24 January 2013 by Ems Tsotetsi

Going Homeless Project nearly finds a home ...

The Coffee Shack in Coffee Bay, situated right on the beach at the mouth of the Bomvu River in the Eastern Cape, offers far more than just accommodation ...

Welcome to Coffee Bay

This week, we feature a blog post by Stuart Cooper from The Going Homeless Project.

The Coffee Shack is a near-perfect backpacking experience. Initially the plan was to stay three days ... but it ended up being closer to two weeks. The Going Homeless Project’s only complaint was that I had to leave. Reluctantly.

I can’t recall having as much fun as I did during my stay at the Coffee Shack, which included an epic crowd of travellers, unbelievably friendly staff, great facilities, a beautiful location and and and ...

I can’t actually wax lyrical enough about Coffee Bay and the Coffee Shack, so I‘ll just give you some facts and advise you to drink with your left hand. And if you’re planning to stay less than a week, expect to change your departure date. Probably more than once.


Everything in coffee bay is a landscape Everything in coffee bay is a landscape


The Coffee Shack accommodation comes in dorms, doubles or you can opt for the more chilled accommodation across the river. There was a self-catering kitchen, but the epic chow coming out of the Coffee Shack's kitchen meant I didn’t really bother. Breakfasts range from healthy to fry-ups (often needed to add steel after the previous night's festivities).


Sundowners Sundowners


It also has undoubtedly some of the best Joe (coffee) I have drunk, and my mornings often started with a few lattes before I was willing to engage my brain. Dinner is 50 bucks (R50), and aside from being delicious, you could probably feed two for each portion served. It also offers a damn good vegetarian option.


Coffee bay, an epic place to be lazy ... and active Coffee bay, an epic place to be lazy ... and active


The Coffee Shack offers a bunch of in-house activities at 60 bucks (R60) a person. You get its legendary toasties, killer local knowledge by the hiking guides, Jerry and Bra Jon, and the surf instructors, Neil and Dan. After a day of absorbing the absolute beauty of Coffee Bay and a good deal of beer, I plunged into the in-house day trips.


Beach day … turning ordinary humans in to surfers Beach day … turning ordinary humans in to surfers


The Shack’s Beach Day is a laid-back way to get your chillax on – and a good place to start. Essentially it’s a group surf lesson. Kind conditions, in-depth lessons and individual attention have you up and riding waves in no time. Of all the lessons I witnessed, the success rate of non-surfer to beginner was pretty much 100%. The rest of the afternoon is given over to free surf time to fine-tune your skills.


Beach day Beach day


You can also rent wetsuits and boards if you just want to take the plunge by yourself. If you want to learn how to surf, I am fairly certain Coffee Shack’s surf school is the place to do it. It’s also by far the most affordable I have encountered, and probably the most successful I have witnessed.


Hole in the Wall Hole in the Wall


The Hole in the Wall hike, which pretty much took the whole day, is another activity you really should do. Along the way, guides Jerry and Jon give you the skinny on the history, culture and flora at the various stops, which inevitably have incredible views over the coastline. I encountered undoubtedly some of the most picturesque scenery I have ever seen.


Hiking to Hole in the Wall Hiking to Hole in the Wall


The hike itself isn’t too strenuous, and regular breaks with aforementioned views make it manageable, even for those with giant hangovers. Hole in the Wall is a pretty cool place, and most of our group plunged into the warm waters after the usual toasties for lunch, before relaxing under the trees and just appreciating the stunning landscape.


Mapuzi Cave Mapuzi Cave


I did the Mapuzi Cliffs hike with a little nervousness in my stomach – I am not good with heights, especially when I have to jump off them. Again, the hike is relatively chilled, and considerably shorter than the Hole in the Wall. After visiting the cave, the natural jacuzzi and being blown away by the coast – it really is hard to get over how beautiful and untouched it is – it was on to the jumps. Everyone did a 5m cliff jump into the ocean, myself included (Conquer fear. Check.), after which we made our way back to the river for another jump and on to a lazy lunch by the Mapuzi River.


The cliff jump The cliff jump


The village walk is a great introduction to the local people, villages and culture. A visit to the sacred pools and a local lunch of pap and stew with one of the families in the village, followed by a visit to the local shebeen for some beer, rounds off a very cruisy day. It’s the easiest of the hikes and well worth it. There are also some epic photo opportunities.


University of Afritude University of Afritude


Having done all the activities, I settled in for some relaxation and it didn’t take long until I was struggling to leave; Coffee Shack gets you in a way that is hard to explain. I met so many cool people, many of whom I would now consider friends, and this I think is the crux of Coffee Bay and the Coffee Shack – they create an environment to not only enjoy and experience the beauty of the area, but to get to know people beyond the usual 'where are you from and where are you going?'. And this is what makes the Coffee Shack such a special place.


Coffee Bay … its like heaven, with beer and cool people Coffee Bay … its like heaven, with beer and cool people


Pay them visit and expect to stay a lot longer than you intend. I am already planning my next visit. Thanks to Dave and Bel for the incredible stay at the Coffee Shack, Cindy for all her help, knowledge and laughs, and to the folks I met – it was great to meet you, I hope we do again soon. Thanks also to Hi South Africa for organising.

Just an aside – the Coffee Shack is running an excellent project, a non-profit association, Sustainable Coffee Bay, to promote sustainable development within the greater Coffee Bay area.

Read more about the good work the Coffee Shack is doing here.

Category: Attractions

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