WATERWAYS AND WONDERS OF ROUTE 72 ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
Monday, 1st February 2021
The heat is on in the Eastern Cape and everybody is longing for a road trip to somewhere where the sun is shining, the food is good, and the water is warm. Route 72, also known as the Sunshine Coast, is one of South Africa's favourite holiday playgrounds. It is a place where rolling, green hills are traversed by wide, meandering rivers which empty into an ocean that breaks an endless, sandy beaches. It’s a place where people say “Howzit” and wear flip flops daily; your choices for watersports and adventure are almost infinite. If you're in the mood for a road trip, then head out to Route 72 where beaches, braais, sunshine and warm Eastern Cape hospitality await. Explore some of the wonders and waterways of the Sunshine Coast below:
Sundays River (Colchester)
Sunday's River in Colchester is located about 40 minutes from Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay). It’s a beautiful river that stretches from a coastline of towering sand dunes all the way through the Sundays River Valley. Visitors can enjoy canoeing, river cruises, camping and sandboarding. It's a fun place to stop for the day or a long weekend.
Bushmans River (Kenton-on-Sea)
The town of Kenton-on-Sea is bordered by the Bushmans and Kariega rivers on either side making it an ideal destination for fisherman, boaters, paddlers and water-skiers. The bushmans River is wonderfully calm with lush grassy banks and is ideal for paddlers, bird-watchers and nature-lovers.
Kariega River (Kenton-on-Sea)
Kariega is the river on the other side of Kenton-on-Sea - a popular summer destination for South African watersports-lovers and home to the annual anything that floats race. Take a long stand-up paddle along this river, book a fishing cruise or go wakeboarding – Kariega is lovely year-round and action-packed in summer.
Image: Woodlands Cottages
Kowie River (Port Alfred)
Wonderful Kowie is the lifeblood of Port Alfred located just 15 minutes from Kenton-on-Sea. Port Alfred is a slightly larger town, with a shopping mall, beaches that are popular with surfers and bodyboarders, stand-up paddling and canoeing rentals. With houseboat rentals available, it’s a super river to drop anchor, drop a line and enjoy a sundowner too.
Image: Janet Middleton
Nanaga Farmstall (outside Colchester)
Nanaga is famous across the Eastern Cape for its roosterbrood, pies and pineapple juice. It’s almost a destination in itself and there are few holidaymakers or travelling salesmen that pass the Clover Leaf without pulling into Nanaga. With a playground and grassy outdoor seating, a large variety of curios and farm-fresh products, and on-site restaurant, you’ll want to make time to stop at Nanaga.
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The Lunchbox (Alexandria)
Alexandria is a little farming town on the edge of the coastal section of the Addo Elephant National Park – right on Route 72. It’s the perfect place to stop and restock on your padkos. The Lunchbox is becoming quite famous for great coffee, samoosas and other baked goods, so if you haven’t yet swung in at The Lunchbox, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Oakly Farmstall (Outside Alexandria)
Oakly Farmstall is another old-school farmstall that is worth a visit. Located just outside Alexandria, on the Port Elizabeth side, Oakly’s charm lies in a beautiful old building, warm wooden furniture, and buckets of fresh produce (including those famous Route 72 pineapples). Again, baked goods and hot coffee are to be expected along with a selection of furniture, clothes and bathroom goodies.
Horns-up Restaurant & River Pub (Kenton-on-Sea)
Horns-up is the place to be seen in the high summer season. Open only during December & January annually, Horns-up is located on the banks of the Kariega River on a private farm, offering live music and comedy, and is accessible by boat or by car – making it a uniquely festive location. Out of season, the venue is available for hire for weddings and other functions.
Woody Cape (Alexandria)
This beautiful section of Route 72 has been incorporated into the Addo Elephant National Park and the offshore islands of Bird Island, St Croix and Brenton are a part of the Algoa Bay marine protected area. In other words, Woody Cape is wild and beautiful. Visitors can enjoy an overnight hike, staying at the SANparks cottage, which traverses coastline, dune and coastal forest. It’s a really good way to start or end a week-long exploration of the Sunshine Coast.
East Beach (Port Alfred)
East Beach is where you will catch some of the best waves in the Eastern Cape. Even world surfing champion Kelly Slater has been known to visit East Beach when in South Africa. Surfers jump off the end of the East Beach Pier to access the best waves. The beach is also dog friendly and has a lovely shallow section bathing. A short walk will bring you to the rock pools, where mussels and oysters are harvested by beach-goers (permit necessary).
Image: Kowie Bunga
Middle Beach & Shelley Bay (Kenton-on-Sea)
Middle Beach is located between the Kariega & Bushmans rivers. It’s easily accessible and features a stretch of beach and lovely tidal pools. A short walk will bring you to one of the best-kept secrets of the Sunshine Coast: Shelley Bay.
Image: Woodlands Cottages
Mermaid’s Pool (Kenton-on-Sea)
The mermaid pool is perfect for snorkelers, bathers and children, located at Middle Beach. The rock pools are moments pools are best visited at a medium to low tide and when the ocean isn’t too stormy. Just step into the cool water and enjoy the moment.
Image: Janet Middleton