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Tourism in the city was initially built on the local family market and offers a delightful variety of children’s activities. Several animal touch farms can be found in and around Port Elizabeth and are a child’s paradise where farm-life can be experienced first-hand by feeding, caring and learning about farm animals.
Various coffee shops and nurseries also offer playgrounds and children’s entertainment. So enjoy a cup of coffee in peace while your child is playing in a safe environment.
There are a variety of country restaurants that provide wonderful outdoor play areas for the kids. Fresh air and plenty of exercise, made even better by a yummy meal, are the order of the day. The picturesque countryside will surely take your breath away – ensuring a very pleasant and relaxing experience for all.
A wide selection of restaurants throughout Port Elizabeth have expanded their premises to incorporate a ‘playroom’ of sorts – with climbing structures, televisions and computer games to keep the younger patrons entertained. In most instances there is a supervisor who is responsible for keeping the kids happy and preventing any potential mayhem!
Blue Flag Beaches
South Africa is the first country outside of Europe to win Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches. Port Elizabeth’s Humewood Beach, Hobie Beach, Wells Estate Beach and King’s Beach have all been awarded Blue Flag status over the years. The Blue Flag is an international award given only to those beaches that meet excellence in safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards.
For those families who enjoy spending time together on the beach there are several to choose from in Port Elizabeth.
King’s Beach is a magnificent 1,6 km wide expanse of golden sand extending from the harbour wall to Humewood. The beach is ideal for safe swimming, body surfing, sunbathing and long beach walks, and includes facilities such as supertubes for the adventurous, a snack bar, parking area, change-rooms and a lifesavers’ centre.
The popular Hobie Beach, is a favourite for swimming, sunbathing and body surfing, and also offers sheltered rock pools with interesting inter-tidal sea life. Pollock Beach, or the “Pipe” as it is known locally, is favoured by surfers because of its excellent waves and surfing opportunities.
Travel along Marine Drive to the picturesque seaside village of Schoenmakerskop (Schoenies), 24km away, where you will find picnic spots, coves, rock pools and holiday resorts located along the rocky section of the shore. Pods of dolphins have frequently been sighted in the area.
Sardinia Bay, situated between Schoenmakerskop and Sea View, is accessed by travelling along Sardinia Bay Road. This popular beach has picnic facilities and is regarded as one of the best walking and horse riding beaches with miles of unspoiled coastline. Fishing is not permitted as the coast has been declared a Marine Reserve, but snorkelling and scuba diving are allowed and prove to be quite popular due to its abundance of sealife. Sardinia Bay is also the starting point of the very popular eight-kilometre Sacramento hiking trail.
The “Northern beaches” is the term used for a vast stretch of sand dunes and shores which provide superb angling and swimming opportunities. The area includes the following: New Brighton Beach, a large unspoilt beach located just before Bluewater Bay. It has a promenade with cafeteria and children’s’ playground, change rooms, lifesavers’ tower, and offers good swimming and angling opportunities.
Bluewater Bay has a magnificent stretch of beach. Facilities at Bluewater Bay include a car park, children’s’ playground and ablution facilities, good swimming, fishing and surfing opportunities.
The McArthur Baths Swimming Pool Complex, located on the Kings Beach promenade and Humewood Beach, was recently upgraded and has become a world-class water recreation facility. It consists of a number of components which include two open-air, warm fresh-water pools, a larger pool, changing rooms, a children’s chute and splash pool. The pools are open in-season, seven days a week, from September to the following April.
Game Farms, Oceanariums and Reptiles
For something completely different there is the Kragga Kamma Game Farm, located within Port Elizabeth – and an easy 15-20 minute drive from just about anywhere in PE! This wonderful game farm provides a home to vast herds of African game, including White Rhino, Buffalo, Cheetah, Giraffe, Zebra, Nyala, Bontebok, Lechwe and many more species. All the animals roam freely, unrestricted in natural, lush coastal forest and grassland environs. This owner-operated park, where no hunting or other disturbance of the game is permitted, means that you always get up close to the game.
Take a drive in your own vehicle through the park on the well-maintained roads (no need for 4x4s) and enjoy viewing the game in any weather conditions from the comfort of your car. For those really close encounters, choose the 2-hour tour in an open game vehicle with a professional guide providing you with interesting information on the animals and the historical background of the area. The kids will love this! The park also offers a wonderful restaurant area with a viewing deck and protected boardwalk for a light stroll through the vegetation.
Bay World Oceanarium and Museum transfers the visitor into the incredible world of the ocean and offers popular seal presentations daily. Exhibits within the Oceanarium include an underwater observation area in the aquarium, various smaller tanks for 40 different species of bony fish, as well as two larger tanks housing sharks and stingrays. Unfortunately, the Oceanarium is undergoing extensive renovations, and is currently closed. However, their educational museum, dinosaur park and reptile enclosure are open to the public.
The Seaview Game and Lion Park, just outside Port Elizabeth, is set in 100 hectares of bush and grassland, and offers close-up game viewing of over 40 animal species. Rare white lion and Siberian tigers can be viewed in separate dens, whilst birding is plentiful. There are also often lion cubs for the kiddies to hold, and this great family venue offers a curio shop, restaurant, boma and a braai/picnic area!
For the not-so-squeamish, The Boma Reptile World will introduce you to the slithery world of snakes, lizards, geckos and tortoises! You might even be allowed to hold their 24kg Burmese Python!
If your children are in to things that are out of this world, another option is to visit the Port Elizabeth People’s Observatory if you are interested in astronomy and wish to be informed about the stars and planets and the many wonders of the galaxy.
A host of wonderful things to do
Other super family excursions include ferry rides on the Sundays River, a tour around the Auto Pavilion at the VW plant in Uitenhage, a visit to the fascinating South African Air Force Museum at the Port Elizabeth Airport, playing paintball, going on an ghost tour around the old parts of PE, visiting a variety of museums and monuments or enjoying a boat-trip out in to the bay to view dolphins, seals , penguins and whales! The choices are endless.
Whatever your tastes – you’ll find something that the whole family will enjoy right here!
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism