Grahamstown to Port Elizabeth – the Coastal Route
Did you know?
The world-famous Johannesburg Star newspaper had its origins in Grahamstown as the Eastern Star in 1871.
The best way to begin this ‘coastal caper’ between Grahamstown and Port Elizabeth is to sit on a hill in the early morning above the City of Saints and let historian Alan Weyer relate the story of the Battle of Grahamstown.
Facing a fierce battle group of nearly 10 000 Xhosa warriors, fewer than 400 troops from various British regiments and about 130 sharp-shooting Khoikhoi buffalo hunters won the day. And no one tells it better than Alan Weyer.
Moved and curious to explore the rest of the city, we venture down to the High Street, which is thronged with Rhodes University students going to and from lectures. We visit Fables Bookshop before sitting down to an early lunch at the nearby Rat & Parrot.
In the afternoon, we take a leisurely drive eastwards to the Settler village of Bathurst, where we check into the legendary Pig ‘n Whistle Hotel with its slogan that reads: ‘There is no thirst like Bathurst.’
The ‘Pig’ is said to be the oldest licensed pub in South Africa, having been originally established in 1825 by Thomas Hartley, a blacksmith from Nottinghamshire in England. Hartley served good ale, pulled the occasional misbehaving tooth, supplied provisions to the local settlers, shod their horses and ran a top-class smithy at the same time. Multi-tasking is not a recent invention, it seems.
We then explore the rest of Bathurst: the little bookshop, the toposcope, Bradshaw’s Mill, the exquisite little Settler churches, the Waters Meeting at the Kowie River Horseshoe Bend and, just before dinner, the pub across the road at the Bathurst Arms.
The next day we head for the Sunshine Coast – you’re going to love the beaches along this stretch of the Eastern Cape. They’re wide, wonderfully empty and clean. Of course, the Sunshine Coast offers a lot more than splendid isolation – there are good restaurants, adventure activities and cultural outings available.
Tonight we’re staying over at the Halyards Hotel in Port Alfred – right on the fabled Royal Alfred Marina. The design of the buildings around here will remind you of the Cape Cod-style of coastal architecture from the United States: nautical mansions with wide balconies and splendid sea views.
Our day at Port Alfred is full of choices: a round of golf, a visit to the small boat harbour, a stroll down Wharf Street and a bite to eat at one of the restaurants. After supper we relax with a nightcap and listen to the Indian Ocean in an idyllic setting before turning in for the night.
Good morning! Today we continue on the R72 south to Kenton-on-Sea and Bushmans River, where we visit one of the famous private game reserves for a Big 5 encounter in the bush.
The afternoon will be spent enjoying a long, late lunch within sight of the sea, followed by a walk down the beach.
The next day we head through Alexandria towards Port Elizabeth, with a quick stop at the Woody Cape Nature Reserve for a look at the massive local dune system. Then we’re on the N2 and zipping into the Friendly City, shaking the beach sand from our toes...
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Makana (Grahamstown) Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)46 622 3241
The Pig ‘n Whistle (Bathurst)
Tel: +27 (0)46 625 0673
Sunshine Coast Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)46 624 1235