Coffee Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa




Coffee Bay is probably one of South Africa's hidden paradises. It is believed that the name Coffee Bay came about in 1893 when a ship full of coffee beans ran aground. The ship spilled its cargo of coffee beans, some of which reached shore, and took root there. Today, the area is completely devoid of coffee beans.

Coffee Bay has a number of advantages over its rival Wild Coast destinations. Probably the most important, especially for visitors who are not used to unpaved roads, is the fact that a tarred road leads all the way there.

Other advantages include a friendly hotel, two backpacker's hostels, fantastic surf and the iconic hole in the wall. This unusual rock formation is a rocky island a few hundred metres offshore with a hole right through the middle.

The tunnel is big enough to drive a ski boat through but only the foolishly brave would attempt to do so, as the sea crashes through there - hence the local name esiKhaleni, which means 'place of noise'.

Most people visit here for the marvellous scenery, the lovely beaches and the charm of the local people but there are some more active choices as well. Visitors can enjoy excellent fishing, surfing, swimming or some bird spotting.

Guests can also abseil right over the sea, a scenic day canoe trip on the Umtata River or an escorted walk. And, of course, once they've worked up an appetite, they could munch their way through lots of lovely seafood.

Coffee Bay is about an hour's drive from the N2 on a tarred, but unfenced, road, which branches off the N2 about 20km on the East London side of Umtata. The closest airport is at Umtata - with flights only to and from Johannesburg.