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AAs soon as we turned off the N2 and started our 80km drive to Coffee Bay, I knew that I was going to like this place. The landscape is so raw and beautiful. The green hills scattered with colourful rondavels and free roaming cows seemed endless and I fell in love with them. I probably took about 500 photos on that drive alone.
The roads are bad, but manageable in a normal car. You just need to be alert for potholes and roaming animals. Drive slowly and if you hit any potholes, just get out and make sure that you haven’t burst your tyre before carrying on.
Guide to Coffee Bay
After driving through the rural villages, you’ll eventually get to the main road leading into Coffee Bay. Some of the roads a bit deeper in are sand, but still manageable in a normal car. It was raining when we were there, which made parts of the road between Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall very muddy. They are, however, in the process of tarring the road. Which is a good and bad thing…good for tourism, but bad for keeping the rural and authentic lifestyle that’s there.
Coffee Bay is small, with most accommodations and restaurants located along either the river or the coastline. There are no shops, besides small spaza shops that rarely seemed open. There are also no ATMs, so make sure to draw cash before. I wouldn’t rely on the places having working card machines, so plan to have enough while you’re there. Also take your own groceries if you aren’t planning on dining in the restaurants — even if it’s just water and a few snacks.
DID YOU KNOW?
Coffee Bay got its name after a cargo ship ran aground there many years ago and spilled a shipment of coffee beans all over the beach. The conditions weren’t right for the trees to thrive, but alas the small town got its name.
Coffee Bay Accommodation
The accommodation in Coffee Bay is mostly basic. The area is popular among backpackers (it’s one of the stops along the Baz Bus route), which means that a lot of the accommodation is suited to the backpacker lifestyle. We also came across a few older couples/single men who are ‘throwing it to the wind’ and using Coffee Bay as a chill out zone. There are a few budget-friendly resorts/guesthouses for them.
Because options are limited, it’s recommended to pre-book (opposed to just pitching up), particularly in the high season.
Below are a few options to consider:
Ocean View Hotel
Ocean View Hotel is probably the fanciest place to stay in Coffee Bay. It’s located right on the beach and has its own swimming pool, lounge area, and restaurant. The rooms look lovely and all face the ocean with a private balcony/terrace. They also have bigger family rooms, making this a good option for families.
Coffee Shack Backpackers
Coffee Shack Backpackers is the most well-known backpackers in Coffee Bay. It has a normal backpackers’ vibe, with both dorm rooms and private rooms, as well as camping. They have a shared kitchen, bar, and restaurant. There’s a daily activity program which includes surf lessons, drumming lessons, hikes, drives to popular sunset spots, and themed parties. They apparently have some legendary full moon parties, with free Vodka and Sprite. Everything a backpacker would need is here.
It has a fun atmosphere, with lots of international tourists. It’s the recommended backpackers among travellers using Baz Bus, so it’s quite popular. It’s best to book ahead to make sure that you get the accommodation you want.
FFriends Wild Coast
Friends Wild Coast is located directly opposite to Coffee Shack Backpackers. It has a similar vibe about it, but much quieter and less ‘touristy’. Accommodation includes dorm rooms and private rooms, along with the option to camp. The rooms aren’t the best, but okay for what you’re paying. The best part about Friends is the restaurant. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinnes, with a pizza oven running throughout the day. Breakfast options include French toast, muesli and yoghurt, and eggs and bacon with freshly made Xhosa bread. Each night they make a different dinner, ranging from fresh fish to fish cakes or chicken potjie. They offer a few activities like guided hikes to Hole in the Wall, snorkelling and visits to the local tribes.
Mini guide to Coffee Bay Eastern Cape
WWhite Clay Holiday Resort
White Clay Holiday Resort is located just outside of the ‘busier’ side of Coffee Bay. It has a stunning location, looking out over the sea, with a small private beach down below. White Clay Resort offers full board (dinner, bed and breakfast) as well as rustic self-catering chalets and camping facilities. All rooms are sea-facing.
Five things to do in Coffee Bay
While the beaches in Coffee Bay are beautiful, there are so many activities in and around Coffee Bay that you’ll likely have very little time for relaxing on the beach.
1. Hike to Hole in the Wall
The Wild Coast is all about hiking and taking in the beautiful coastline. Hikes up and down the hills along the coast are a must, including going to visit Hole in the Wall. It’s about an 11km hike to Hole in the Wall from Coffee Bay – one way. You can go on your own or with a local guide.
2. Go Surfing
Surfing is extremely popular in Coffee Bay. The waves are great, particularly for beginners. Both Coffee Shack Backpackers and Friends Wild Coast offer surfing lessons.
3. Mpuzi Cliff and Caves
Join a day trip to go explore the Mpuzi cliff edge and caves, including Bat Cave. You can go yourself, but they are hard to find, so it’s best to go with a guide. This is the best place for some epic cliff jumping.
4. Village Experience
The Transkei is home to the Xhosa people, who still live a very traditional lifestyle. The backpackers in Coffee Bay offer experiences where you can visit the local villages, where you can enjoy a traditional meal, visit a shebeen (local bar), and a sangoma (traditional healer).
5. Eat Seafood
A trip to a seaside destination is not complete without a fresh seafood meal. Both Friends Wild Coast Backpackers and White Clay are great options for seafood – both were delicious, though admittedly not fresh (they both said that their fish was frozen). If you’re after fresh from the sea fish, then chat to the local fishermen. You may be able to pick up the catch of the day to cook for yourself.
The free roaming cows, sheep, and donkeys. The open green fields. The really bad sand roads. The colourful rondavels scattered throughout the hills. The steep cliffs. The spaza shops that are always opening ‘in an hour’. And the quiet beaches. These are what make Coffee Bay special.
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