Port Elizabeth has been called many things from the ‘windy city’ and ‘friendly city’ to the Gateway to the Garden Route or Eastern Cape bushveld; when in fact PE as it’s known to most is an all-round, value for money, fun-in-the-sun, outdoorsy, beachy family holiday destination. We’re talking pretty much beaches left right and centre along this often overlooked white sandy coastline. The Eastern Cape is renowned for magnificent never-ending white beaches and it all starts right here in sunny Port Elizabeth.
Whether you’re after those long early morning walks with the dogs, safe swimming for the kiddies, kite-surfing perfection or good old-fashioned ice-creams on the beach convenience this list of PE’s 10 great beaches has something for everyone’s next summer, spring, autumn or winter holiday.
Blue Horizon Bay
This almost secluded endless white beach conjures up dreams of perfect summer holidays spent strolling along the water’s edge with waves crashing in rhythm over your shoulder. Lazy days reading in the sun or evening clambers to the top of the dunes to catch the very last rays of a glowing sunset are high up on my list of holiday priorities. The city is a short drive away in case the yearning for shopping malls and bright lights gets too much.
A little way down the coast you will find the village of Beachview with an aptly named 180-degree view of the ocean from just about every home. With this area known as the ‘wild side’ or the ‘windward’ side this rocky shore beach is perfect for family outings with the kids. The beach is not ideal for swimming with many strong currents and backwash, but with infinite rock pools, shells and stones to examine, you will keep them occupied for hours. If it gets too windy head a little way down the road to Seaview and have a scrumptious meal at Barnacles restaurant while watching everyone else battle the breeze outside.
— Judy (@epiclegend30) April 17, 2015
Carrying on down the coastline you’ll find the ultimate beach for everything energetic. Take lengthy, leisurely walks with the dogs and end it off with an invigorating swim in the safe little bay. If you’re up for more, join the many kite-surfers and make the most of the ‘windy city’s’ generous gusts or grab your sandboard, boogie board or even a piece of cardboard will work, and spend hours rushing down the tall dunes screeching with delight (or fear).
Schoenmakerskop or ‘Schoenies’ as it’s affectionately known is a delightful beach full of picnic spots, rock pools, little coves and a few sandy bays to swim in that are surprisingly protected from the wind. What a perfect way to spend a day with the kids. The Sacremento coastal hiking trail also begins here and is a pleasant 8km walk through the Schoenmakerskop-Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve and if you keep your eyes open you’re very likely to spot dolphins in the waves and if it’s winter/autumn even a whale breaching.
Also known as the ‘Pipe’ to locals this sandy corner is popular with surfers because of the fairly reliable right and left beach break as well as a parking lot almost a few steps from the water’s edge and a decent ablution block. The swimming area is right in front of the Summerstrand Surf Life Saving Club which means regular beach patrols and lifeguards. It’s not all about surfing though with natural rock pools, snorkelling spots and plenty of space to build giant sandcastles. It can get a little crowded at the far end on those perfect beach days. It’s also across the road from the Summerstrand shopping complex for those last-minute beach snacks and cool drinks.
Referred to as the Clifton of Port Elizabeth this blue flag beach has everything going for it, unless you’re not a fan of crowds. This is probably the most popular beach in PE and it boasts the picturesque Shark Rock Pier to its left. The construction of this resulted in the creation of a sand-trapped shoreline that created the perfect swimming, sunbathing playground. The site of the famous Splash festival the beach is surrounded by restaurants, a promenade, ice-cream shops, diving operators and even a boat-launching site. The pier is always busy with people walking along it gazing down into the inviting water below. After a long day in the sun head to one of PE’s oldest establishments, Barney’s pub and enjoy a sundowner.
PE’s oldest blue flag beach, this sheltered stretch of sand is a popular sunbathing spot for those who are not a fan of sand with every mouthful of sandwich. It lies between the busy Hobie and King’s beaches and is opposite the famous Happy Valley Park. It is another family favourite with plenteous rock pools, snorkelling spots, fishing areas and with lifeguards all the time, the swimming is safe.
An often overlooked beach this spot is separated from Humewood beach by a small section of rocks and is alongside the famous McArthur Baths. If you want to try your hand at surfing for the first time this is a great beach for beginner surfers and is free of too many swimmers (unlike the surrounding beaches). Located across the road from the Dolphin’s Leap Centre and the famous Bayworld this beach might just offer you a little more space to spend your day in the sun.
Much like Hobie Beach, King’s Beach is one of PE’s most popular and busy beaches. This 1.6km stretch of sand is also a Blue Flag beach meaning it offers beauty and safety as well as environmental friendliness . If you have super energetic kids this is the best place to bring them with the McArthur’s Baths Pool Complex right on the beach. We’re talking the full-water-monty with water slides, open-air fresh water pools, a training pool and plenty of shops and kiosks to fuel the family up all day. Mini-golf, go-karting and even some luscious green grass to picnic on make this a full-on family fun mecca.
— Ernst Kuhlmann (@KuhlmannErnst) December 14, 2014
If all the busyness and excitement of these city beaches are a little too much for you then head up the coast to the magnificent stretch of sand at Blue Water Bay. You really can walk for miles along this beach chatting to the many fisherman all chasing the big Kabeljou and Steenbras in these waters. A popular spot for windsurfing you can either hit the Flat Water section on the Swartkops River or head into the big surf for ‘Wild Side’ surfing. There are lifeguards on the beach but this area is known for dangerous big surf at times.
Whether you’re a swimmer, walker, surfer or simply a sand lover you’ll find it difficult not to be impressed by at least one of PE’s 10 great beaches. So grab that holiday calendar and get planning for a summer holiday to the Friendly City and let us know which beach is your favourite?