Port Elizabeth Destination Guide

Port Elizabeth Destination Guide Overview. The industrial city of Port Elizabeth is the centre of the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, known in most tourist guides as ‘settler country’. The city was founded by shiploads of British settler families who arrived in the Eastern Cape in the early 19th century hoping to improve their prospects after suffering economic hardship because of the industrial revolution at home. The settlers also intended to strengthen defenses against the local Xhosa people, who had been pushed back beyond the Fish River frontier. They came ashore at Algoa Bay, where there was nothing more than the small British Fort Frederick to welcome them.

The city, from its humble beginnings, has grown into a principal port and manufacturing centre. Although it is very much a working town with a large indigent population living in the outlying township areas, Port Elizabeth draws plenty of tourists because of its proximity to the attractions of the east coast and historically interesting interior. The city is justifiably known as ‘the friendly city’ and Algoa Bay boasts 25 miles (40km) of beautiful sandy beaches lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The attractive beachfront is the venue for the annual ‘Splash’ festival and world boardsailing championships, and features a long promenade and pier full of tourist facilities.

Port Elizabeth Destination Guide Attractions

Bayworld

Port Elizabeth’s most popular attraction consists of a complex on the beachfront that includes the Oceanarium, a museum, and a snake park. The Bayworld Oceanarium is famed for its performing Bottlenose dolphin shows, enjoyed by thousands every year. Besides the large dolphin pool with its underwater viewing area, the oceanarium also features an aquarium tank where visitors can watch a vast array of marine life through glass portholes as they glide by, including sharks, turtles and rays. The snake park contains an impressive variety of indigenous reptiles in natural-looking enclosures. The PE Museum focuses on cultural and natural history with a wide variety of exhibits, from models of sailing ships and period costumes to giant replicas of dinosaurs that roamed the area in prehistoric times; it is the third-oldest museum in the country.

Location: Beach Road, Humewood, Port Elizabeth
Phone: 041 584 0650
Email: pr@bayworld.co.za
Website: www.bayworld.co.za
Opening Times: Museum, Oceanarium and snake park: daily 9am to 4.30pm (Oceanarium closed between 12.45pm and 1.45pm); dolphin and seal shows are twice daily at 11am and 3pm; reptile presentations at 12pm Monday to Friday
Admission: R35 (adults), R18 (children) from 1 December to 31 January, and Easter holidays; R33 (adults), R16 (children) at other times. No 7 Castle Museum: R8 (adults), R4 (children)
How to get there:

Market Square

Port Elizabeth’s architectural heritage can be traced by taking a walk around the central city Market Square, which features several historic buildings. The centrepiece of the square is the aesthetically pleasing City Hall, dating from 1858, topped with an attractive clock tower. Also in the square is a replica of the Diaz Cross that commemorates the first European to set foot in Algoa Bay in 1488, when Dutch explorer Bartholomew Diaz stopped over on his way east. Alongside the city hall is the Prester John Memorial, dedicated to the Portuguese explorers who landed in South Africa. On the northwest flank of the square is the city’s public library, built in 1835 and originally used as a courthouse. The beautiful building is regarded as an excellent example of Victorian Gothic architecture and is interesting in that its façade was manufactured in England and shipped to Port Elizabeth to be recreated piece by piece. In front of the library stands a marble statue of Queen Victoria, which was unveiled in 1903. Slightly downhill from the square, at the entrance to the harbour, stands the Campanile, containing the biggest carillon of bells in the country. Visitors can climb 204 steps to enjoy the view from the top of this monument, which commemorates the landing of the 1820 settlers.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone:
Email:
Website:
Opening Times:
Admission:
How to get there:

Donkin Reserve

On a hill above the centre of the city stands a stone pyramid monument with an adjacent lighthouse. The open public space was proclaimed in perpetuity by Sir Rufane Donkin, acting British Governor of the Cape, when the 1820 Settlers arrived in Algoa Bay. Donkin named the new settlement after his wife, Elizabeth, who had died in India two years’ previously, and erected the pyramid in her memory. The lighthouse was built in 1861, and today houses the city’s Tourist Information Centre. Maps are available from the centre describing a three-mile (five km) discovery trail through the hill area and central city, taking in 47 historic sites and architectural delights.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone:
Email:
Website:
Opening Times:
Admission:
How to get there:

St George’s Park

St George’s Park has been a recreational centre for the city for more than 150 years, boasting well-landscaped gardens covering 73 hectares. On site is the world famous Port Elizabeth Cricket Club, scene of many an exciting test match series, and the oldest bowling green in South Africa. The park also features the 1882 Edwardian Pearson Conservatory, a national monument filled with orchids, water lilies and other exotic plants. Every second Sunday of the month the park plays host to a vibrant arts and crafts fair. The other major park in Port Elizabeth is Settler’s Park, set in the Baakens River valley, which boasts indigenous flora and fauna and offers a delightful stroll along the riverbank.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone:
Email:
Website:
Opening Times:
Admission:
How to get there:

Addo Elephant Park

The most popular game reserve in the Port Elizabeth area is the Addo Elephant Park, just a 45-minute drive from the city. There are currently more than 300 elephants in residence in the park, which was recently enlarged. Addo was proclaimed in 1931 in an effort to save the remaining 11 elephants indigenous to the area. The elephants are drawn to watering holes at certain times and sightings are virtually guaranteed all year round. There are other animals in the park too, including black rhino, buffalo, zebra, warthog and several types of buck. Guided game drives are available or visitors can do a self-drive tour using the map issued at the entrance. Serviced accommodation is available and there is a restaurant and picnic site at the Park.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone: 042 233 0556
Email:
Website: www.sanparks.org/parks/addo
Opening Times: Daily 7am to 7pm
Admission: R80 (foreign adult), R40 (foreign child); South African residents pay R20 per day
How to get there:

Shamwari Game Reserve

The multi-award winning private game reserve of Shamwari lies less than an hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth and has been responsible for re-introducing numerous species into the Eastern Cape plains, including all of the Big Five – lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo. The reserve offers luxury accommodation, but also hosts visitors on day trips from the city. Day tours include a visit to an African art and culture village to sample Xhosa culture and traditionally brewed beer, and a visit to the Born Free centre for abused animals.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone: 042 203 1111
Email:
Website: www.shamwari.com
Opening Times:
Admission:
How to get there:

Grahamstown

The historic settler town of Grahamstown, 78 miles (125km) northeast of Port Elizabeth, is presided over, from the top of Gunfire Hill, by the 1820 Settler’s National Monument, an arts and theatre complex which forms the focus of the town’s annual internationally recognised Arts Festival held in July. Grahamstown was founded in 1815 as a garrison to drive the Xhosa eastwards across the Fish River frontier, giving rise to a century of frontier war. The town has an English colonial flavour, and is home to the renowned Rhodes University and some top private boarding schools. There are several museums, including the JLB Smith Institute of Ichthyology where two stuffed specimens of the coelacanth are on display. The town also boasts the only Victorian camera obscura in the southern hemisphere.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone:
Email:
Website: www.grahamstown.co.za
Opening Times:
Admission:
How to get there:

Jeffrey’s Bay

A short drive to the west of Port Elizabeth is the surfing Mecca of Jeffrey’s Bay (known colloquially as ‘J-Bay’). The seaside town plays host to the world Billabong Professional surfing contest every July, and is famed for its ‘supertubes’, South Africa’s perfect wave. The town is bustling, with several stores selling branded surfing gear, and several flashy cafes and restaurants. The long stretches of sandy beach around the town are also renowned for their shells.

Location: , Port Elizabeth
Phone:
Email:
Website: www.jeffreysbaytourism.com
Opening Times:
Admission:
How to get there:

Leave a Reply

Back to Top