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Posted on: Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Discovering Coffee Bay

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Tucked away along South Africa’s Wild Coast is the little area of Coffee Bay.  I’m not sure if it was the name or what my imagination conjured up, but for the longest time it has been a mystical place for me.  Somewhere far from Cape Town in a rural place along the coast.

Now as I lay on the bed in our hut on the hill, I could see the green hill to the right jutting out over the ocean, the large aloe in the garden, a wooden gate keeping the cows out and the river moving steadily in with the tide. For the next two nights, this chunk of paradise at Coffee Shack would be our home…




As with any city dweller, it takes one awhile to get used to the sounds, smells and sights once you travel away from it all.  I loved everything about it, but sometimes got a fright when I left my front door to find a cow munching grass right beside me.  At night I would hear chewing sounds and peek outside to see horses who found a spot to graze in the evening.

Thank goodness for a righteous espresso machine at Coffee Shack, on top of superb homemade food, the coffee was definitely a highlight and totally kept the name and idea of a ‘Coffee Bay’ alive for me.  When we weren’t meeting loud, awesome backpackers around the pool table and fireplace, we were at the beach.


Coffee Bay


Instructor Neal took us out onto the beach one morning for a surf lesson. Even though we surf in Cape Town, I figured a refresher with a new instructor couldn’t hurt especially as he has seven years’ worth of experience to share.  We lay down on the sand and repeatedly practiced the new stand-up method he has taught me.  I altered my own ‘jump’ approach to what I like to call his ‘yoga plank step-up’.   I found it gave me a lot more time to check my balance before committing to the waves.

An excellent teacher he helped us catch wave after wave, assisting us with every element of our stand-up and paddle.  It had been awhile since I’d surfed and I was having the best time right before my arms run out of steam. I got out of the water just before the rain, but got to enjoy watching him ride the waves into the shore for what seemed like an age.


Coffee Bay


After a world-class breakfast the next morning, I walked out onto the closest beach which was rocky and squashed into a tiny bay.  Rusty, the resident dog at Coffee Shack, accompanied me to the beach and proceeded to bark at random rocks. I passed a grey donkey that seemed to out of place here on the shore. That was until a family of three goats passed me and quickly sidestepped past me and trotted down onto the rocky beach towards the mountain.

Local ladies from the village saw me go and followed me out onto the beach and displayed their colourful beads for me. Just as they left another woman coming from the neighbouring beach saw him and took the plastic bag off from her head.  She too tried to sell me beads before smiling and moving on.


Coffee Bay


There’s nothing quite like having to cross a river every day on your way to eat or back home at night before bed.  Often when the tide was high, I would just jump on my husband’s back and let him brave the gently flowing river with his slip slops.  Together with the river, a coastal walk over the hills, vibey staff and wonderful people, Coffee Bay was a great escape along the Wild Coast.

Coffee Bay Info:

Thank you to Around About Cars for getting us there on our South African road trip.

Photographs by and © Vaughan McShane


Coffee Bay


Lauren Manuel McShane


Six continents later, Lauren Manuel McShane still has itchy feet and wanderlust for adventure in all corners of the earth. She recently married the love of her life and together they are traveling the world pausing only to find work, take photos and write. She is currently in Asia and sharing everything about her expat life on The Travel Manuel.

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