Port Elizabeth, the biggest town making up Nelson Mandela Bay, is famous for its more than 40 kilometres of beautiful shoreline. What makes the many beaches of PE really special is how very different they are from one another.
From pristine stretches of uninterrupted white sands and turquoise waters to rugged hideaways that are littered with teeming rock pools that meet the scrubby vegetation on the dunes. There are beaches for surfing, sun-tanning, swimming, snorkelling, SCUBA diving, or just playing on the shore.
For generations, the Port Elizabeth beaches have lured visitors from all over the world, and especially from other places in South Africa, to visit the Friendly City and experience its magnificent coastline.
The best known beaches in Port Elizabeth are
This beach has earned favour amongst locals and tourists alike for its long stretch of sandy shore with plenty of place to soak up the sun. There are no rocks here, and the water is relatively tame. This beach is ideal for swimming and surfing, and many young families spend summer days enjoying the crystal-clear waters of King’s Beach.
This is probably the most popular beach, although fairly small in comparison to some others. It is situated just below the famous Shark Rock Pier and has loads of restaurants, bars and other facilities within a very short walking distance. Within a small area, this beach offers a combination of great swimming, surfing hotspots and even fun rock pools.
This is the only Blue Flag beach in the city; a status that is difficult to earn and well respected. There is shade, provided by the promenade overhead, and safe bathing waters that are ideal for little ones. Happy Valley is a few metres away from the sandy beach, providing a great picnic spot.
Sometimes called Summerstrand Beach, this is famous for its great surfing waves. To the extreme left of the beach is a fabulous splash pool formed naturally out of rock, which is the perfect option for children that can’t yet brave the waves. There is also plenty of room on the shore to suntan, build sandcastles or toss a ball to one another.
Situated on the opposite side of PE to the other swimming beaches, Sardinia Bay is a little more on the wild side. Although absolutely beautiful, the rip tides can get quite intense at times and families with young children should stick to the many rock pools. Towering sand dunes make great slides and there are a number of short walks that take visitors to secluded pools. This is, without a doubt, a beach to explore. There are designated areas at which to braai as well as a parking area.
There are, of course, many more beaches. However, these are sometimes not as safe for swimming. Maitlands, for example, is breath-taking in beauty and fabulous for long walks, but not recommended for the purposes of swimming or frolicking in the waves due to the unpredictability of the tides.
Regardless of where you choose to swim, always exercise caution. Listen to the lifeguards and never visit the beaches after sunset.
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