You can hardly be confused about things to do in Jeffreys Bay. This coastal town in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, which was stumbled upon and named after Captain Jeffreys, attracts visitors from around the world.
Captain Jeffrey was a senior partner of the law firm Jeffrey and Glendinnings in the 1840s. During one of his regular trading missions along the country’s East Coast, there was an outbreak of scurvy aboard his ship. The vessel’s crew had to anchor at the captivating little place we know today as Jeffreys Bay, where he is believed to be the first settler. He first constructed a primitive port on the shore (a sight which is now the main beach), he later opened a store in 1849, built himself a mansion that was so impressive that it was called the ‘White House’ in 1850, and by 1852, had acquired some substantial land.
Captain Jeffrey’s story gives a glimpse of this place that hippies have called their own since the late 1960s. Once you get there and see all that Jeffreys Bay has to offer, you will want to name a piece of it after yourself too.
At the initiative of the now late mayor of the Kouga Municipality, Elza Van Lingen, the district holds the annual Kwela Town of the Year awards. Jeffreys Bay claimed this title in 2018 for the reasons which we will cover in this article. We hope to stimulate your inner tourist by highlighting the things about Jeffreys Bay that make it a destination that you can brag about visiting. If you want to be known as an awesome storyteller and all-around human being, you must experience Jeffreys Bay as soon as possible.
The amazing things to do in Jeffreys Bay
Mention Jeffreys Bay and beach sand, long hair, and surfboards should immediately come to mind. In this post, we will explore the origins of the international surfing culture of the Bay as well as 11 other exhilarating activities, experiences, and flavours that make this site just 75km north of Port Elizabeth, the outstanding place that it is. They are:
- Surfing (museum, surfing classes)
- Paddle Boarding
- Go to the beach (bike beach rides, beach buggy rental)
- Horse riding
- Try the seafood
- Game Reserves and National Parks
- Seal Point Lighthouse
- Private Adventure Activities
Jeffreys Bay is where the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the East Coast of South Africa meet. The waves in this part of the continent are phenomenal.
In 1966, Cape St Francis was featured in the movie, The Endless Summer, in which Mike Hynson and Robert August discovered the ‘perfect wave.’ But Jeffreys Bay’s waves were introduced to American surfers around that time, when a Surfer magazine article titled “Quest for the Perfect Wave,” raved about the dependability and consistency of the waves over those of Cape St Francis.
Expert surfers say “[the] perfect waves are attributed to a very long and fast right-hand point break that occurs all along the west side of the bay.” The weather conditions between May and mid-September are best suited for surfing; that is when there are offshore winds that create the ideal wave sizes of between 2 to 6 meters. And the waves are variant enough to suit both novice and experienced surfers.
Supertubes, located at Dolphin Beach and named after its waves, is the hot spot for surfers. It is known as ‘the best wave in Africa and one of the top five right-hand breaks in the world.’ If you’re new to surfing or are just not very good yet, there are numerous surfing schools that are readily accessible near the beach for consultation. Other popular waves with similar sizes include Kitchen Window, Boneyards, Phantoms, Magnatubes, and the Albatross.
Even if you are a pro surfer, worry not. There are many coaches in J Bay who offer lessons and we have linked two of them below.
With the warm waters of the Indian ocean, Jeffreys bay is a perfect for water sports and scuba diving is snorkeling is a good choice.
Get to see the fascinating marine life with guidance from Jeffreys Bay Scuba Diving, run by Paul van Jaarsveld who is a NAUI registered dive instructor and offers courses from beginner to professional in scuba diving and other diverse outdoor adventure activities. The diving courses are great even for large groups of up to 15.
Jeffreys Bay has some of the most pristine reefs in the Eastern Cape, varying in depth from 10m to 50m and accommodates a wide variety of different species. It is well worth discovering the underwater gems that it has to offer. While scuba diving requires some level of training (course can be completed in about a week), snorkeling is ideal for beginners and you can see the maritime beauty that J Bay has to offer.
For those of us that don’t mind being a spectacle, there is stand-up paddle boarding. The lagoons are paddle-boarding friendly for beginners because of their gentle currents. Companies like Wacky Wipeouts and J Bay Wind provide rental paddles and boards and promise that the boards are stable and easy to steer. But be warned, stand-up paddle boarding needs core stability and uses every muscle in the body! Instructors will be there to show you how to stay up when you get a little too wobbly.
And when you’re done looking like a Flamingo, you can try and find one in the adjacent nature reserve that provides stunning sunset views. The hosts give you 2 hours to move through the river at your own pace.
Go to the Beach
As one of the recipients of the coveted Blue Flag status, Dolphin Beach is one of the best on the planet. The Blue Flag programme was created ‘to raise environmental awareness and increase sound environmental practices among tourists, local populations, and beach management.’ More than 40 countries participate in this annual tradition and over 4400 international beaches have achieved this status.
Dolphin beach is unique with its long stretches and outstanding coral reef that makes snorkeling a pleasure. And dolphins can be seen from the shore of the beach but between July and September, the luckiest beachgoers can sight the Southern Right Whales that greet swimmers as they pass by. There is a public information kiosk, ablutions, showers, wheelchair access, and restaurants and shops nearby. A family day at the beach may also include a visit to the Dolphin Beach Entertainment Centre which offers waterslides, mini golf, and quad bikes for the kids.
In July of every year, the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour draws many patrons for the Billabong Pro Competition. Participants can enjoy touch rugby games, swimming, tanning, kiteboarding, and shell collecting.
Paradise beach is an underdeveloped suburb that can be found between Jeffreys Bay and St. Francis Bay. Windsurfers and kiteboarders spend their days at this beach. It is a white-sanded coastal area decorated with nature reserves and estuaries and therefore, there is a lot of wildlife to be encountered there. The most captivating creatures including tiny Bucks, Tortoises, Bird species, Rabbits, Mongooses, and Otters reside in the grasslands.
Those that gave the beach its name knew exactly what it is that they were doing.
Source: World Beach Guide
Hobie Beach is ideal for a relaxed day on the beach. Swimmers, sunbathers, and body surfers all congregate to enjoy this scenic coastline. The sea is calm and tepid, with atmospheric temperatures reaching 21 Degrees Celsius in the summer months.
Activities such as scuba diving, windsurfing, kiting, surfing, jet skiing, or surf skiing are available to beachgoers that want to get physical. And during April, over the Easter holidays, the locals host an annual gathering called the Splash Festival. The 3-day event involves live music and family entertainment. Beach Volleyball, Inflatable Boat Racing, and Tetra Brazil Beach Soccer are some of the water sports that patrons can join. Numerous local musicians feature in the festivities, as well as Easter egg hunts, sandcastle competitions, and stage performances by comedians.
Hobie Beach has a pier called the Shark Rock Pier and at low tide, the rock pools shelter fascinating inter-tidal sea life. The family can make an occasion out of spotting starfish and octopuses in the sea sand.
One of the most memorable and enthralling adventures that anyone can embark on, is riding on a horse across the beach. The Beach Horse Trails happen at the Papiesfontein farm, just 10 kilometers outside of Jeffreys Bay. This farm is a distinctive venue because it is a place where some bush, a river, and the sea combine.
Trail tours of a 13-kilometer circular route occur twice a day, ending after 2 hours of a magical journey through coastal vegetation, the Gamtoos River, and a stretch of deserted beach. Riders can catch a spectacular view of the dunes and plant and marine life. Various birds, tortoises, bushbuck, and least of all whales, may make an appearance to add to the splendour of the trip.
Try the Seafood
One of the loveliest things about beach life is enjoying a meal and a glass of wine (or few) with a view of the ocean. And it is impossible to enjoy a seaside holiday without seafood (that’s if you are not allergic).
If you asked any native Jeffreys Bayer about the best dish to try, they would recommend the Kingklip Waleska. The fish is baked in a wood-burning oven while lathered with a white wine garlic, and fish stock sauce. And for added indulgence, it is topped with a trio of cheeses. The Butter Prawn Curry is a close second.
Flame Grilled Steaks are on the menu for die-hard meat lovers. Butter Chicken Curry is also a satisfying alternative.
All these dishes can be found at the iconic Kitchen Windows, De Viswijf, and The Restaurant on Pepper Street, and Die Walskipper eateries.
Given how picturesque Jeffreys Bay is; hiking is an entirely pleasurable experience. There are many nature reserves to explore, and the Bay even offers overnight trails. Hiking trail distances range from 1 kilometer for day walks to 62 kilometers for the more advanced weekend hikers.
Noorsekloof Nature Reserve
The Reserve covers 28 hectares of land which provide a 3-kilometer trail running route alongside a stream. More than 50 species of birds occupy the area including the Knysna Woodpecker, Knysna Loerie, and paradise flycatchers; the birds have the company of some small buck. The reserve got its name from the abundance of Noorsboom trees or giant Euphorbia Triangularus that populate the region. The trail is free and is 3 kilometers long.
The Kabeljous Nature Reserve
This is a 180-hectare reserve that includes parts of the Kabeljous River and estuary, extensive wetlands, valleys, forest, and a few kilometers of beautiful coastline with vegetated dunes. Visitors are welcome to picnic at the estuary.
The trail can be accessed off the R102 highway as well as at the start of the south side of the estuary, where the parking beside the picnic sites leads to a walkway along the banks toward the ocean.
Bird sightings can happen in abundance, with more than 100 bird species in the area, including the thousands of red-knobbed coots that nest in these waters. When you reach the main path, you will walk through a coastal thicket and get a chance to spot Bushbuck, Duiker, and Grysbok. The view from the lookout over the coastline and surrounding bush is breathtaking. Nests of African black oystercatchers can be seen down the dunes of the beach. The reserve accommodates a walking distance of up to 7 kilometers.
Seekoeirivier Nature Reserve
The Seekoeirivier Nature Reserve is home to the Tortoise Trail, which lies between the coastal villages of Aston Bay and Paradise Beach; south of Jeffreys Bay. The reserve is enchantingly dressed in many trees including the Gharrie, Boerboon, Milkwood, Sage Wood, Bitou, and Aloe trees. The Tortoise Trail starts at the reserve office and leads down to the bird hide on the riverbanks, where more than 120 bird species have been identified, including the Cape dabchick and superb Fish Eagle. In optimal conditions, large flocks of flamingos meet to bathe in the shallow waters. Wildlife such as the Blue Duiker, Bushbuck, Tortoise, Mongoose, and Grysbok can also possibly meet you along the way. This trail is ideal if you want the kids to tag along, it is a kilometer in length.
Source: Supertubes Guesthouse
Oyster Bay, St. Francis Bay, and Cape St. Francis
The 62-kilometer Chokka Trail begins about a half an hour drive away from Jeffreys Bay at St. Francis Bay. This hike is for rugged travelers that want to take in Jeffreys Bay in a new way.
The trail meanders through quaint fishing villages and the incredible and untouched part of the Eastern Cape brimming with Fynbos (a small belt of natural shrubland or heathland vegetation located in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa), Wetlands, Sand Dunes, and a natural coastline. Royal treatment comes in the form of only carrying a lunch pack whilst your luggage is transported to your next overnight stay, in comfortable and luxurious accommodation.
Game Reserves and National Parks
One of the characteristics that give South Africa its glory is the kinds of game that can be found roaming the reserves. Game drives are synonymous with the country as tourists look forward to camera footage of White Rhinos, Buffalos, Cheetahs, Giraffe, Zebras, Nyalas, Bontebok, Lechwe, and many others. Drives can be self-directed or taken with a professional guide who is prepared to provide interesting information about the animals as well as the historical background of the area.
The reserves and national parks are sites with exquisite landscape views. Visitors can become a part of nature by being able to see up close and sleep amongst what they can only regularly experience on National Geographic. Recommended reserves for an otherworldly stay are the Kragga Kamma Game Park and the Fijnbosch Game Lodge. The latter has spa facilities for some pampering after the itinerate days of being a holidaymaker.
Here is a sneak peek of the Kragga Kamma Game Park experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AbjN2l3Tfs
Seal Point Lighthouse
The Seal Point Lighthouse was built in the 1870s, was first lit in 1878, and has survived to become one of Jeffreys Bay’s tourist attractions. The structure is open 7 days a week between 10 am and 3:30 pm for guided tours. The lighthouse tours (weather permitting) consist of a 154-step upward climb into the lantern room; the building is 28 meters tall. When you get to the top, you can expect to be overwhelmed by a bird’s eye view of the mesmerising seascape and Cape St. Francis.
Confirmation of tours must be made beforehand. The price for the tour is R50 per person. A maximum of 5 people can take the tour at a time and children under 7 are not permitted to take the tour.
Other activities such as surfing, beach trail walks, fishing, swimming, golf, and mountain biking are also available on site.
The Shell Museum
The legendary Jeffreys Bay Shell Museum showcases more than 600 shell species from around the world. It is one of the largest shell collections in South Africa, attracting global shell enthusiasts. The variety of shells is countless, and they are displayed in glass cases (because touching is heavily tempting). The shell assortment includes the magnificent Cowrie, the rare Paper Nautilus, baby Jam Tarts, and a recently discovered species of Cone.
Shells and shell crafts can be purchased outside the museum from shell shops and stalls.
The Surfing Museum
Given its international reputation as the surfing county of the world, the Jeffreys Bay Surf Museum proudly captures the origins of this heritage.
The development of the sport is tracked through newspaper clippings from the 1970s, magazine articles, and photographs that plaster the walls of the museum. These timeless collectibles trace the history of the sport and its heroes.
There are also displays of surfboards, from antique to modern, to illustrate the evolution of their manufacture from heavy to light; from wood to foam and glass fibre. Museum curators ensure that they maintain the tradition of hoarding every important piece of Jeffrey Bays’ surfing story for all generations.
The dunes at Jeffreys Bay beaches are irresistible enough for anyone to want to ride, whether they’ve never done it before or have lost count. There are slopes of all gradients to suit adrenaline junkies of all kinds. Not only is sandboarding a lot of fun and easy to learn, but participants can also see the whales and dolphins that frequent the beach around those times. Trips are run daily at 10 am and 2 pm and transfers have been prearranged from Dolphin Drive to the sandboarding area.
Participants can expect to spend 2 hours on the dunes; sandboards are provided. The minimum number of sand boarders is 2.
The team recommends that comfortable beach clothing be worn. Shoes are not necessary, but socks may be needed for hot summer days. Visitors must be mindful that this is a physically intensive activity!
Jeffreys Bay’s lagoons and their soothing currents are suitable for calm water sports like Paddle Boarding, and Kayaking is no exception. With a paddle in your hands and beautiful nature surrounding you, you can steer yourself to relaxation; the team insists on how easy it is to do. During the trip, your guide will tell you more about the biodiversity of the Eastern Cape and why the lagoon is important to the region’s natural diversity. You may also get the opportunity to see Grysbok, Bushbuck, Mongoose, Caracal, Duiker, Bush Pig, or some of about 100 bird species, including the iconic Pink Flamingo.
There are daily Kayak trips between 8 am and 6 pm in season and at 10 am, 12 pm, and 2 pm out of season. All equipment, such as kayaks and life jackets, is provided. The meeting spot for those who wish to be picked up by the team is Kabeljauws Road.
Private Adventure Activities
For the less proactive travelers looking for things to do in Jeffreys Bay, some service providers have packaged some activities for a full day of adventure. An example of this is the Marriot Bonvoy’s bundle, which is a day spent at Kabeljouws Lagoon. The agenda starts with a ride to the lagoon followed by Kayaking or Stand-Up Paddle Boarding. You would need to conserve some of your energy for the next item, a Fat Bike Beach ride on miles of untainted beach.
After that, it is time to tuck into a light BBQ lunch that will be waiting for you at the lagoon. The day ends with a Sandboarding session on the dunes.
Jeffreys Bay is such a benevolent town. You can see it in the endless Google reviews that confront you when you want to find out more about this vibrant coastal land. It is extremely difficult to adequately capture everything that describes Jeffreys Bay. Outside of surfers, people from around the world descend upon it annually to experience its culture, seas, and natural magnificence.
There are countless things to do in Jeffreys Bay. We haven’t even mentioned things like paintballing at Jeffreys Bay, let alone the magical Addo National Elephant Park, where 3 of South Africa’s Big 5 (Elephant, Rhino, and Lion) find their sanctuary.
If you’re looking for an exclusively South African escapade, Jeffreys Bay will far from disappoint.
Please continue to visit our page for more information on the things to do around South Africa. For more on the Eastern Cape Province, you can check out our post on Malls in Mthatha here.