Mazeppa Bay really is one of South Africa’s best kept secrets. It’s a tiny village on the remote Wild Coast with one hotel, a few holiday cottages and high dunes towering over gorgeous beaches. Walk, swim, fish, go birding or just lie on the sand and listen to the surf.

Did you know?

Angling at Mazeppa Bay is superb due to the steep continental shelf just off the coastline.

Mazeppa Bay is a rustic little seaside village that clings to the Eastern Cape's spectacular Wild Coast. There's nothing here in the way of resort sophistication: expect simplicity, freedom, family fun and enjoy the sunshine, surf, desolate beaches, walking, birding, superb fishing and a historic suspension bridge.

Why the Portuguese name of Mazeppa for an African seaside village? The story goes that in 1842, the ship Mazeppa was on its way from Delagoa Bay (Maputo Bay today) to Port Natal (Durban) on a rescue mission to save the besieged garrison from the Boers.

It never made it and ran aground at what is now Mazeppa Bay. Legend has it that the ship lies buried under the dunes. Today nobody is hunting for buried treasure, but adults and children alike go sandboarding down the dunes – often on improvised equipment made of cardboard and tea trays.

Generations of the same families have been coming to the Mazeppa Bay hotel and the village's holiday cottages for decades. You'll find all ages of all shapes and sizes going full tilt over Christmas and New Year when 2 hotly contested competitions take place – a sandcastle-building competition and an 'Iron Person' competition.

Contestants pit their creativity and physical prowess against each other on the beach, at darts, ping-pong, tug-of-war and various board games. After the competition, pints are pulled, glasses clinked and winners and losers alike feast on seafood taken from the sea that very day.

The fishing is legendary at Mazeppa Bay. Game and shark fishing reigns supreme, and many fishermen (and women) employ kite-fishing techniques to land the big one, before throwing it back into the Indian Ocean.

And if you want to walk, stroll along the aptly named Mile Beach, or venture into the Manubi Forest.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Mazeppa Bay Hotel
Tel: +27 (0) 47 498 0033
Email: mazeppabayhotel@saient.co.za

How to get here

Take the N2 from East London to Butterworth (approx. 110km). Go through Butterworth and after 8km turn right at the Mazeppa Bay sign. Although the road has been graded, it's still very bumpy. Watch out for little black pigs and goats roaming across the road.

Best time to visit

October through April are the sunny, warm months, although if it’s absolute peace and solitude you’re after then visit during the off-season.

Around the area

A short drive away is the Manubi Forest, one of South Africa’s few remaining indigenous forests.

Get around

It's a small village so on foot or bicycle is the best bet.

Where to stay

The Mazeppa Bay Hotel is the only hotel in town. Beach cottages are also available to rent.

What to eat

Fresh seafood, including superb mussels and prawns.

Best buys

The local Xhosa women make beautiful bead necklaces, bangles and Christmas tree decorations. They sit on the beach and display their wares.