Sunning itself on South Africa's south eastern seaboard between the Buffalo and Nahoon rivers, and warmed by the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean, East London is a tropical paradise of unspoilt golden beaches.
But this modern city is more than just a pretty face. The first living ceolacanth was found here, and there are traces of fossilised human footprints dating back hundreds of thousands of years. There is also abundant wildlife, bird life and did we mention the golden beaches?
Things To Do In East London
- The East London Aquarium. South Africa's oldest aquarium features a whale walk where you can stroll and spot wild whales (especially between August and November), or watch daily fish, seal and penguin feeding. You might overdose on cuteness though. Open Sunday to Thursday 09:00 to 23:00 and Friday and Saturday 09:00 to midnight. Call 043 705 2637 for more.
- Inkwenkwezi Private Nature Reserve. This malaria-free wildlife reserve is popular for its sunset game drives and unique 'walking with the elephants' experience. Booking essential. Call 043 734 3234.
- Surf. The wave quality -- as long as 500 metres on a good day -- on the Nahoon Reef is considered by the pros as second only to Sunset Beach, outside of Hawaii. Rent boards from the Sugarshack. Or take lessons from experienced surfers on the beach. Group lessons start from R180.
- The East London Museum. This almost 100-year-old institution s considered to be one of the best in the country. The coelacanth that everyone talks about is exhibited here along with the oldest human footprints ever found, a Xhosa beadwork collection, an excavation of a massive fossil reptile skull and skeleton, displays of maritime history, and a whole lot more. Call 043 743 0686 for times and prices.
Fun Family Things To Do In East London
- The Gonubie Mouth Bird Sanctuary. The eight-hectare reserve, just 20km outside East London is a showcase of the many-varied bird life in the gorgeous Eastern Cape. Home to about 160 different bird species, there is a walking route and a bird hide overlooking a lake.
- Horseback Riding On The Beach. Go horseback riding on the beach with the beautiful Indian Ocean on one side of you and the magnificient dunes of the Wild Coast on the other. Under the watchful eye of a professional guide, visitors can enjoy a variety of trails, including half- and full-day outings. There a nummber of companies that specialise in horseback expeditions. Check out Wild Coast Horseback Adventures. Call 082 567 0972.
- Do A Paddle. Areena Riverside Resort just north of East London has a host of action-packed aquatic adventures. The more energetic can go out on a sea kayak, hire a pedal boat or take a canoe trail. Or, for a more laid-back experience, try a river cruise. Call 043 734 3055 for prices and bookings.
- Go Go-Karting. The grown ups pretend to spend hours here for their kids, but they actually enjoy it ust as much! Electric Avenue offers a safe and controlled but fast, exciting race circuit. Contact them on 043 726 9727.
The Best Beaches In East London
- The spectacular beaches of the Eastern Cape are world-famous, and for good reason. Here is a short list of some of the most memorable in East London ...
- Bonza Bay. Adjacent to the Quinera Lagoon, Bonza Bay is the best of both worlds, with masses of perfect gold sand for sun bathing and warm waves for swimming plus fishing and birding opportunities around the lagoon. Perfect for picnics and long walks on the strand.
- Gonubie Beach. Just 25 kilometres north of the city at the Gonubie River mouth, Gonubie beach has a boardwalk for fantastic sea views, beachcombing at the river mouth, man-made tidal pools and abundant vegetation. It has international Blue Flag status which means it is truly pristine and unpolluted.Cove Rock. This renowned whale-watching spot below some spectacular sandstone formations while not a swimmers' paradise is an amazing place to observe nature and ust spend time on the beach. Surfers and divers will love Cove Rock.
- Eastern Beach. Just opposite Marina Glen is Eastern Beach is one of the city's most central, popular beaches with changing rooms, food and refreshment stalls and golden sand dunes.
- Gulu Beach. An anglers' paradise, Gulu Beach also makes for wonderful warm days in the summer months, when the wide beach at the seaward end of the Gulu River offers safe swimming conditions under the watchful eye of professionl life guards.
- Igoda Beach. Igoda Beach is a lovely wide-open beach for safe swimming, and long lazy afternoons spent picnicking on well-forested sand dunes and a river.
- Nahoon Beach. Arguably East London’s best-known beach, Nahoon is a surfer’s and swimmer’s paradise. Think kilometres of uncrowded and unpolluted sand and sea that produces some of the best waves, particularly at the famous reef.
- Orient Beach. East of the Buffalo River, the glorious golden Orient Beach takes its name from the Russian vessel called the SS Orient ran aground on the shore here in 1907. Perfect for swimming and sunbathing all year round.
East London's Climate
East London has a humid, sub-tropical climate with no true dry season, there is a drying trend in the winter (June to August), with the wettest times of year being spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May). There is also a shorter and lesser dry period in December and January.
East London Airport
Welcoming 620 000 passengers a year, between 20 and 30 flights land at East London Airport each day. The airport is close to downtown East London and has all the conveniences the modern traveller would expect.