Best Things To Do In Port Elizabeth (South Africa) – Port Elizabeth, sometimes known as “PE” by locals, is South Africa’s third largest port and home to some of the country’s cleanest metropolitan beaches. Water sports range from surfing, swimming, sailing, and fishing to kiteboarding, windsurfing, and scuba diving, with more than 40 kilometers of coastline lapped by the crystalline seas of Algoa Bay.
Those who want to keep dry can take a harbor tour, where they may see whales such as humpbacks, Southern right whales, and Bryde’s whales, depending on the season. You’ve got yourself a holiday paradise when you combine its fascinating history, a vibrant city ambiance, and some really trendy cafés.
But it’s not all about the sea in Port Elizabeth. Route 67, the city’s art and heritage trail, showcases the intriguing and often turbulent history of this welcoming colonial city in its historic centre. Private game reserves and the famed Addo Elephant National Park in the neighboring area also entice wildlife enthusiasts with low-cost DIY and guided safaris.
When visiting Port Elizabeth, you will want to see the famous tourist attractions and learn about the local culture. You can certainly discover some of the top things to do in Port Elizabeth among other things to do in Port Elizabeth to make your adventure a memorable one.
Exploring Port Elizabeth attractions and seeing places of interest are some of the best things to do on a trip to Port Elizabeth. We are very certain our list of the best things to do in Port Elizabeth will help you find more things to do and see in this seaside city.
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Here are the best things to do in Port Elizabeth (South Africa):
If you want to mix a beach vacation with some culture, retail therapy, and delicious food, Port Elizabeth is the place to go. When it comes to keeping its visitors entertained, relaxed, and enjoying life, this friendly city goes all out.
1. Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow is a magical trail in the Maitland River Valley, located a few kilometers off the Blue Horizon Bay road. It is one of the few trails on private land.
The trails are short, but it’s easy to get lost (not literally, but figuratively) while exploring the old abandoned mine tunnels, swimming in the river pools, rock hopping up to the waterfall, and watching the Knysna Loeries slide into the Sleepy Hollow swemgat, while taking in the breathtaking views of the cliffs and forests.
2. Sardinia Bay Beach
The abundance of sand and surf locations on the “sunshine coast” is widely known. Above all, however, Sardinia Bay is most adored. Between Schoenmakerskop and Sea View, this magnificent beach may be reached by traveling along Sardinia Bay Road.
The suntan haven has picnicked facilities and is recognized for its near-perfect beach and closeness to the Sacramento hiking route. Building sandcastles is a must, although fishing is prohibited due to the Marine Reserve designation.
You can, however, snorkel and scuba dive to your heart’s content. Whether it’s long early morning walks with the dogs, safe swimming for the kids, kite-surfing perfection, or good old-fashioned ice cream on the beach, there’s something for everyone.
Port Elizabeth’s next-door neighbor, Uitenhage, is part of Nelson Mandela Bay. Cuyler Manor, a 200-year-old homestead that now serves as a museum, is worth a visit.
Another historical feature in Uitenhage is the Old Railway Station, which was erected in 1875 and is regarded as one of the oldest railway stations in South Africa. This museum has vintage locomotives, coaches, and historical furnishings and equipment on display.
The Cuyler Manor Museum is a living museum that hosts demonstrations of traditional crafts such as soap-making, candle-making, baking, and weaving. Uitenhage is also home to the Groendal Wilderness Reserve. The reserve is an ideal location for a trek or a picnic while listening to the birds sing.
4. Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park was established in 1931 to safeguard the surviving 11 elephants in the area. Today, the park is home to nearly 600 elephants as well as a variety of other species. This wonderful park contains the key seven vegetation zones, and it is the only park in the world to house the ‘African big 7’: elephant, lion, rhinoceros, buffalo, leopard, whale, and great white shark.
The Addo Elephant National Park has enlarged its boundaries from the Sundays River to Alexandria to include St Croix and Bird Island, which is a marine reserve and an important breeding area for gannets and penguins.
The Addo Elephant National Park is known not only for its famous Addo elephants, but also for the lush greenery that surrounds it, as well as the animals and birds that call it home. After Kruger National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Addo is the third largest national park in South Africa.
5. Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve
The Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve is a hiker’s dream come true. The 500-hectare area is roughly 35 kilometers west of Port Elizabeth and is most likely the greatest spot to see Proteas in the wild. It’s great because different flowers bloom at different times of the year, so there’s always something to see.
Easy short excursions through the fynbos, past the dams, or to the Arboretum and bird hide on the plateau, as well as longer hikes along the Forest and River routes that go down into the valley, are available. The majestic Van Stadens arch bridge may also be seen from some paths and picnic areas.
6. Route 67
Route 67 is a group of 67 public artworks that represent Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of service to South Africa’s liberation. It begins at the campanile below the Donkin Reserve, however rather than traveling the entire path, we recommend merely browsing the reserve’s artworks.
The Donkin Reserve is home to one of the world’s largest South African flags, which towers above a beautiful mosaic leading to a lighthouse and stone pyramid created by Sir Rufain Donkin for his wife Elizabeth, for whom the city is called. The voting line with Nelson Mandela at the helm is both evocative and dramatic, and be sure to get a photo with him.
Stroll around the park, where there are wonderful sculptures and outdoor art everywhere you look, and then cross the street to the Athenaeum and Fort Frederick.
You can download the Route 67 Brochure here!
7. Bushbuck Trail
You’d be forgiven if you started believing you were on the Garden Route while strolling along the Bushbuck Trail. The environment on the western side of Port Elizabeth differs significantly from that on the south and east, with Alexandria coastal woodlands featuring indigenous tree species such as Outeniqua Yellow wood, White and Hard Pear, and White Milk wood.
It’s the perfect place to refresh your soul by plugging it into the woodland outlet. You don’t have to be a tough hiker to enjoy the Bushbuck Trail, which offers five different distance options for everyone, from family strollers (900 meters), gentle walkers (5 kilometers), long-distance guys (7.5 kilometers), and ultra day hikers (a full 16 kilometers combining all the trails).
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8. Baakens Valley
The Baakens Valley is not just a great place to hike, but it’s also a favorite destination for trail runners and mountain bikers. The Baakens Valley is certainly Port Elizabeth’s natural urban treasure, and the Lower Guinea Fowl Trail, one of the nicest paths in the area, deserves more visitors.
The river on one side, wind in your face, wild flowers in bloom all around, guinea fowl calling in the bush nearby, and the rush of city life gently emptying out of you make you feel miles away in the center of nature. The fact that it is a 7,5-kilometer one-way track between Glen Hurd’s 3rd Avenue Dip and Settlers Park is a major disadvantage, so make sure you have transportation arranged and ready when you finish walking.
9. NMMU Nature Reserve
This is a perfect alternative for anyone wishing for a completely safe and secure atmosphere to walk around in. The 830-acre NMMU Nature Reserve is completely protected and accessible exclusively from the campus.
The Grysbok Trail offers two simple flat loops of around 2,5 and 3.5 kilometers, or a combination of the two, through coastal thicket and fynbos, with the possibility of seeing some game along the way. Try out Geocaching, a GPS treasure hunt game. There are around 35 caches hidden along the way.
10. Life With Lemon Coffee Shop
This is a lovely coffee shop, perfect for unwinding and relaxing. You must try their lemon juice, which comes “deconstructed” in the shape of a small bottle of lemon syrup and water, which you mix and then wonder where you’ve been all your life.
The nicest part for those with kids is that your kids can make their own bread there. It’s such a unique concept, and it’s around R20, making it a real bargain. They put out dough, egg wash, rollers, and cutters, and your child can go crazy creating fun forms that the restaurant bakes for them and serves warm with butter and jelly.
11. Science And Technology Center
The Science and Technology Center is another Uitenhage favorite. It really is a hidden gem. A little amount of money will transport you to a massive warehouse filled with intriguing interactive science experiments.
For adults and kids alike, construction can be learned by building a house, electricity can be learned by powering items with a bicycle, and air pressure can be learned by hovering above ground. Automotive, lights and optics, electricity, flight, momentum, life sciences, sound and game are the seven zones that make up the exhibition area. This is a must-visit for group outings, with a rock climbing wall and survivor/amazing-race-style games.
12. The Cape Recife Nature Reserve
The Roseate Tern Trail, which runs through the Cape Recife Nature Reserve for 9 kilometers, is possibly the most diverse of all the paths in the Port Elizabeth area.
It features a mix of coastline with shipwrecks on the reefs, reclamation ponds teeming with waterbirds, vegetated dunes providing shade, the remains of a World War II observation station and barracks, the historic Cape Recife Lighthouse (built in 1851), various marine birds along the coast, an unofficial nudist beach, and SAMREC.
The South African Marine Rehabilitation and Education Center is an excellent place to start and end your walk because it is an important part of the conservation campaign to conserve the endangered African penguin.
The center also offers a coffee shop where you can refuel before continuing on to your next activity for the day, but preferably not before taking a tour to learn more about the tuxedo’d feathered friends. Make sure you don’t forget your binoculars and bird book in the car, since the variety of birds along this walk is incredible.
13. Coastal Fynbos Trail
The Coastal Fynbos Trail begins at Sappershoek, east of the settlement, and runs along the land side of Marine Drive. Because of the poor soil quality, lower rainfall, underlying rock, and salty winds, most of the trail’s vegetation is fynbos.
The Cape Floral Kingdom, often known as Fynbos, contains over 9,000 plant species, and the Coastal Fynbos Trail is especially beautiful in the spring when many of them are flowering. The whole round track is about 7 kilometers long, but if you’re merely a “medium distance” walker, there is a shorter 4 kilometer option.
14. Picnic On The Beach
Whether you’re from the city or a local, you won’t be able to resist falling in love with Port Elizabeth’s white sand beaches. Take a walk along Shark Rock Pier to see if the dolphins are performing, or grab a cardboard box and construct a DIY sand board for the dunes of Maitland and Sardinia beaches.
Beaches are where holiday memories are built, and opting for a home-brought picnic rather than restaurants and takeout’s is not only healthier, but also more inexpensive So, what exactly are you waiting for? Grab your beach chair and sunscreen and head to the beach.
15. The Humpback Dolphin Trail
Port Elizabeth boast one of South Africa’s top city beachfront. It is clean, lovely, not overdeveloped, and enjoyable to walk about in. The beachside promenade runs from the Kings Beach parking lot to the lollipop beacon, passing by McArthur Pool, Bayworld, Humewood Beach with the old slipway, Shark Rock Pier, The Boardwalk, and all the surf spots.
It’s not unusual to observe bottlenose dolphins swimming by when taking an early morning walk or jog along the shoreline. After all, Port Elizabeth and Algoa Bay are the world’s bottlenose dolphin capital. The boardwalk leaves the main beachfront behind beyond the beacon and follows the coastline towards Cape Recife. Only a few people are aware that this part is known as the Humpback Dolphin Trail, and it offers some of the city’s best unbroken views of Algoa Bay.
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Best Beaches In Port Elizabeth (South Africa)
1. Blue Horizon Bay
This nearly secluded, limitless white beach conjures up visions of idyllic summer vacations spent wandering along the water’s edge with waves smashing in rhythm over your shoulder.
Holiday priorities include lazy days reading in the sun or evening clambers to the top of the dunes to catch the final rays of a brilliant sunset. If the need for shopping malls and bright lights becomes too strong, the city is only a short drive away.
2. Pollock Beach
Locals call this sandy corner the ‘Pipe’ because of the relatively consistent right and left beach breaks, as well as a parking lot only a few steps from the water’s edge and a great ablution block.
The swimming area is just in front of the Summer strand Surf Life Saving Club, ensuring that beach patrols and lifeguards are present at all times. It’s actually not all about surfing through the natural rock pools, snorkeling areas, and plenty of space to create gigantic sandcastles. On those great beach days, it might get a touch crowded towards the further end. It’s also right across the street from the Summer strand retail center, which has all of your last-minute beach snacks and drinks.
3. Beachview Beach
A short distance down the coast is the community of Beach view, which has a 180-degree view of the ocean from nearly every residence. This rocky shore beach, often known as the ‘wild side’ or ‘windward’ side, is ideal for family trips with the kids. With several strong currents and backwash, the beach is not suited for swimming, but with endless rock pools, shells, and stones to inspect, you will be entertained.
If it gets too windy, drive a little further down the road to Sea view and enjoy a delicious supper at Barnacles while watching everyone else fight the wind.
4. Hobie Beach
This blue flag beach, known as the Clifton of Port Elizabeth, has everything going for it, unless you don’t like crowds. The scenic Shark Rock Pier is located to the left of this beach, which is perhaps the most popular in Port Elizabeth. As a result of its development, a sand-trapped shoreline was constructed, providing the ideal swimming and sunbathing playground.
The beach is surrounded by restaurants, a promenade, ice cream stores, diving operators, and even a boat launch facility, and is the site of the famed Splash festival. People wander along the pier all the time, staring down into the enticing ocean below. After a long day in the sun, head to Barney’s bar, one of PE’s oldest enterprises, for a sundowner.
5. King’s Beach
King’s Beach, like Hobie Beach, is one of PE’s most popular and crowded beaches. This 1.6-kilometer stretch of sand is also a Blue Flag beach, which means it is beautiful, safe, and environmentally friendly. With the McArthur’s Baths Pool Complex located on the shore, this is the greatest place to bring your energetic kids.
Water slides, open-air fresh water pools, a training pool, plus numerous stores and kiosks to keep the family fueled all day are all on the menu. This is a full-fledged family fun destination, including mini-golf, go-karting, and even some lush green grass to picnic on.
6. Blue Water Bay
If the bustle and excitement of the city beaches is too much for you, travel up the coast to Blue Water Bay for a beautiful stretch of sand. You might wander for kilometers along this beach, conversing with the many anglers pursuing the large Kabeljou and Steenbras that inhabit these waters.
Windsurfers can either tackle the Flat Water stretch of the Swartkops River or head into the large surf for some ‘Wild Side’ surfing. Although there are lifeguards on duty, this region is noted for its dangerous, giant surf.
7. Humewood Beach
This secluded stretch of sand, Port Elizabeth’s oldest blue flag beach, is a favorite sunbathing destination for those who don’t like sand in their sandwiches. It is located between the popular Hobie and King’s beaches and across from the well-known Happy Valley Park.
It’s another family favorite, with plenty of rock pools, snorkeling sites, and fishing areas, as well as lifeguards on duty at all times.
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Though Port Elizabeth is the Eastern Cape’s main travel hub, travelers visit the city because of its proximity to some amazing national parks as well as historic sites, rather than the city’s beauty. Port Elizabeth is a little grubby and industrial but it has a cheerful, inviting atmosphere and a beautiful coastline.
The various good adventures outside of the city significantly outnumber the city’s attractions. Port Elizabeth is also close to some of the best game reserves in the world. However, the city itself has some enjoyable attractions, especially for families with children.
The city of Port Elizabeth reflects South Africa with its diversified vegetation, hiking trails, historic heritage, and diverse animals. You can go to the park for an outing or a stroll just to see and do a variety of things to relieve tension and keep yourself entertained.
The Eastern Cape offers a diverse range of activities. There is much to keep you entertained, from water sports to wildlife viewing. While visiting Port Elizabeth, we strongly advise you to follow our list of the best things to do in Port Elizabeth in order to have a wonderful adventure.