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.
Life on the beach and in the waves
The beach-surf-lifestyle defines JBay’s identity, and honestly, rightly so. The long stretch of beaches welcomes sunbathers, ocean swimmers, shell enthusiasts, and fitness lovers alike.
In the summer months, you will find people on the beaches from first light to dusk. Dolphin (Main) Beach is the perfect spot for families. You can swim happily in the waves with the lifesavers dutifully on watch. To get everyone on holiday involved, why not join in a game of beach volleyball or football? And afterwards, become a part of the beloved surfing culture while learning to surf in one of the world’s best surf spots.
The winter months bring the best waves and the spirit of the town shines brightly. The annual Jeffreys Bay Winterfest creates an incredible eclectic fusion of sports competitions and music events, with the highly anticipated Corona JBay Open as the highlight. The sporting events include fishing, motorcross, trail running and bowls. Add in comedy shows and live music events, and you have a great mix of activities to look forward to. Put on your windbreaker and beanie and immerse yourself in the festive feelings.
JBay in the summer is a colourfully animated town awash with cheerfulness. JBay in the winter is a vibey mix of people enjoying nature’s gifts and good company. So, what about Autumn and Spring? During these months, JBay is less touristy which makes it a terrific getaway ‘out of the big city’. You will still see people while on your beach walks and the surfers are always out. JBay ‘out of season’ will enchant you with its quiet charm and laid-back nature.
Food on the table
The food scene in Jeffreys Bay is impressive! From fresh seafood options in abundance to flavourful meat dishes and delicious vegan meals – there really is something for everyone! JBay is wonderfully blessed with delicious and affordable dining options you would expect in bigger cities.
Seriously, take a break from the restaurant chains you know and try the local eateries. Chat to the JBay locals for recommendations and specials or comment below if you’re looking for something specific. Though honestly, you can stroll down JBay’s main road (Da Gama Road) and choose from the restaurants and bars with little chance of going wrong. You can dine out in your flip flops one night and put on formal shoes the next. The style for each night can be something different; your eating experiences can change with your moods. This little town even has its own brewery!
Some of our favourites include: Kitchen Windows, Ninas, Viswijf, Piacere.
Coffee shops are perfect places to unwind with friends and family when you are settling into this down-to-earth seaside town. In recent years, the JBay coffee culture has grown with great coffee shops found across the town. Supporting local is the best thing you can do when travelling. You’re supporting families and the community. And these coffee shops really put a lot of love into their work.
Being a surf town, catching waves before heading to work is the norm for many locals. There are coffee shops that open almost as early as the surfers hit the water. Find your caffeine fix throughout the day, adding in a sweet treat like waffles and cookies.
Some of our favourites include: First Light, Machine, Fifth Wave, and Infood.
A place to rest
Accommodation options are everywhere in JBay, and they cover a range of budgets. There are guesthouses, self-catering units, lodges, and a popular camping/caravan park. Most accommodations are 3-stars and up, with many being family-friendly. After a day out and about, you will be sure to find a homely and comfortable place to sleep.
If you’re looking for accommodation and surf lessons (with some yoga in between), we suggest Surf Lodge South Africa in Paradise Beach. The lodge owner is a JBay local who knows all the best spots in town. The lodge covers different budgets too: you can book a private room or take a bed in the dorm. It’s a fun environment where you can meet travellers from around the world.
People make a place
Jeffreys Bay is no different to other small towns in that everyone practically knows everyone. And if they don’t personally know someone, they will know someone who does! News moves through the town almost as fast as the surfers catch the waves.
But when it comes down to it, the folk here have no airs and graces; loving the uncomplicatedness of life in JBay. You share smiles and side comments with strangers in the shopping line and jokes with the person serving your table. It’s common for people to go about their day with salty hair and sandy feet. The towns people love animals, with people walking their dogs on the beaches and streets. They are happy to share their little piece of heaven with you, so keep it clean. Take some time and do a mini beach cleanup.
Everything else in between
For days when you aren’t at the beach, there is a shell museum, shopping malls, a casino, surf village, skate park, and nightclubs. Along the beachfront, there is mini golf (‘putt putt’), a water slide, jungle gyms, and a basketball court. You can splash around at the lagoon as well. To do something a bit different, you can go horseback riding on the beach. The Milkwood Market takes place every Saturday and is filled with locally sourced and homemade products.
If you’re wanting to explore a bit more, the nearby towns are great outings with their own attractions (like the Spa in Humansdorp, the canals in St Francis Bay, expansive beaches in Cape St Francis, Lady Slipper hike in Port Elizabeth).
One of the best things about Jeffreys Bay is that it can be whatever you want your getaway to be. It’s the perfect place for a seaside vacation fused with good food and friendly people. You can keep your holiday laid back or fill it with activities. When you add Jeffreys Bay to your South African travel itinerary, you will create memories that last a lifetime. We would love to know your favourite things about JBay. Let us know in the comments or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.