We rent our flat in Knysna out on Airbnb and meet loads of tourists from all over the world. Common ground – they all say South Africa is amazing. I mean, we knew that, but I love hearing it from other people. We really do have a beautiful home. What I especially love about it is that it’s so diverse – mountains, valleys, forests, beaches, cities, waterfalls, wine farms, gardens, deserts. You wants it? We gots it! So, this series is dedicated to showing some of the smaller towns and cities in SA some love.
Port Elizabeth was an obvious choice. It was my hometown for 30 years, and my personality has a distinct PE flair to it. Haha. People that aren’t from PE know what this means better than those that are still rocking the PE vibe. It’s a good thing. I’m proud of it. We say things like “yill” instead of “hill” and “lykat” instead of “like that”, we moan when it takes longer than 15 minutes to get anywhere, and we’d never pay more than R50 for a burger. Not ever.
So, here goes – a list of the things I love about PE:
Port Elizabeth has, hands down, some of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen. They’re safe for swimming and the water is warm, thanks to the Indian Ocean. So, it’s also fantastic for watersports like SCUBA diving, snorkelling, kite-surfing (that wind…), fishing, sailing, stand-up paddling, kayaking, and (as just about every second blonde-haired-bronzed-bodied person will remind you) surfing.
There are massive sandy stretches that are awesome for tanning, playing Frisbee, a game of volleyball, or building sand castles.
Restaurants and Coffee Shops
There are so many amazing restaurants, coffee shops, delis, bakeries and bistros in the Friendly City – it’s seriously hard to decide what to do on a night out. These range from artisan pizzerias and speciality bakeries to take-away joints and craft breweries. Some places transform from a laid-back spot to have a cold beer after a swim to a fun dancy place after dark. Remember dancy places, moms?
PE also has good service and great value for money, generally speaking. Please don’t quote me when you’re complaining about a rude waitress.
There are loads of malls in and around Port Elizabeth. The best known are Baywest Mall, Walmer ParkShopping Centre, and Greenacres. These are home to restaurants, boutiques, chain stores, gift stores, movie houses, an ice rink, and so much more. When the wind won’t quit and neither will the kids, a mall is an all-round winner.
Addo Elephant National Park
Addo is special. It’s vast, magnificent, and home to SO many animals. Game drives are really rewarding because, although the park is not at all cramped and the animals aren’t forced to share a small space, there’s an abundance. So, you get great wildlife shots and excellent opportunities to see elephants, lions, jackals, zebras, ostriches, giraffes, kudus, and more.
Here are a few more things that earn PE extra brownie points:
- The people really are friendly.
- It’s quiet, as far as cities go. There’s seldom a traffic jam and you almost never have to drive for longer than 15 or 20 minutes to get somewhere.
- The locals are made up of a real mix of cultures, colours, and languages. This makes for a great vibe.
- It is relatively central. Cape Town is about eight hours’ drive away, Durban is 11 hours away and Johannesburg is roughly 10.5 hours away by car. Jeffrey’s Bay is only around 80 kilometres outside the city, and the holiday hotspots of Knysna and Plett are less than three hours’ drive.