Find great beaches, charming markets, outdoor adventures and the chance to spot South Africa’s famous wildlife at this Sunshine Coast town.
Long stretches of beach, plenty of sunshine, game reserves and a scenic marina make Port Alfred an enticing destination. English settlers founded Port Alfred as a fishing village in the early 1800s, where the Kowie River meets South Africa’s Sunshine Coast. Today, this laid-back town blends its fishing heritage with a lively beach atmosphere and modern attractions.
Port Alfred’s town center is an unhurried collection of streets lined with colorful low-rise buildings. Stroll along Wharf Street to find food markets, restaurants and an antique store. Take a tour of the Wharf Street Brew Pub and enjoy live music events at the Little Theatre on the Wharf. Learn about the town’s English settlers at the nearby Kowie Museum.
Go to Royal Alfred Marina and check out the exclusive waterfront neighborhood set on five islands. Cross the Kowie River via Port Alfred Bridge and walk along the scenic Beach Road to the Indian Ocean and beaches on either side of the river mouth.
West Beach is a long and pretty stretch of gold-colored sand. This family-friendly beach is a great place for safe swimming and collecting shells. Watersports centers, located downtown, can arrange scuba-diving, deep-sea fishing and whale-watching excursions. On the opposite side of the river is East Beach, where bigger waves roll in from the ocean. Come here to watch surfers and kitesurfers, or try sandboarding down the huge dunes.
Explore the meandering Kowie River by kayaking and hiking on the Kowie River Canoe Trail. The trail travels upriver to the Water Meeting Nature Reserve, where you can hike through forests and spot the endangered barred owl. Play 18 holes at the century-old Royal Port Alfred Golf Course.
Port Alfred is about a 2-hour drive from both Port Elizabeth and East London. The town is best reached via rented car. Port Alfred's consistently mild climate makes it a great year-round destination. The town is also a gateway to superb game parks. Go in search of South Africa’s famous “big five” at Shamwari Game Reserve and Sibuya Game Reserve.