It is little wonder the St Francis region on South Coast of the Eastern Cape has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in South Africa.
Things to see & do when staying in St Francis
Whilst in St Francis there is plenty to see and do and the area is a water sports enthusiasts playground with some of the surfing breaks in the country, canoe & surf-ski paddling both in the sea and on the extensive canal system and on the Kromme River, excellent swimming beaches, water skiing and wake boarding on the Kromme river and at the end of a busy day, a relaxed sundowner cruise on the canals. Excellent hiking and mountain bike trails for the hiker and mountain biking enthusiast and for the keep fit swimmer, a heated 3-lane swimming pool at Liquid Lines which also offers Water Aerobics. Fishermen are well catered for with rock, surf, river and deep sea fishing. For the golfer, St Francis offers two choices – St Francis Links, rated in the top ten South African golf courses and the St Francis Golf club situated in the St Francis Bay village.
St Francis Safaris is the only licensed operator in St Francis Bay and departs from Port St Francis the main hub of South Africa’s calamari fishing industry. The cruise follows the coast taking in the beauty of the scenic reserves, sand dunes and beaches along the way.
August through to November sees the highest success rate providing close encounters with Southern right and humpback whales who visit our waters on their annual migration south. They can often be seen putting on a spectacular show swimming with the numerous pods of dolphin who reside here year round along with penguins, seals and a variety of other bird and marine life. Trips are an hour and a quarter in length and can be enjoyed by anyone keen on an outstanding marine experience. Party/Corporate cruises are also available on request and are tailored to suit..
Cape St Francis Lighthouse: The lighthouse on Seal Point in Cape St Francis is the tallest masonry lighthouse in South Africa and stands a towering 27.75 metres (that the equivalent of a 9-story building). Built in 1878 the lighthouse is still fully operational with a modern radio beacon, fog signal and fog detector.
St Francis Nature Reserve: The reserve incorporates the Irma Booysen Floral Reserve, Seal Bay Nature Reserve, Seal Point Nature Reserve,St Francis Field Nature Reserve and the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve where hikers and birders can enjoy the well marked hiking routes. Enjoy the breathtaking hike along the unique shoreline of the Wild Side to the west of Seal Point as the ocean relentlessly batters the rocky outcrops or enjoy the calmer scenery of the Two Harbours trail from Granny’s Pool to Port St Francis with possible sightings of a Southern Right whale or a pod of Dolphins.
Man-Made Canal System: Famous for its thatched roofed, white walled houses lining the canals, the canals are ideal for swimming, paddling (canoeing or surf-ski,) paddle boarding (or SUP – stand up paddling), fishing and slow (below wake speed) canal cruises.
The Kromme River: A water sport enthusiasts playground from water skiing and wake boarding, wind and kite surfing, sailing, canoe and surf-ski paddling and fishing. The river is navigable to a distance of approximately 10 kilometres and the upper reaches in particular, offer excellent bird watching. At the convergence of Kromme and Geelhoutboom rivers is the four hectare Swan Island Nature Reserve, home to a variety of habitats for water birds.
Port St Francis: The only working private harbour in South Africa, Port St Francis is home to the local squid and hake fleet, recreational yachts and deep sea fishing boats. Families of otters live under the jetties and seals wait in the water for an easy meal. There is a port tour available and several restaurants where you can enjoy lunch or dinner. There are several options for bay cruises and deep sea fishing trips available from the port.
Heritage Eco Centre: Situated at Granny’s pool next to the Community Garden, the centre has a wonderful display of indigenous flowers, shells, history of the village as well as interesting information on dolphins.
Lombardi Game Farm: Situated on the road to Paradise Beach, Lombardi Game farm host some 20 species of game with a large herd on Sable Antelope as well as Springbok, Rhino, Giraffe, Wildebeest and Zebra amongst others. Those wishing to explore further afield there are many options….
Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area: Declared a World Heritage Site, the 192 000 hectare conservation area incorporates seven biomes and is home to an amazing diversity of habitat types and species – from forest yellowwoods to Karoo bossies, thicket spekboom to fynbos proteas. A nature lovers paradise!
Tsitsikamma: An two hour form St Francis and you can explore the Tsitsikamma Forest on the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, a unique eco-wilderness adventure through the magnificent Tsitsikamma indigenous rainforest. The canopy tour involves traversing from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended up to 30 meters above the forest floor. For added excitement go by tube down the Storms River or explore the Storms River mouth in a kayak or hike the various trails. For the adrenaline junkie a bungie jump off the highest bungie in the world at Bloukrans bridge.
The Crags: The highlight of a trip to Tsitsikamma carry on towards Plettenberg Bay where you can visit The Crags and the Monkey Land Primate Sanctuary, The Birds of Eden,Adventure Land , the Elephant Sanctuary, Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary and the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre.
Van Stadens River Mouth: Going shopping in Port Elizabeth for the day? Well take the scenic route from Jeffreys Bay (the R102) that will take you over the old narrow guage bridge that crosses the Gamtoos River and then see the impressive van Stadens River Bridge form below as you travel through the bottom of the river gorge. Take a small picnic and stop and walk down the van Stadens river before continuing on to Port Elizabeth.
Addo Elephant National Park: A mere 2.5 hours drive from St Francis gets you to the Addo Elephant National Park home to the Big 7. Now the third largest national park in South Africa, Addo Elephant National Park has expanded to conserve a wide range of biodiversity, landscapes, fauna and flora. Stretching from the semi-arid Karoo area in the north around Darlington Dam, over the rugged Zuurberg Mountains, through the Sundays River Valley and south to the coast between Sundays River mouth and Bushman’s river mouth, Addo covers about 180 000 hectares (444 700 acres) and includes the Bird and St Croix Island groups. The original elephant section of the park was proclaimed in 1931, when only eleven elephants remained in the area. Today this finely-tuned ecosystem is sanctuary to over 600 elephant, lion, buffalo, black rhino, spotted hyena, leopard, a variety of antelope and zebra species, as well as the unique Addo flightless dung beetle, found almost exclusively in Addo. The park can exclusively claim to be the only national park in the world to conserve the “Big 7” – the Big 5 as well as the southern right whale and great white shark off the Algoa Bay coast.
Port Elizabeth: If you are missing city life and need a small booster or need something not available in St Francis or Jeffreys Bay, Port Elizabeth is an hours drive away.