Kowie River, Port Alfred
With 22 km of navigable river plus access to the Indian Ocean boating and skiing are among the most popular past times in Port Alfred. A small boat harbour next to the Royal Alfred Marina is home to an array of private ski boats, fishing boats, millionaire’s yachts, canoes and barges. You can, of course, bring your own craft.
Registrations for boats can be obtained at the Harbour Masters office, in the small boat harbour. Tel/Fax 046-624-4587.
Boats can be launched at the small boat harbour or at the old Municipal slipway, near the tourism office. You will need the relevant skipper’s licence to operate the boat.
Waterskiing zones are demarcated between Bells Reach and Centenary Park, and between Centenary Park and Rabbit Rock.
Cruises in covered barges leave from the small boat harbour in Port Alfred. Bring along a packed picnic, or join one of the popular braai cruises. Special events such as birthday parties are also catered for.
Sea and Adrenalin Cruises
Early mornings or late afternoons are a perfect time for a sea cruises and to watch the sun rise or set over the Indian Ocean. The wild at heart can enjoy a high-speed adrenaline cruise.
Jet Skis may be launched at the small boat harbour in Port Alfred and may then proceed down the Kowie River mouth towards the mouth and out to sea. No jet skis are allowed upriver.
There is year-round surf in Port Alfred. The two most popular surf breaks are on either side of the Kowie River Mouth and are known as East and West Beach. East Beach is the most popular of the two, and has a good, gnarly right break that works best in moderate swells from the south, with SW or NW breezes. West Beach has a beach peak that starts fairly close to the mouth with good left and right breaks.
Kowie River: The tidal Kowie River navigable for 22km. Canoes can be hired from various operators in Port Alfred. There is an overnight hut at Horseshoe Bend. The river is flanked by natural vegetation and abundant wildlife. Many wonderful bird species can be sighted along the way.
Kleinemonde West Canoe Trail: Experience the beauty of this river. You can expect to see fish eagle, Knysna louries (now officially known as the Knysna turaco), spoonbills, kingfishers and many herons. It is possible to paddle for approximately 9 km up the river.
Nature View Canoe Trail: For birders and nature lovers a magical canoe trial along the tranquil Kap River. Canoe though a riverside forest and 80 metre high cliffs as you canoe along the border of a nature reserve.
Port Alfred dive spots are famous for their soft coral, numerous wrecks that dot the shores and the incredible “Lunar landing” which is where crayfish in their hundreds live and breed.
The best season for diving is during the winter months (late March to late August), with the two best months being June and July.
Cannon Rocks Kiting Adventures
Kiteboarding, Kite Buggying, Beach jumping or just having fun with the whole family… Cannon Rocks Kiting Adventures has it all. Cannon Rocks Kiting Adventures offers one on one or small group lessons in which the student is taken from the theory to getting out in the water.
Time to relax
Kelly’s Beach is one of South Africa’s prestigious international Blue Flag beaches. This sandy beach is only 1 km from the hotel, and is a local favourite. Two viewing decks provide vantage points from which to view whales in season, and dolphins, beach goers and stunning sunsets the rest of the year. It is a great swimming beach and offers 5-star facilities. Blue Flag certification assures cleanliness, safety and the maintenance of environmental standards.
Boogie Boarding at Kelly’s Beach
Have fun in the waves at Port Alfred’s blue flag Kelly’s Beach, which is the closest beach to the Royal St. Andrews Hotel.
The Swim Centre in Port Alfred now boasts an average pool temperature of 29o C with Eco Friendly Heat Pumps and is super clean with use of a Robotic Pool Cleaner.
Royal Port Alfred Golf Course:
The Royal Port Alfred Golf course has a view of the sea you will never forget. On a clear day you can often see whales and dolphins at play. And as if this wasn’t enough to put you off your swing, you’ll also encounter many species of game during your round. Enjoy golf and a game drive all in one go.
This 18-hole course was laid out between 1907 and 1915 and was given royal status from King George V. Expect an 18-hole, 72-par course. Contact 046 624 4796 to book your round.
Residents of the Royal St. Andrews Hotel qualify for preferential rates at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club and at the Fish River Sun Country Club. Please present your residence card at the Golf Shop.
Please note that these rates are unfortunately NOT valid from 16 December to 10 January.
Fish River Sun Golf Course:
The Gary Player designed 18-hole golf course is regarded as a “must play” course. This course incorporates a number of unique challenges presented by the natural landscape, including several drives across the Old Woman’s River. Resident rates are available, as well as resident professional – lessons. Please be advised that reservations for golf and golf carts are essential.
The Postmaster’s Village
Royal St. Andrews Hotel guests enjoy discounts at the Postmaster’s Village, which is situated just 300 metres away from the hotel. Well worth a visit, the village consists of an eclectic collection of small boutique shops, and two coffee shops.
Where else can you walk out of a shopping mall and see the sea! National retailers, restaurants, art gallery, gift shops and décor outlets provide the broadest possible shopping experience and maximum convenience.
There is even a skateboarding halfpipe in the sporting store. Natural air and light make the mall a healthy entertainment option for kids. There is ample free parking and no guards to torment.
Wharf Street on the older side of town is famous for its fresh fish stores, antique and second-hand furniture stores, the Little Brewery on Wharf Street, stunning restaurants / eateries, our very own Little Theatre on the Wharf, a Tattoo parlour, Art Gallery, home decor shop, Bezant fresh meats, a fresh fruit and vegetable shop and much more.
The Heritage Mall where the anchor tenant is Pick ‘n Pay. Other stores in the vicinity are Mr Price, Sheet Street, Mica, Midas and CNA as well as several independent, furniture, clothing, fashion, baby & children’s wear, fruit and vegetables, toys, sports and speciality stores.
Van der Riet Street, home to The Courtyard, offering a stylish home decor store, antiques and second-hand goods, crafts and gifts and the most beautiful fresh flowers (one of their specialities is the gerbera daisy – all shades of this stunning bloom come in daily from nearby Bathurst). A lovely coffee shop, bakery and wine bar. Further down Van der Riet Street are other popular restaurants, and a lovely cocktail bar. You will also find a health shop, computer store, specialist paint store, and the like in this fascinating street.
Port Alfred CBD you will find quaint furniture stores, second-hand book stores, fresh fruit markets and home industries selling crafts and local delicacies. The town also has modern supermarkets, estate agents, furniture stores, butcheries and bakeries, liquor stores, pharmacies, jewellery stores, nurseries and banks.
The little village of Bathurst has an array of fascinating shops, art galleries, craft shops, antique stores and the like. Make sure that you visit the galleries and craft stores for a fascinating array of goods made by talented local artists. You will also find wonderful restaurants and pubs in the area.
Casual Kenton offers lovely stores for all your basic needs as well as lovely craft stores. Be sure to stop at the lovely bead shop and to visit the pottery studios in and around Kenton.
Try something different & make new friends, whilst getting some exercise & learning a few more skills! The Port Alfred Croquet Club will be happy to teach you the game of Croquet!
The club is part of the Port Alfred Bowling & Croquet Club, which is situated on the town side of the ‘coat hanger bridge’, behind the town Library. Social playing days are Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Saturdays afternoons. For further info please phone Phyl Russell on 046 624 5541/0798727801 or Mercia Kruger 046 624 2639 /0843103282.
There are three bowling clubs close to the hotel.
Kowie Bowling Club: Situated on the Hospital Grounds in Port Alfred. Exccellent greens and friendly Eastern Cape hospitality. Feel free to join for an afternoon of bowls on Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Summer months: (September – April) Tabs in 13.45 for 14.00 and Winter months: (May – September) Tabs in 13:30 for 13:45. 3 Superb bowling greens.
Port Alfred Bowling Club: Situated in the municipal grounds behind the City Hall. Friendly atmosphere – great people.
Kenton Bowling Club: Situated in Recreation Street, Kenton-on-Sea, home to 3 bowling greens.
For nature lovers
Addo Elephant National Park
Elephant viewing at Addo is rated as the best in the world. Visitors have the option of self-drive excursions into the park or they can make use of professional services offered by the Park.
Where to spot birds in Port Alfred: The estuaries at Port Alfred and Boknes are best for waders in summer; Common Greenshank, Whimbrel, Grey plover, Ruddy turnstone and Sandling are common, and there are often Blackwinged plovers on the golf course at Port Alfred.
Alexandria Forest: The Alexandria Forest Reserve is a half hour’s drive from Port Alfred. You require a permit from the office, for which there is a small charge. The office is closed at weekends, and the forester should be contacted in advance.
Boknes: The remote beach at Boknes offers connoisseurs of solitude an opportunity to revel in isolation. Birds abound at the lagoon (in the tiny village of Boknes) and the beaches give one a chance to watch the sea birds in their glory.
Kowie River: A leisurely trip up the Kowie River is a birding adventure, particularly in the quieter upper reaches of the river.
Sibuya Game Reserve offers daily trips onto the reserve hosted by a professional guide. A leisurely cruise up the Kariega River is followed by a three hour game drive and a delicious picnic lunch on the banks of the river. A slow cruise back to Kenton-on-Sea is a fitting end to a wonderful experience with nature.
Bespoke packages can be arranged for birders, year-end functions and other celebrations.
Sibuya Game Reserve Day trips and packages
Woody Cape Dassie Trail: This delightful hiking trail is set the beautiful Alexandria Forests. There are two options for booking – contact the Woody Cape office on 046-653-0601 or email email@example.com.
Assegaai Trails: Day walks from 3.5km – 14km, or 2-3 days hikes. 1 km tree trail available. Hike through riverine forest, grassland and kloofs. Naturally occurring game and over 180 species of birds. 046 622 8619 or www.assegaaitrails.co.za
Belton Hiking Trail: Various trails through forest, bush and pineapple farm. 082 808 6139
Cannon Rocks Hiking Trail: 7km from Cannon Rocks through indigenous forest and back through the spectacular shifting dunes and along the beach.
Dias Cross: Walk along the beach 1 1/2 hours from Bushmans River Mouth or 1 hour from Boknes lagoon.
Waters Meeting Reserve: 174ha reserve has 3 trails (3 – 9km) through coastal dune forest and river edge. Abundance of bird life and naturally occurring game. Picnic spots with braai areas and toilets are available. Accessible by canoe from Kowie River. 079 496 7979
Chappies Cushion: A beautifully marked trial through this exquisite game farm situated just outside of Bathurst is yours to explore. For more information contact 082-494-3025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Port Alfred Trail Tree guide available from tourism office. Stroll through the little town, amble along the river. View the historical sites and places of interest (map available). Extensive and beautiful walks along the beaches.
Kowie Nature Reserve: The Nature Conservation Department of the Ndlambe Municipality has created the Kowie Hiking Trail, not only as an estuarine and scenic attraction in itself, but also as an off-shoot of the Kowie Canoe Trail. The Hiking Trail involves a two-hour walk of eight kilometres inside the Kowie Nature Reserve on land which was once part of the commonage. The reserve is open between 07h00 and 17h00. Rangers: Charles 076-557-1324 or Mjali 046-625-0876 / 079-496-7979
Blaauwkrantz Reserve: To date 215 plant species have been identified here, and over 185 species of birds. Rare endangered Sandelia Banseii freshwater fish in the pools. Access R67 to Bathurst.
With the fantastic scenery and shoreline in and around Port Alfred there are lots of horse-riding options available for all riding abilities. The various operators offer different specialities from intimate big-game viewing on game reserves and beach rides to exciting river crossings. There is a good selection of rides available whatever your age group.
3 Sisters Horse Trails: 082 645 6345
Beachcombers Horse Trails: 083-281-3322
Kumbula Indigenous Nursery
Kumbula Indigenous Nursery is situated in the picturesque 1820 Settler village of Bathurst, around 20 minutes’ drive from the Royal St. Andrews Hotel. Over 300 varieties of indigenous plants on offer.
Hunting and fishing
The Eastern Cape, South Africa’s leading game hunting province by far, is a sought-after destination for hunters from all over the world. The area is malaria free, and the well-controlled industry is fully sustainable.
The area boasts more than 800 game farms, 500 game ranches and 300 mixed stock game ranches.
Fishing permits are available from the Post Office at a nominal fee. You can fish in our rivers, estuaries and oceans. Please note that there are areas where bait collection and fishing are prohibited.
Friendly skippers will take you out fishing in the deep blue sea. Rods, reels and bait are supplied, so you just need to bring warm clothing, hat, sun block, snacks and drinks. Please Note: You need a fishing license, which is available from any post office for a small fee.
Outdoor Focus: 046 624 4432.
The Port Alfred River and Ski Boat Club, situated on the banks of the Kowie River, hosts competitions, such as the Tuna Classic. There are numerous fishing competitions throughout the year in Port Alfred and surrounds. For more information go to: http://www.parsc.co.za/events
Charters are also available.
The Sunshine Coast has a rich tapestry of history spanning the Koi and San peoples, Frontier Wars, Settlers, and the anti-apartheid struggle. Take a fascinating journey through Settler Country.
Heritage Maps are available from the hotel for self-guided heritage tours.
43 Air School Museum: Situated off the R67 to Bathurst. Open by appointment. Free admission. This little museum has a lovely collection of aviation memorabilia and depicts the story of 43 Air School through World War 1 and II. Contact: 046 604 3600.
Albany Vintage and Classic Motor Club Museum: Situated at Hawkins Industrial Park, 91 Alfred Road – free entrance (donations welcome). Open on the last Saturday of the month from 9.00 – 12.00 or by appointment. Established in 2010 by the Albany Vintage Club and run by members. The collection includes many beautiful vintage cars and bikes including some rare models. Contact Dave: 082 453 2618.
Bathurst Agricultural Museum: Situated 1km from the Pig & Whistle on the R67 to Grahamstown. Open Monday – Saturday 9.00 – 16.00 (12.00 on Wednesdays and Saturdays). There is an impressive collection of over 1 600 exhibits, ranging from household items, yesteryear toys, ox wagons, buggies, tractors and implements – something of interest for young and old. Children are encouraged to enjoy this museum. Call 079 9879507 to check times.
Bradshaws Mill, Bathurst: A living piece of history. The wool and corn mill is kept running by volunteers the mill is one of the oldest in South Africa. Call to make an appointment to visit. 046 625 0673.
Great Fish Point Lighthouse: One of South Africa’s smallest lighthouses, it casts a beacon light that be seen for up to 32 nautical miles out to sea. The lighthouse is open between 10am and 3pm on week days. Weekends and public holidays are by appointment only. Call before you go to be sure there is someone in attendance. Tel: 021 449 2400.
Kowie History Museum: Situated at the Old Port Alfred Station in Pascoe Crescent. Open Tuesday – Saturday 9.30 – 12.30. Admission R15 Adults; R5 Children under 12. This gem was established in 1982, and moved to their new premises at the Station in 2013. The Kowie History Museum preserves and catalogues and displays records of the town’s history and people. These displays include Victoriana, naval and railway artefacts, photos and paintings of Port Alfred, including Xhosa customs and beadwork. There are extensive 1820 Settler records (Morse Jones cards) and a number of valuable books.
Richmond House Museum: Situated at 19 Wesley Hill, Port Alfred. Open by appointment. Free entrance (donations welcome). Established in 2007 amd traces 175 years of owners and alterations of the former ‘castle’. The museum is a 1948 replica of the castle. You can expect to see information panels, original fireplaces, light fittings, millstone, naval cannons, flagstaff, photos, paintings, Cock family tree, letters and documents. Contact Sue: 082 456 7437.
The Big Pineapple: Situated on the outskirts of Bathurst just off the R67, only 15km from Port Alfred. Open Monday to Sunday 9am – 5pm (Winter Until 4pm) It has been confirmed that Bathurst‘s Big-Pineapple Is the Largest in the World, over the years it has become as one of the tourist attractions in the Sunshine Coast. Call: 046 625 0515.
St John’s Anglican Church Bathurst: The oldest unaltered Anglican Church in South Africa. Prior to its consecration in 1838, it served as a fortress for the locals in the Sixth Frontier War.
Toposcope: Situated above Bathurst, the Toposcope was erected in 1968 by the 1820 Settlers National Monument Committee to show the direction and the distance from the site of the locations of the British families which settled in the area in the 1820s.
Woody Cape – Alexandria forest: from Kenton to Boknes, turn right at the 4-way stop, drive 600m & turn left to Cannon Rocks and then follow the road down ‘the golden mile’ through some of SA’s finest dairy farms, pass Woody Cape, enjoy the magnificent views of the ocean, Bird Island, the southern hemisphere’s largest shifting dunes and then through the Alexandria indigenous forest and on to Alexandria.
(The road can also be accessed from Cannon Rocks. Go straight across the 4-way stop onto a short farm road/track and turn left at the T-junction)
‘Poor man’s game drive’: from Kenton drive 12 kms west (or 13kms east from Alexandria) on the R72, turn right (left if coming from Alexandria) at the sign to Ngcyo & Emlanjeni and take the dirt road flanked by Big 5 game reserves, over the Bushmans River, cross the R343, continue through game reserves, cross the Kariega River onto the Southwell Road and turn right back to the R72 and Kenton. The drive can be as rewarding as anywhere, is ten minutes from Kenton and costs nothing!
(These two drives can easily be combined into one – suggest Woody Cape first. Time required is approximately one and a half hours to ‘whatever’, depending on the number of stops to enjoy the beauty of the scenery and game sightings).
Annual Port Alfred events
Ladies Classic Bowling competition
Hosted at the Kowie Bowling Club in Port Alfred.
Pineapple Cricket Tournament for Ndlambe Clubs hosted in Port Alfred.
The annual Bathurst Show is held over three days every April and attracts large crowds who come to see the huge variety of stalls selling food, arts and craft and exhibitors from the farming trade. See horse jumping, crafts, livestock and soak up the entertainment while enjoying the country carnival. http://www.bathurstshow.co.za
The annual Allan Wilson Eastern Cape Classic is hosted on the two lawns of the Port Alfred Croquet Club which was established in 1985.
The Bathurst Bookfair is the Eastern Cape’s premier show for all books. Browsers delight in searching for literary treasures in the quaint village of Bathurst.
Mad Hatter Golf Tournament
A week of sport and entertainment at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club whose entrance is opposite the Royal St. Andrews Hotel.
National Arts Festival: Grahamstown
The Royal St Andrews provides a comfortable home from home for festinos, many of whom also join us at the seaside for a short break after attending the festival.
Kowie River Festival
A feast of music and fun held on the last Saturday of the National Arts Festival. Fun for the whole family.
Five Royals Golf Tournament
The annual gathering attracts five Royal Golf Clubs and more than 100 visiting players. It is played over three rounds, two at Royal Port Alfred (Friday and Sunday) and one at the Fish River Sun on the Saturday.
One of the oldest ultra-marathons – Runners start in Port Alfred at five in the evening and have to be in East London by 11 pm the next day.
Bathurst Country Affair
A culinary experience bar none. Wine tasting, live music, Bathurst Noo Pet Show, craft beers, pavement pretty, historical tours, buskers and more.
Boat Race Festival
Every September the top rowing teams from across South Africa come to the coastal town of Port Alfred to compete in this prestigious event. The Kowie River is the setting for the events with spectators able to watch and cheer from along the river bank.
Lady’s Bowls Classic at the Port Alfred Bowling and Croquet Club.
Kowie Carnival and Boerewors Competition
A fun day where the proceeds go to charities in the Port Alfred area.
Kelly Foursome at the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club.
Teams from around the country come to Port Alfred for this annual event.
Bathurst Ox Braai
The annual Bathurst Ox-braai, organized by the Shaw Park Country Club is held at the Showgrounds.
Port Alfred Music Festival featuring national and local artists.
The Kowie River Mile open water swimming event.
Sand Castle competitions
Sand sculpture competitions on Kelly’s Beach.