Add JBay to your South African travel itinerary

Your South African travel itinerary can encompass so much, it can be hard to know where to start. There are vast mountain ranges and two oceans, deserts and lush greenery, metropolitan cities and quiet villages, game reserves and golf estates. With so much to do and see in the country, why add the unassuming town of Jeffreys Bay to your South African travel itinerary?

South Africa has the third longest coastline of the African countries. Naturally, the country has a myriad of coastal cities, towns and villages. Some are bustling and flashy, and others are more subdued and unpretentious. Jeffreys Bay, or simply JBay, is known for its iconic waves and lively beach culture. But there is so much more to this vibrant seaside town on South Africa’s Sunshine Coast.

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Bergrivier Eco Retreat stay and hike

You know those times when you poured water into your mug but forgot to boil the kettle first, or you have water ‘boiling’ on the stove, but the stove isn’t on. At the end of last year we felt like that constantly. Daniel was away a lot, travelling for work, and I had deadlines to meet for my PhD. Stress levels were too damn high, so we looked online for an escape that was close by and affordable. Fortunately, we found an amazing deal on SafariNow for a stay at Bergrivier Eco Retreat (50 km outside Port Elizabeth on the way to Jeffreys Bay). We booked for the next available weekend and counted down the days to our stay. For the next week, we smiled a little more feeling that new trip thrill. Continue reading Bergrivier Eco Retreat stay and hike

Treehouse Cottage in The Crags

 

In this post, we will take you on an adventure to the Treehouse Cottage in The Crags (Western Cape). We booked the treehouse via Booking.com and were not disappointed. The hosts were friendly and willing to assist wherever possible. The middle of the year is an expensive time for us because we celebrate our birthdays in June and our wedding anniversary in August. The treehouse was the perfect weekend getaway for our anniversary.

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Thunzi Bush Lodge stay and picnic

 

After an unforgettable experience at the off the grid tipi in Knysna for my birthday (see post here), a romantic weekend at the four-star Thunzi Bush Lodge was a great addition to our birthday month! Thunzi Bush Lodge is a mere 30 minutes from central Port Elizabeth, in the direction of Jeffreys Bay (see posts here and here). The experience at the lodge was perfection. We have recommended it to our family and friends, as we will definitely be returning at some point.

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Off the grid Knysna tipi accommodation

 

My gorgeous wife, Jordan, surprised me with a truly amazing and well thought-out birthday present – We were heading to an off the grid Knysna tipi accommodation. As we mentioned in our previous blog post: we regularly choose experiences over material things. Jordan knows how much I love the forest, having grown up close to one in Germany. The childhood memories in the forest (riding bicycles, playing hide and seek, looking for treasures) are some of my most dear. So when Jordan said that she found a tipi (completely off the grid) in the Knysna forest for us, I was already packing my bag before I knew any other details.

And what an unforgettable experience it was.

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Umlambo River Lodge

 

When it comes to gifts for birthdays, weddings and other special occasions, more and more of our friends look for experiences over material things. We are no different. We are blessed with incredible friends who gifted us with a nights stay at Umlambo River Lodge. It was a tranquil stay along the Sundays River that allowed a respite from city life and a chance to reconnect with ourselves and each other.

The Greater Addo area is one of the less ‘discovered’ areas of the Eastern Cape. There is a lot on offer (both in activities and panoramas) and there are hidden gems scattered across the region. In our opinion, Umlambo River Lodge is definitely one of the gems of the area.

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Coastal retreat in Cape St Francis

 

Welcome to the natural beauty of the sleepy coastal town known as Cape St Francis, only an eight minute drive from St Francis Bay (see our post here). This place is a perfect laidback, barefoot, beachside getaway. It offers expansive beaches with great waves and scenic hikes.

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Everything you need to know about St Francis Bay

 

We have crossed the Kromme River bridge multiple times and are always happy when we do. Over the bridge are two small coastal Eastern Cape towns: St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis. Despite their proximity to each other, they are remarkably different. The towns are about a 30 minute drive (less than 40 km) from the surfing mecca Jeffreys Bay, and less than an hour from Port Elizabeth (~110 km).

We have both been fortunate to work in great locations for our post-graduate studies. For my Master of Science (MSc) research, I (Daniel) assessed the developmental and environmental changes on the St Francis/Cape St Francis peninsula over a 60 year period. We have spent many months in these little towns walking their beaches. Over two blog posts, we will share the towns’ stories, starting with St Francis Bay.

History and housing

The town grew quickly from a fishing village to a popular tourist destination. The Hulett family moved to the bay in the mid-1950s and brought development with them. In 1978, the name “St Francis Bay” was publically decided upon. There is a heritage centre in Harbour Road that outlines the history of the town. While in the town, look out for roads that were named after Hulett family members, e.g. Nevil Road, Ann Avenue and Phillippa’s Place.

The Huletts wanted to keep the ‘fishing-village look’ for the area. The houses follow a specified architecture: white walls and grey thatched roofing (recently grey tiles have been accepted because of major damages caused by fires).

The Canals were developed at the mouth of the Kromme River to bring a mini-Venice to the coast (photos above). A man-made spit separates the front houses from the ocean. Today, the upmarket properties on The Canals are highly sought after. Boat cruises and water sports (e.g. kite and windsurfing, jet skiing) are common in the Canals and up the Kromme. Every year there is a two-day swim (~12 km) downstream to the river mouth. Only swimmers that were invited may swim in the Kromme River Descent.

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Beaches and surfing

St Francis Bay and beach holiday are synonymous. The little town comes alive during the summer months and holidays. The peninsula is a popular summer getaway. The narrow beach is wonderful during low tides. It becomes deeper very gradually so you can still stand quite far out (something that we both like) (first photo). However, the St Francis beaches are (and have been for years) severely eroding. There are stone revetments along the coastline to protect the roads and houses from the waves (second photo). During high tides, the waves cover the entire beach (third photo). In the past, there has been significant damage to infrastructure from storm wave action. Whether there is beach sand or not, we have seen bathers and surfers still enjoying the water – just watch yourself on the rocks though!

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If you are looking for a surf spot, head to Bruce’s Beauties. The area gained popularity after the movie The Endless Summer (released in the ’60s). In recent years, some surfers find Bruce’s unreliable for good waves. But when the waves pump, they pump. Best time of year for surfing is May – September.

Fishing

Fishing is a popular activity on the peninsula. We regularly see fisherman on the beach. During one of my field campaigns, there was an angling competition. There are also deep sea fishing expeditions that you can join throughout the year.

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Harbour and look out point

Port St Francis was built in the mid-1990s. There are restaurants overlooking the small harbour that naturally offer great seafood (first photo). Chokka boats routinely fish at night (the small lit up boats on the ocean) so fresh calamari is always available. One point to remember if you plan to eat the local chokka: it is much chewier than other calamari. We have been lucky enough to see otters along the Port area (second photo). Unfortunately, we haven’t seen them in years.

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The lookout point is further down the road from the Port (it is signposted). There are benches where you can enjoy the views of the Seal Point Lighthouse to the Groot Winterhoek mountains. It’s a great picnic spot or sundowners spot that was developed by the St Francis Kromme Trust.

St Francis Bay market

There is a market on the last Saturday of every month (9 am – noon). In December the market happens each Saturday before Christmas. Local entrepreneurs sell a variety of goods: fresh produce, crafts, artwork, and other bits and bobs.

Address: 167 St Francis Drive. In and around shopping areas.

Golf courses

Enjoy a round of golf? There are two golf courses. The St Francis Bay Golf Club is in the town, while the St Francis Links Golfing Estate is just outside the town. The Links is the newer of the two. Both courses are popular with locals and tourists alike.

Sand River and Oyster Bay Headland Bypass Dunefield (OBHBD)

After the Kromme River bridge, you will pass over another smaller bridge that crosses the Sand River. The Sand River drains the eastern section of the OBHBD. This seemingly small and insignificant river is ephemeral with the typical minimal (if any) flow. However, when this river floods it is powerful and devastating. Draining and flowing through the dunefield means that when the river floods, it brings sand and debris with it. In 2012 the Sand River bridge collapsed during a flood and left the peninsula towns isolated for a few days. The bridge has since been rebuilt.

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There is a hike up the Sand River, into the OBHBD to Oyster Bay. The hike is a full-day hike (~8 hrs) and can be quite strenuous (the dunes can be tiring!). Any artefacts found in the dunefield are to be left there, by law.

We definitely think this little town is worth a visit. See the second blog post on Cape St Francis, here.

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Jeffreys Bay: Surfers Paradise

 

Jeffreys Bay (JBay) is a small unassuming town in the Eastern Cape that has attracted surfers and beach lovers for years. This little town will always hold a special place in our hearts because it is one of the places where we fell in love 💛 We hope that this introduction to the bay will inspire you to make a trip here soon!

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The Striptease Hike in Tsitsikamma

Welcome to The Timeless Voyagers blog! We are so excited you are here. This is our first blog post and we are privileged to share our travels with you. We thought about our first post for a long time – how to best introduce ourselves and share our passions with perfect strangers (just joking – hey moms!). We decided to share our engagement story. A story of international love between a German and a South Africa, surrounded by nature on the Striptease Hike in Tsitsikamma. 

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