Port Elizabeth may be a heavily industrialised city, but its enviable location on the Indian Ocean coast makes it an ideal base for a range of day trips in the area – whether you’re drawn to the beaches or want to go inland to see the sights of nature. Furthermore, the South African city can serve as a good base location for exploring the rest of the region’s many sights.
Port Elizabeth is home to two Blue Flag beaches, the international standard for safe, clean and environmentally friendly beaches. The best known is Humewood, a popular place to take part in underwater activities such as swimming, scuba diving and snorkelling or to practice water sports. You can also travel to Wells Estate beach in the north of the city for sunbathing and other beachside activities.
Exploring the coast around Port Elizabeth is another popular activity for families, particularly at locations such as the Maitlands sand dune. This towering dune offers spectacular views of the surrounding area, though many people make the climb simply for the enjoyment of travelling back down – which can be done by body board, sand board or simply walking if you’re not feeling quite so adventurous.
If you’re visiting South Africa to get up close to its indigenous wildlife, making the drive out to Addo Elephant Park could make for a great family day out. While touring the grounds, you’ll have the chance to see many of the park’s 500 protected elephants. This unique experience is far different from visiting the elephants at a zoo, as visiting get to witness the incredible animals in their natural habitat. The main watering hole is well situated to offer excellent views of the majestic creatures washing, drinking and playing, without disturbing their peace. When visiting the park, make sure to bring your camera, as this is the perfect setting to capture your South African adventure.
Flights to Port Elizabeth are popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts too, due to the number of well maintained trails in the vicinity. If you’re interested in trekking around the region’s more rugged terrain, there are a variety of options available. The Sacramento Trail is well known among hikers, traversing four kilometres from the city to Sardinia Bay and the coastal village of Schoenmakerskop. An alternative is to hire a bicycle and enjoy the sights of the Baakens River Mountain and Zwartkops Mountain bike trails.
For a slower and more relaxed trip, walking between the historical sites of Port Elizabeth along the Donkin Heritage Trail can also be insightful, and can be done solo or with a guide. The historical village of Bethelsdorp is also well worth the trip if you’re keen to discover the city’s past. You can find out more about the history of Port Elizabeth and South Africa by visiting some of the city’s highly-revered museums too, including the Red Location Museum which houses a room dedicated to the life and achievements of Nelson Mandela. Other national heroes are commemorated in the Hall of Columns.
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