristine beaches.
Welcome to Port St. Johns, a hidden paradise waiting to be discovered on the Wild Coast. This off-the-beaten-path destination boasts a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness, making it a must-visit for intrepid travelers seeking something extraordinary.
The Wild Coast, aptly named, unfurls its scenic wonders along the Eastern Cape, offering a landscape of rolling hills, secret coves, terrific beaches, and dense forests.
It’s a paradise for divers and hikers, yet surprisingly, it remains largely undiscovered by the mainstream tourist crowd.
Perhaps it’s the remote location or the fact that it’s a bit off the usual tourist routes, but this relative obscurity only adds to the allure of Port St. Johns.
But why would it be for adventurers only? Well, because the drive towards Port St Johnas is something peculiar all right!
The Hair-Raising Drive – Experiencing the Wild Coast Road.
Our personal adventure started with the road to Port St Johns, as we did it in 2 days, instead of one day.
We came from St Lucia in Isimangaliso Wetland Park, where we spent half a day in this world heritage park, so driving from there to Porth St John in one day would have been hard to do, if not impossible, as it takes an average of 8 hours driving (without including toilet and lunch breaks).
So yes, I guess we took the “hard way” to get to our dream lodge at Port Sint Johns, but still haha!
So the first day, we just drove towards a stopover at Eshowe and stayed at Bishops Guesthouse, which was a nice stopover for sure and we had a great chat with the owner! Also, there at breakfast, I was told that I don’t “eat enough”, because I prefer a lighter, continental breakfast and not a full English breakfast, including bacon, sausages, eggs, tomatoes, and beans, lol! We are NOT used to such large breakfasts people haha!
Anyway, the road.. Well, it was a small disaster. The N2 is a very tiring drive, from poor township to poor township.
Yes of course, the local people aren’t to blame for being poor, but for tourists like us, it can be a shock, literally and figuratively, because of the way people behave on that road, but hang on to your seats: the ridiculous amount of speed bumps!
I can tell you, we were under constant stress because of the HIGH-speed bumps, almost never visible because of the color that wared off (the bumps had the same color as the road itself), or lots of times, not a single traffic sign in sight warning us about them!
To top it off, it was like people were just waiting beside the road, at the exact spot of the speed bumps, waiting for cars to break down or parts falling off the cars passing by, so they could rob us or shout at us or even tap our car.
Please tell me that I was imagining this and that I was wrong and shouldn’t be as scared as I was?!
To top it off, this road and the whole region were FULL of TRASH and clutter: people don’t collect their trash in this region? All of this didn’t create an atmosphere for us to feel safe or enjoy the drive at all.
That is of course without counting the cattle, goats, stray dogs, etc, crossing the road, we even almost hit a horse!
To be honest, we do understand now why tourists want to avoid driving around on that coast, we didn’t feel at ease at all, and also, we were even scared to take a break for a toilet stop (there was nothing) or to have lunch.
Well, at the least, we didn’t see a roadblock there though, as we saw coming from the Barberton mountains, and we made it safely to our destination in beautiful Port St Johns.
Our advice? If you can, fly to Mthatha Airport (also known as Umtata Airport), where the distance to Port St. Johns is approximately 115 kilometers (about 71 miles) by road. The journey typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours only, and save yourself a long drive of frustration 🙂
But how about the scenery while driving, Lizzy? Well, being totally honest again, the landscape was green, but filled with townships to townships, and not a lot of trees or bushes around, just grass and more grass, and the obligated trash!
But then, you arrive at this destination and all is forgotten haha!
==> video from ‘our private beach’, so to say, at Port St Johns:
Quality downtime – Private Beach Livin’ in Port St Johns
So we arrived at our self-catering destination at Port St Johns and wow, I never stayed at a gorgeous beach this close to the accommodation!
We both just HAD to film it haha! (hear me giggling from stress relief lol)
I think we just sat there for an hour before we started to unpack our luggage, after the nerve-wracking drive haha!
I mean, look at that view, wasn’t it all worth it?!
So we stayed here for three days, had some lazy rest and some small hikes, just relaxing basically 🙂 This accommodation in the videos by the beach of Port St Johns is called “Delicious Monster accommodation“.
It has 3 magnificent bedrooms in a rondavel and a fully equipped kitchen that needs to be shared. We were there all alone, so we had the whole place for ourselves 🙂
The owner told us that she used to own a seafood restaurant, but COVID-19 messed it all up, unfortunately.
Other accommodation at Port St Johns.
Sadly, there is not so much accommodation as in other coastal areas around South Africa, and that is probably due to the reason that it is an area that tourists seem to avoid in general, but yeah, of course, there is more than just Delicious Monster, where we stayed:
- Porta Salutis: a large 5-bedroom house
- Cremorne Estate: a 3 star hotel with river views and a swimming pool
- Uzuri Lifestyle: lodges
- Linga Futhi Beach Cottages: comfy cottages
- and more..
The Marvelous Port St Johns: What to do in the area?
To be fair, we only were there to relax and enjoy the beach, the area, and some small hikes, but there is so much more to do and see around the area, let’s go!
We made a few hikes along the coast in the area of our accommodation, and it really is a gorgeous coastline to take a walk in the dense vegetation. You can’t really walk for long on a sandy beach though, although there are sandy beaches of course:-). Be careful of landslides though!
Here are a couple of notable hikes along this coast:
- 1. Wild Coast Hiking Trail:
- Description: The Wild Coast Hiking Trail is a renowned trek that spans approximately 280 kilometers along the Eastern Cape coastline, passing through rural villages, pristine beaches, and coastal cliffs. While the entire trail is an extended adventure, hikers can choose specific sections based on their preferences and time constraints.
- Highlights: The trail offers diverse scenery, including sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, river crossings, and cultural interactions with local communities. Coffee Bay, just south of Port St. Johns, is a popular starting point or resting spot along the trail.
- 2. Magwa and Waterfall Bluff Hike:
- Description: This shorter hike is known for its stunning coastal views and the impressive Waterfall Bluff, where a waterfall cascades directly into the ocean. The trail typically starts at the Magwa Tea Estate and leads hikers along the coastline.
- Highlights: Hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the Indian Ocean, explore the scenic cliffs, and witness the unique sight of Waterfall Bluff. The trail offers a combination of coastal beauty and the chance to experience the rugged wilderness.
2. The Umzimvubu River:
The Umzimvubu River flows through the region, and Port St. Johns is located along its banks. The river adds to the scenic beauty of the area, with lush vegetation and rolling hills along its course. The views of the Umzimvubu River against the backdrop of the Wild Coast are truly picturesque.
The river offers opportunities for various water-related activities. Visitors to Port St. Johns can engage in boat cruises, fishing trips, or simply enjoy the tranquility of the surroundings.
The Umzimvubu River and its banks are rich in biodiversity, supporting a variety of plant and animal life. Birdwatchers, in particular, may find the area appealing, as it attracts diverse bird species.
Fishing is a popular activity in the region, offering opportunities for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. Anglers can try their luck in the Umzimvubu River or head to the Indian Ocean for deep-sea fishing.
Common catches include various species of fish such as kob, shad, yellowtail, and kingfish.
With its rugged coastline, the Wild Coast is a haven for surfers. The area is known for its consistent waves, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced surfers.
Coffee Bay is renowned for its surf-friendly waves, attracting surf enthusiasts from around the world.
While the Wild Coast is not as famous as some other South African destinations for diving, there are opportunities for those interested in exploring underwater ecosystems.
Divers may encounter diverse marine life, including colorful reef fish, rays, and occasional sightings of larger species such as sharks.
5. Horseback Riding:
Horseback riding in the Wild Coast provides a unique way to experience the landscapes, from sandy beaches to rolling hills.
The Wild Coast is a paradise for birdwatchers, offering a diverse range of habitats, including coastal areas, estuaries, and forests.
- Common Birds:
7. Visit the hole in the wall
Situated a short distance from Port St Johns, the Hole in the Wall is a geological marvel that has captured the imagination of locals and travelers alike. This distinctive rock formation stands proudly against the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean, and its unique feature—an opening eroded through the rock—has earned it its intriguing name.
Taste of the Coast: Mouth-Watering Delights in Port St Johns
You’ve got to taste the magic of Port St. Johns! Picture this: the salty breeze from the Indian Ocean, the sound of waves crashing nearby, and a table spread with the freshest seafood you can imagine.
Prawns that practically melt in your mouth, and grilled fish that’s so flavorful it’s like a taste of the ocean itself.
But it’s not just about the sea here; the local Xhosa cuisine adds its own spice to the mix. I had this hearty Umngqusho, a mix of samp and beans, and trust me, it’s like a warm hug for your taste buds.
And let’s not forget the braais – South Africa’s barbecue game is strong, and you’ve got to dive into that experience. Imagine the sizzle of meat on the grill, the aroma of spices in the air, and the promise of a laid-back evening.
As the sun sets, finding a spot like The Spotted Grunter Resort with its ocean views or The Jetty Restaurant by the river mouth is the perfect way to wrap up the day. And oh, the local specialties like Peri Peri chicken and bobotie are absolute must-tries, adding that extra kick to the culinary adventure in Port St. Johns!
By the way, someone tried to sell this giant lobster to us, but we had to leave the next day and had no clue how to cook it 🙂
Afterward, someone told us that we were lucky not to buy it, as sometimes they keep these lobsters alive in a manure tank, imagine that!
My Final Conclusion.
I hope that you enjoyed my article on Port St Johns in South Africa’s wild coast, and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them down below in the comment section.
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I wish you happy travels!
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