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LOCAL TIME: 07:16 pm | Tuesday, 21 September
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East London Beaches, Eastern Cape

East London has a coastline of magnificent unspoiled beaches. From miles of sandy shores, much of which is backed by forested coastal dunes with inviting secluded picnic spots, to rocky reefs, ideal for anglers.

A plethora of rivers run into the sea providing natural lagoons that not only shelter birds and wildlife, but also offer estuarine fishing, boating, safe swimming and other water sports. There are excellent surfing spots and divers can enjoy the many shipwrecks along the coast. With the mild climate all year round, East London beaches offer you options from bustling to remote.

Central Beaches

Orient Beach, East LondonOrient beach: East of the river mouth and closest to the city, this is a popular beach with families. It is protected from the sea by the pier and has everything a holiday maker could want – a freshwater pool, playground, water slides and other child-friendly attractions, changing facilities and a refreshment kiosk. It is close to beachfront hotels and shops and the surrounding area has grassed lawns and benches.  Since 1847, about 150 ships have been wrecked within a 5km radius of the Buffalo harbour, but the only visible wreck is the Orient, which can be seen at low tide from Orient Beach. Walk along the Esplanade from Orient Beach towards Nahoon for a real breath of fresh air and beautiful sea views. Please note that Orient Beach charges a fee for use of the facilities – R15 for adults and R12 for children (summer prices, subject to change).

Eastern Beach East LondonEastern beach: This beach, which lies just past the Aquarium on the Esplanade, is also central to the city and is one of East London’s most popular spots, especially with surfers. In its high dunes, the Bat’s Cave area forms a botanical garden and can be explored. Be warned that Eastern Beach is one of ‘the’ beaches come New Year’s Eve and huge crowds are attracted to the beach to celebrate.

Nahoon Beach, East LondonNahoon beach: On the northern headland, between the point and Nahoon River are kilometres of beautiful white sand backing up onto huge forested dunes that continue inland to the nearest suburbs.

This is a popular swimming beach and Nahoon Reef is a well-known surf spot and setting for surfing competitions. Take the boardwalk to Nahoon Point (Nahoon Reef) reserve.

Nahoon River Picnic Spot, East LondonThe Nahoon River Mouth is home to fishermen, and the mudflats of the Nahoon estuary with its mangroves, attract a variety of birds including Coromorants, Kingfishers and Sandpipers.

Further up the river, you will find this tranquil and beautiful Nahoon River picnic spot, quite a hidden little gem in East London. It is located near the bridge which separates the suburbs of Nahoon and Beacon Bay.


Beaches North of East London

Beacon Bay Beach, East LondonBeacon Bay (previously called Bonza Bay) is reached off the M8 (Bonza Bay Road) and is 14km from East London. The beach is reached via a walkway from the parking area and flanks attractive coastal forest and a nature reserve. The sandy beach lies just off the Quinera Lagoon and offers good fishing, birding and swimming. The dunes here provide great secluded spots to chill out or enjoy a picnic.


Gonubie Beach, East LondonGonubie Beach, off the N2 at the M10, is 23km from East London. The wide sandy beach at its mouth stretches south for a kilometre before reaching the rocks that line the Gonubie shore. The beach has a boardwalk that provides inspiring views over the sea and there are man-made tidal pools and abundant vegetation. The river is navigable for 4km and is popular with fishermen; rock angling options abound, with heavy tackle being used at the mouth. There is also an attractive riverside picnic area. The 8ha Gonubie Nature Reserve comprising two vleis and a marshland alongside a coastal dune is popular with birders – more than 100 species have been identified here and can be observed from hides.

Sunrise on Sea, East LondonRainbow Valley and Sunrise on Sea are secluded, undeveloped spots on the coast. Turn off the R102 about 19km north of East London towards Sunrise on sea and follow a gravel road for about 10km.

Popular with anglers for its good reefs, the unspoiled beaches offer a great day out.


Beaches South of East London

West Bank Day Trip: Drive out from East London on the R72 for 9km until you reach Parkridge Road (M18). Turn left towards the coast and the first resort you will reach after crossing the Hickman’s River is Leach Bay where the main attraction is the swimming pool. The next stretch of beach is rockier and is mainly used by anglers, but you will soon come to a vast manmade tidal pool where the water world complex offers swimming, sailing, water-skiing, boardsailing, a super-tube, paddling pools, speed rides, river cascades and boating. This complex is open in the summer only.

Shelley Beach East LondonAt this point the road goes inland linking the old Grand Prix Racetrack to the R72 via Potter’s Pass. The Potter’s Pass reserve is home to over 70 species of wildflower that burst into colour in Spring and early Summer.

Return to the coast and you will reach the grassy picnic sites of Shelly Beach which is known for the myriad of shell that get washed up there. Eventually the road will link back to the R72 just before the Buffalo River Bridge.

Cove Rock, one of the country’s most remarkable sandstone formations, is 14km south of East London. It has pounding surf on three sides of the rock and a beautiful beach stretching back to coastal forest on the fourth. It is a kilometre walk to the rock from either Cove Rock Park picnic area or from the Rockclyffe-on-Sea holiday resort. If you are a birder, this walk is well rewarded with perhaps the widest variety of waders and sea birds on this stretch of coast. This is a perfect fishing spot but not a real swimming beach because of the backwash. If the weather is windy, this beach is very exposed and rogue waves can be a danger to anglers.

Igoda Beach, East LondonIgoda Beach, 26km from East London, is a wide open beach with well-forested sand dunes and a river that provides safe bathing. Access is from the little village of Winterstrand, where you can park. There are some large sand dunes, so take your cardboard and try and “surf” them.

The road to Igoda runs alongside a nature reserve which has many flowering plants best seen in Spring and early Summer.


Gulu Beach Eastern CapeGulu Beach, 29km from East London, is mainly frequented by recreational anglers.

However, it makes for a wonderful day trip during Summer, when the wide open beach at the Gulu River Estuary offers safe swimming conditions with lifeguards.

It’s a beautiful beach that isn’t very popular, so you are almost guaranteed undisturbed beach time.

Kidds Beach East LondonKidd’s Beach, 36km from East London, is a popular holiday resort, with families returning year after year. Situated alongside the Mcantsi River and its lagoon, this is a wonderful spot for the whole family, with a tidal pool, swimming beaches, river boating, body and board surfing and great fishing.

There is a restaurant at the parking area, green lawns and benches, and an abundance of Bed and Breakfasts.

Kayzers Beach East LondonKayser’s Beach, 47km from East London, is a favourite fishing spot. The rocks in front of the parking are a good angling spot, as are the rocks reached after quite a long walk to the right from the parking area. These rocks are only accessible at low tide.

The beach itself goes on for miles and is certainly uncrowded. The shells and rock pools provide hours of entertainment for kids, but because of the strong backwash it is not recommended for swimming.

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