ROAD TRIPPING: 48 HOURS ALONG ROUTE 72 ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
Friday, 29th June 2018
By Anje Rautenbach
There’s always a weekend just around the corner. Come Monday, and Friday will follow, and if you’re based in Port Elizabeth you bet your sweet weekend that Fridays come filled with promises of quick 48 hour escapes.
Whether you want to head east, north or west (or south if you’re up for an ocean cruise), there’s something for you and the whole family within an hour or two of the Bay; adventure, relaxation, wildlife, budget spots and luxurious escapes, you name it and the Eastern Cape has it.
One place I highly recommend for a quick winter break is the Sunshine Coast, with its long stretches of sandy beaches, rivers and history, so why not wave the city adieu and venture onto Route 72 for a bit of seaside fun and sunshine? The distances between a lot of the seaside villages and towns on Route 72 – such as Cannon Rocks, Boknes, Kenton-on-Sea and Port Alfred – are short so you can either base yourself in one spot for the weekend or wake up with a different view every morning. Some are so close together, you can even walk from one to the other one (tide permitting).
YOUR FIRST FARM STALL STOP
Nanaga Farm Stall has been on everyone’s lips and in everyone’s mouths for nearly half a century; the business started from the boot of a car, grew into a little stall, and as the demand got bigger, it made another move in 2008 - where the road splits between the N2, N10 and R72 - and it has been standing strong and farm fresh ever since. Roosterkoek and pies are everyone’s go-to here; make sure to pick up a few extra pieces of roosterkoek for either the braai or for breakfast. And get a bottle of Night Shade jam while you’re at it.
Image: Sarina Engelbrecht
MAKE A DETOUR
Fueled up on a Nanaga breakfast, hop onto Route72 towards Port Alfred, but don’t get too comfortable as a detour is just waiting to wow you with its landscape and ocean views. Less than 200 metres before you reach Alexandria, take a right onto a well-maintained dirt road towards Woody Cape and enjoy a drive through coastal forests, with possible sightings of the Knysna Turaco; after 15 km turn right to Woody Cape Nature Lodge to get a good view of the largest coastal dune field in the Southern Hemisphere (albeit close to Port Elizabeth, this can be an overnight spot). Get back on the winding dirt road and continue navigate your way through dairy farms with rolling hills on one side and seascapes, including Bird Island, on the other. It's postcard-worthy, so don’t forget to stop for a photo. Just 17 km after Woody Cape Nature Lodge, take a right turn towards Cannon Rocks.
Image: Anje Rautenbach
FIND A SHIPWRECK
Welcome to Cannon Rocks; a little seaside village, home to one of the best kitesurfing spots in the world. If winter prohibits you from dipping your toes in the Indian Ocean, stop in front of Roes Restaurant and walk to the beach front towards the small piece that is left of the Hallelujah-20 shipwreck that ran aground in the nineties (low tide is the best time to go). If you are a keen camper, pitch your tent at the five-star Cannon Rocks Holiday Resort.
Image: Anje Rautenbach
TAKE A HISTORICAL WALK AT BOKNES
Trot along the footsteps of ocean explorer, Bartholomew Dias, and drive to Boknes beach (just 4 km from Cannon Rocks). A short sandy walk of about 3 km will bring you to a Dias Cross, one of the three crosses that were erected during Dias’ journey to Africa. If you are an avid fisherman, join the Boknes locals and throw a line in the water from the shore.
ENJOY A SUNDOWNER
You have to "cheers" to a day well spent on Route 72. Enjoy a sundowner on Kenton-on-Sea’s Sandbar floating restaurant (known for having some of the best prawns you can get your fingers on) or go on a peaceful boat cruise on the Kariega River.
MAKE TIME FOR ADVENTURE
The Sunshine Coast is known for having the most hours of sunshine a year in South Africa, and with more or less 322 days of sunshine a year, you have an open invitation to make the most of it! Mountain biking, golfing, sandboarding, hiking, boat rides, canoeing and horse riding are just some of the activities on offer in and around Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea and since it is winter, the Southern right whales are also in town. Private Game Reserves along the Sunshine Coast offer game drives (for guests and non-guests) through big five territory, plus if you are a birder you’ll definitely want to pack your binoculars as guided birding tours are popular in the area thanks to the biodiversity of estuaries, forest, subtropical thicket, fynbos and grassland.
GRAB A BITE
If you’re a foodie at heart and enjoy wine pairing and meals others find difficult to pronounce, then put on your fancy shoes and enjoy a fine-dining experience at the Royal St. Andrews Hotel in Port Alfred, or alternatively sit down for a meal at the Highlander Pub. Route 72 also has a variety of casual dining options that make excellent use of the ocean and river views and local seafood. Woodlands Cottage's aquaponics farm produces the most incredible organic veggies and Port Alfred's "Little Brewery on the River" is always worth a visit.
IN THE MORNING
The Sunshine Coast catches some of the first morning rays and, in winter, you don’t have to get up ridiculously early to enjoy the break of a new day; stroll along the beach at Kenton-on-Sea, and enjoy the sunrise hues against the backdrop of the Carriage Rock formation landmark.
VENTURE A BIT FURTHER
Have a few more hours left of your 48-hour weekend adventure? Well, even though Bathurst is not on Route 72 it is just 15 km from Port Alfred and you can enjoy local arts and crafts, a farmer’s market on Saturdays, a visit to the Agricultural Museum, a stop at the biggest manmade pineapple (don’t forget to buy pineapples too) and a drink at the oldest licensed pub in South Africa, the Pig and Whistle Inn. Or, continue on Route 72 and visit the Great Fish Point Lighthouse, 25 km north of Port Alfred; the lighthouse was first lit in 1898, has ocean views left, right and centre and is one of four South African lighthouses that provide visitor accommodation.
ONE MORE FARM STALL
You simply have to make another farm stall stop before you go home. Pop in at Oakly Farm Stall and don’t leave without trying a local specialty, pineapple juice.
EXTEND YOUR STAY
Maybe your 48 hours on Route 72 should be more like 72 hours on Route 72?
Call your boss. Extend your weekend. Make Monday a sunshine Monday. It will be worth it.