The Eastern Cape is a treasure featuring natural beauty, rolling hills, unique beaches, dense forests, diverse wildlife, and amicable people. It stretches from the Tsitsikamma National Park in the south to Port Edward in the north. The Eastern Cape has a breathtaking coastline extending to 800 km. The coastline includes a range of golden beaches, incredible natural beauty and enchanting attractions.
The province is also famous for great surfing in Jeffreys Bay. Further inland, you can find the Addo Elephant National Park, 72 kilometres from Port Elizabeth. The park is renowned for the Big 7: lion, leopard, African buffalo, elephant, rhino, great white shark, and southern right whale.
The Eastern Cape also features various activities that fit everyone’s interests. As for accommodation, there are multiple hotels at different rates to suit any budget.
Top Attractions in the Eastern Cape
Let’s check some of the attractions and the best activities in the Eastern Cape:
Jeffreys Bay Surf Break
Jeffreys Bay is among the best surfing waves on the African continent. The spot has many names: J-Bay, Jeffreys Bay, Jeffreysbaai, Jay Bay, and others.
J-Bay contributed to the world’s champions and surf icons. So, people consider it a training ground for many generations of surfers. These surfers include Shaun Tomson, Mark Occhilupo, and Mark Price.
Besides the excellent surfing conditions, the town of J-Bay is charming and lively. It has what it takes for a successful surf trip. Beginner surfers can easily find a surf school to learn the sport.
Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Jeffreys Bay
Visitors can reserve a standup paddleboarding tour on the Jeffreys Bay lagoon. You do not have to be professional, as it is available for all levels. Enjoy navigating the waters and watching local wildlife, such as flamingos and water birds, in the close nature reserve.
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is the first of this kind in Africa. The canopy tour features zip-lining from one platform to another on a steel cable suspended up to 30 metres above the forest floor.
You can explore the secrets of the breathtaking wilderness of the Tsitsikamma Indigenous forest. Once you enter the forest, you will find hard-pear trees, giant yellow woods, and exquisite tree ferns. They date back hundreds of years as other fascinating forest flora.
Bungee Jump with Zipline and Sky Walk, Tsitsikamma
Visitors can try a lifetime experience and jump from Africa’s highest bridge with a professional team with a 100% safety record. You can reach the jump point through a zip line from the bank to the arch.
Before jumping, you are equipped with a full-body harness, and your feet are secured by specially designed equipment. Jump out into the valley and feel the great excitement of falling.
Segway Tour, Tsitsikamma National Park
Visitors can book a guided tour from Stormsriver aboard a two-wheeled, balanced, rechargeable, personal Segway. The good thing is that the whole family can enjoy this safe and fun adventure. You will start with a training session and discover the local village and the forest.
On the one-hour tour, you will glide through the adventurous village and onto a forest road heading deep into the pristine Tsitsikamma Indigenous forest. The two-hour Segway tour also takes you through Stromsriver Village and into the cool evergreen forests.
The Storms River Suspension Bridge
The Storms River Suspension Bridge is among the most popular attractions in Tsitsikamma National Park. It stretches from Eastern Cape to the Western Cape. It is a stunning coastal reserve currently part of Garden Route National Park.
The 77-metre-long bridge spans the waters of the Storms River mouth, which whirl less than seven metres below the bridge while they merge with the Indian Ocean. Standing on the bridge makes you feel like you are floating above the threshing sea.
To reach the bridge, visitors hike through 900 metres of stunning bird-rich forests with waterfalls and many lookouts stops to rest while enjoying the sea views.
Two smaller suspension bridges take hikers back to the path for their return journey. After the 30-minute rewarding hike, hungry hikers can refuel at the nearby lodge restaurant.
The Valley of Desolation
The Valley of Desolation is located in Camdeboo National Park. It is among the most remarkable natural features of the Eastern Cape. The access road rises to 1,500 metres and ends at a parking space with well-preserved footpaths to panoramic views along the cliff face.
You can enjoy stunning views of towering dolomite rock pillars and the surrounding wilderness, where the varied light plays upon the vast landscapes. The semi-desert landscapes of the Great Karoo are located to the south, while Graaff-Reinet and the impressive peaks of the Sneeuberg Mountains are located to the north.
Wildlife in the park is plentiful and diverse. Visitors can notice many species of birds and mammals, such as the Cape buffalo, kudu, springbok, and the bat-eared fox.
The nearby town of Graaff-Reinet has to be at the top of the must-visit list. It features revived Karoo-style homes and historic structures. It also features the Reinet House, a former residence in Cape Dutch style. The Reinet House became a museum with an extensive collection of 18th- and 19th-century furniture and farming tools, as well as a puppet collection from the First World War.
The Wild Coast
South Africa’s Wild Coast stretches north of East London. It is a land of breathtaking beauty. Also, it features ragged sea cliffs, windblown beaches, subtropical forests, and hills covered in golden grass. They border the Eastern Cape’s northern coast, from the Mtamvuna River north to the Great Kei River south.
The ideal way to explore this wild and remote region is via a 4WD vehicle. If you are an adventure lover, you can hike along walking tracks, join the local villages, or uncover the area on horseback. Some popular attractions include the famous Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve and the Hole in the Wall, a natural arch inscribed by thrashing surf.
Many visitors stay in towns such as Coffee Bay and Morgan Bay and wander out into the surrounding nature for outdoor fun. These activities include ocean and river fishing, wildlife exploring in the various nature reserves, snorkelling, and diving along the reefs and shipwrecks. Birding is also incredible, with over 320 species recorded in the area.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park lies around 72 kilometres to the north of Port Elizabeth. It is South Africa‘s third-largest national park. It was built in 1931 to protect the remaining 11 South African bush elephants from extinction. Currently, it provides a habitat for over 600 elephants and many other enchanting creatures.
The park also has offshore islands, which are habitats for species of Cape gannets and African penguins. Due to the park’s diversity of ecosystems, it is the only national park in the world to save the Big 5 (elephant, rhino, Cape buffalo, lion, and leopard), the great white shark, and the southern right whale.
If you love wildlife, you can watch antelope, zebras, an impressive collection of birds, and night animals, like anteaters, porcupines, and bush pigs. Visitors can also book guided tours for other adventures, including hiking trails and horse riding.
You are free to explore the wilderness in your vehicle or take a guided tour. Overnight, tourists can stay in chalets, cottages, or campsites.
Mountain Zebra National Park
The park offers nature lovers the luck to see a fascinating collection of wildlife against the magnificent mountain scenery. The park was founded in 1937 to secure the survival of the Cape mountain zebra. It lies 24 kilometres southwest of Cradock, with peaks up to 2,000 metres.
Besides a healthy population of Cape mountain zebras, smaller than their typical peers, the park is also a habitat for springbok, lions, kudus, cheetahs, caracals, jackals, Cape buffalo, black rhinos, and various species of birds. Lucky visitors might also take a look at the shy aardwolf.
Thorny acacias, wild olives, and sumac distinguish the dry and rocky landscapes. The broad grasslands bordering the driving route allow views of feeding wildlife. You can also view the San (Bushman) paintings, which go back around 300 years ago. In addition, you can try different activities, including hiking the natural trails, paddling in the park’s swimming pools, and exploring the 4WD tracks.
You can also tour the park in your 2WD vehicle. Accommodation varies from a guest house to family chalets and campsites, all with access to an A La Carte restaurant and a shop.
Port Elizabeth Beaches
Port Elizabeth is a well-known tourist town at the end of the Garden Route. It features over 40 kilometres of pure and safe surf-washed beaches along lively Algoa Bay. So, water sports are a favourite amusement there.
Swimmers can paddle at a collection of beaches with coveted Blue Flag status, awarded for good water quality and safety, including Kings Beach. King Beach is one of the most famous beaches due to its close restaurants and skate park.
You can also choose Wells Estate Beach, with water slides and a paddling pool, or Humewood Beach. Pollock Beach is ideal for surfing, while SCUBA divers and snorkelers can engage themselves in the underwater world at stunning Sardinia Bay, which is located in a marine reserve.
Bluewater Bay and Brighton Beach are excellent for fishing. At the same time, Hobie Beach is the perfect spot for swimming and windsurfing. Visitors can also enjoy the coast on board a whale-watching cruise depending on the time of year. It is also possible to spot Bryde’s whales, migrating humpbacks, and Southern right whales.
- River Cruise on the Sundays River, Port Elizabeth
Visitors can book a river cruise along the magnificent Sundays River moving past the Alexandria Coastal Dune field and various local birdlife feeding in their natural home.
The cruise stops at one of the highest dunes, where you can see spectacular bay views.
Best Restaurants in Eastern Cape
If you are a healthy food lover, then Backstreet Grill is your perfect destination. They serve fresh ingredients since they always look for top-notch quality dinner. We also recommend the steakhouse and grill dishes. To enjoy your favourite dish for dinner, just head to 15 Stanley Street, Richmond Hill St, Port Elizabeth, from Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
If you are thinking of having a unique dining experience in a friendly atmosphere, we recommend Muse Restaurant. It is among the top-rated restaurants in Eastern Cape, located at 1B Stanley Street, Richmond Hill Street, Port Elizabeth. Allan and Simone Bezuidenhout are a married couple who own and run the restaurant. The restaurant serves European, contemporary, fusion, and healthy cuisine. Caramel fondant is a super tasty dessert we recommend trying. You can treat yourself to a delightful dish at this restaurant from Tuesday through Saturday from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM.
Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant
Special events require special dining. Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant has all that it takes for fine dining. You can find it at Ferreira Street Dolphin Beach, Jeffreys Bay. The food and service are exceptional there. Line fish with mash is second to none. You will fall head over nails with cheesecake as dessert. Customers are welcome from Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Brewhaha Craft Beer Restaurant
Brewhaha Craft Beer Restaurant is a cut above the rest since it serves craft beers. It is also famous for top-notch dishes, like steak and delicious espetada beef. Since kids are in the heart, they can have fun in the play area while you enjoy your favourite drink. Its friendly staff always welcomes customers at 20 Da Gama Road, Jeffreys Bay, every day from 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM.
Sticky Fingers Woodfire Kitchen
Sticky Fingers Woodfire Kitchen combines both marvel service along with excellent food. BBQ meat is at the top of the menu as the majority of customers highly recommend it. Cooking in the open air adds to the speciality of the place. It is one of the top restaurants in the Eastern Cape despite not being a big one. You can take the whole family to Webber Street, South End, Port Elizabeth and enjoy a meal full of flavours. All customers are welcome from Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 PM to 11:00 PM.
Sanook Cafe is known for its friendly staff and relaxing atmosphere. They always aim for customer satisfaction. You can enjoy a meal with fresh ingredients any time, from Tuesday through Saturday, from 8:30 AM to 10:30 PM. They have an extensive menu of sublime dishes. In this restaurant, money is worth the value of the service.
Graze by the River
Graze by the River is a real find offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and brunch. The menu has a variety of delights, such as English Scone with cream and homemade Marmelade, the fresh Cob in a delicate cream, and calamari salad. They cook food with passion and love, so the restaurant is top-rated. You can follow the link to check the working hours for a one of a time experience.
SUKI Sushi & Asian Cuisine
Are you a sushi lover? SUKI Sushi and Asian Cuisine serves fantastic sushi. It is famous for its fresh ingredients, excellent service, and friendly staff. You have a lot of exceptional dishes to choose from, such as sizzling beef, rainbow platter, noodles, and chicken, along with starters and desserts. People’s reviews also recommend wine and cocktails. It opens from Sunday to Saturday from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM.
Best Hotels in the Eastern Cape
Samara Karoo Reserve
Samara Karoo Reserve is the right destination for a magical time. You can enjoy a bespoke experience at Samara Mara, where you can get up close with animals. It is a habitat for 225 bird species and 65 mammal species, including endangered and desert-adapted wilderness. Safari guides exceed expectations; they are knowledgeable and patient as well.
It is renowned for its scenic landscape, charming lodge, and excellent service. The staff is friendly and welcoming. After a long day full of activities, you can soak in a hot bubble bath and relax. Then, you can enjoy a top-notch dinner at the restaurant. Finally, it is a place where you can create wonderful memories.
Hitgeheim Country Lodge
Hitgeheim Country Lodge offers the most exciting and memorable experience. Rooms are clean, spacious, and air-conditioned, with stunning views of the magnificent landscape. We recommend booking a well-planned safari and experiencing unforgettable excursions. The hotel also offers various amenities, including free parking, high-speed internet, complimentary breakfast, and airport transportation.
Visitors have access to the pool, so you can splash and have a great time. They offer top-notch food, and they have a welcoming staff. You will get to try a wide variety of delicious dishes and learn about the historical and geographical roots of the food. The atmosphere is cosy and lively. Hitgeheim has it all for a perfect stay.
Get a great taste of nature at Camp Figtree. You can enjoy the silence and the overwhelming nature all around the place. You can book a luxurious stay and enjoy a private pool with your family. It is known for its professional staff that accommodates the guests’ requests and needs. The hotel has a spectacular location where you can easily access Addo elephant park.
It is a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life with relaxing accommodations. Rooms are authentically decorated and equipped with comfortable beds and a bath or shower. The fees are worth the value.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Port Elizabeth
Radisson Blu Hotel is one of the top-rated hotels in the Eastern Cape. It is renowned for its breathtaking sea view. It is the ideal destination for a relaxing vacation. The staff is so pleasant as they welcome the guests with warm greetings.
Accommodation is one of the best; rooms are spacious and equipped with air conditioning, comfortable bed and other facilities to make your stay special. The restaurant serves delicious meals with top-notch service. This hotel is a cut above the rest.
Royal St Andrews Hotel
Royal St Andrews Hotel always goes beyond expectations. It is one of the top-rated hotels offering the best service along with a professional and generous staff. It is the ideal getaway to recharge and enjoy some tranquil time. You can relax in the spa bath and get a cup of fine wine after a long day.
The hotel presents outdoor activities like horse riding and boat rides. When it comes to food, the restaurant is renowned for delicious food and good wine at a reasonable price. Whether you are on a business trip or a family vacation, head to Royal St Andrews and treat yourself to the most enjoyable stay.
The Eastern Cape has what it takes for a beautiful and relaxing stay. Visitors can make the best out of every single moment they spend there. They can also enjoy some outdoor activities and explore the unique attractions. Are you ready to plan your next trip to the Eastern Cape?