Introducing Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth offers some of South Africa’s best beaches and is the perfect place to begin or end a honeymoon tour of the country’s famous Garden Route.

With 40km (24mi) of immaculate golden-sand beaches set within a protected bay, as well as numerous outdoor activities, nearby game reserves and accommodation options to suit every budget, Port Elizabeth is a perfect destination at any time of year.

Port Elizabeth beaches

Port Elizabeth’s magnificent beaches are its best attraction. Facing the clean and protected waters of Algoa Bay, the beachfront strip begins about 2km (1.2mi) south of the city centre.

The best of Port Elizabeth's beaches include …

King's Beach

Unwind on this popular 200m-wide and 900m-long beach that shelves gently into the calm waters of Algoa Bay.

Although slightly marred by a backdrop of coal mounds and oil tanks at the northern end of the beach, King's offers numerous facilities including toilets, showers, lifeguards, food and drinks kiosks, restaurants, a go-kart track and mini-golf.

The beach is a base for boat trips and deep-sea fishing trawlers. To the southeast sits Humewood Beach.

Humewood Beach

Sunbathe on this small golden-sand beach and swim in mild surf – just perfect for kids wanting to boogie board to try surfing for the first time.

Humewood Beach offers a quiet alternative to King’s Beach. Fringed by a walking track and grassy parkland, this popular, family friendly beach is just a short stroll from the Bayworld Museum and Oceanarium, where you can watch dolphin and seal shows twice daily.

Facilities on this 250m-long beach include toilets, showers and lifeguards. The nearby Brookes Pavilion and Dolphin's Leap offer a wide choice of restaurants and bars with stunning ocean views.

Hobie Beach

Pick your own spot to sunbathe on this golden-sand beach that sits beneath grassy parkland with picnic tables and a children’s playground.

Go swimming in the calm waters, look out for trapped marine life in the numerous tidal pools or join locals fishing from Shark Rock Pier. A good breeze generally provides excellent conditions for windsurfing, with a good shore break for surfing.

Facilities include toilets, showers and lifeguards. Water sports include wind surfing, kite surfing, jet skiing, power boating and sailing; offshore shipwrecks and colourful coral gardens offer good scuba diving.

The nearby Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World, Brooke's Pavilion and the Lighthouse Entertainment Centre offer a good choice of amusements, shopping, dining and gaming options.

Sardinia Bay Beach

Discover the wildest and most dramatic shoreline in the region on this unspoiled 5km-long beach that stretches around Sardinia Bay and flanks a marine reserve.

Choose to walk the beach or take to several trails that weave through the huge bush-covered sand dunes that overlook this wild beach. There are no facilities here so you will need to take your own food and drinks.

Sardinia Bay Beach is easily accessed by following the 8km-long Sacramento Trail from the village of Schoenmakerskop, which lies at the end of Marine Drive, around 15km from Hobie Beach.

Jeffreys Bay

Home to the perfect wave! Supertubes (as it’s commonly known) is considered one of the planet’s most epic right-hand point breaks (the best of six superb breakpoints in J-Bay).

Racing along a lava-rock reef, the wave is a high-speed run of perfection that lets you surf with a massive smile on your face.

For surfers, this is definitely the place to visit if you’re in the neighbourhood or touring the Garden Route. Surf shops are everywhere and some will rent boards. Facilities include the Billabong head office, retail outlet, factory shop and surf museums, as well as several great bars and restaurants.

The best time to surf Supertubes is from May through August; July is perfect.

The nearby Kabeljous, Seekoei and Krom river lagoons are ideal for kayaking, boardsailing and fishing.

Jeffreys Bay is located on the Eastern Cape, 75km (46mi) southwest of Port Elizabeth.

Read more about surfing Jeffreys Bay

What to do and see in Port Elizabeth

Stroll streets lined with some of the best displays of 19th century Art Nouveau buildings in South Africa.

Take a day trip or stay overnight at one of three game lodges that lie within a short drive of Port Elizabeth, in a malaria-free region of South Africa.

Spot cheetahs and some of the more than 60 species of African wildlife at Shamwari Private Game Reserve.

See Africa's ‘big five’ (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) at Pumba Private Game Reserve then admire the largest elephant population in the world at Addo Elephant Park.

Catch playful dolphins and seals at Oceanarium, adjacent to Humewood Beach.

Mix magnificent beaches with sightings of big game at these nature reserves…

Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Spot antelope, giraffe, wildebeest, hippos, cheetahs and reintroduced ‘big five’ (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo) from an open-topped Land Rover at this 20,000ha game reserve.

Shamwari also features the African art and culture village of Kaya Lendaba and a Born Free sanctuary for abused animals.

Visit on a day trip or stay longer at the luxurious Shamwari Reserve.

Shamwari is located just 65km (40mi) east of Port Elizabeth, around 50 minutes drive.

Addo Elephant National Park

View elephants in their natural habitat from an open-topped Land Rover at this 90,000ha reserve.

Also look out for black rhino, buffalo, zebra, red hartebeest, eland, kudu antelope, bushbuck, warthog and the flightless dung beetle (endemic to Addo).

Note: Leave your oranges at home; Addo elephants regard citrus fruit as a delicacy and they can become quite aggressive once they pick up the scent. Addo is located 72km (44mi) northeast of Port Elizabeth, a 45-minute drive.

Pumba Private Game Reserve

Unwind in the heart of the malaria-free Eastern Cape and catch sight of Africa's ‘big five’ – elephant, lion, leopard, rhino and buffalo. Look out also for the endangered and majestic white lion.

Come for a day or stay longer at this 5-star game reserve offering a choice of luxurious game lodges, complete with individual swimming pools framed by timber decks and outdoor showers. Pumba is located near Grahamstown, around 98km from Port Elizabeth.

Hike the 8km-long Sacramento trail from Schoenmakerskop to Sardinia Bay Marine Reserve, walk the Donkin Heritage trail, go horseback riding or quad biking across the wide sand dunes and ride the charming Apple Express.

If time permits, take a side trip to nearby Jeffreys Bay – an easy detour from the Garden Route and famous as home to the perfect surf wave.

The Apple Express

Take a ride on this charming and beautifully restored steam train that runs from Humewood Road station to Thornhill village and other destinations via Van Staden's River Bridge – the highest narrow-gauge railway bridge in the world.

Garden Route

Port Elizabeth is located at the eastern end of the scenic Garden Route, which is a major tourist attraction in South Africa.

Famous for its indigenous forests, freshwater lakes, wetlands, hidden coves and long, sweeping golden-sand beaches, the Garden Route stretches along a narrow coastal strip for 185km (115mi) from Mossel Bay to Storms River, and inland to the mountain peaks of the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma National Park.

By car, Port Elizabeth is an 8-hour drive from Cape Town via the Garden Route.

Where to stay

Accommodation options in Port Elizabeth, include Hacklewood Hill Country House, a gracious former Victorian manor house set in town, and the luxurious boutique-styled Windermere Hotel, conveniently located close to King’s Beach.

African Pride Hacklewood Hill Country House
Location: 152 Prospect Road, Walmer, Port Elizabeth
Rating: 5-star
Prices: from AUD187 per room
Description: Furnished in beautiful period pieces, this luxury hotel is close to St. George's Cricket Ground, Port Elizabeth City Hall and Market Square. Guestrooms feature very large bathrooms, balconies, refrigerators and safes. Facilities incl.: restaurant, bar, 2 outdoor pools and room service.

Best time to visit Port Elizabeth

The best time to visit Port Elizabeth is from mid-November through to mid-April, when the average high temperature is around 26°C (79°F). Port Elizabeth is considered a year-round destination.

Port Elizabeth experiences a sunny, subtropical climate with mild winters and warm summers and occasional rain showers. On occasions, the wind from the interior can bring very hot days.

More about Port Elizabeth weather

How to get to Port Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth, known locally as PE or 'the Windy City', is located in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

The city stretches for 16km (10mi) along the western edge of Algoa Bay.

The most convenient route to Port Elizabeth is by air to Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ), formerly known as H. F. Verwoerd Airport, located around 4km (2.5mi) south of the city's central business district.

By car, Port Elizabeth is an 8-hour drive from Cape Town via the Garden Route.

More about how to get to Port Elizabeth

Latest update: Port Elizabeth Honeymoon Guide: 3 January, 2023