Nelson Mandela Bay has a lot to offer this Tourism Month.
From the coast to the bush, there’s a lot happening in and around Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage, Despatch and Colchester. Here are seven reasons you need to explore Nelson Mandela Bay.
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1. Get Up Close to Marine Wildlife
Nelson Mandela Bay has some of the world’s most diverse marine life on offer and with a great variety of game reserves and ocean safari experiences within 40km of the city centre, you’re bound to find a memorable experience.
There are six islands in Algoa Bay that were once navigational hazards for sailors but have provided refuge to some of our bird and marine species. Bird Island is one of six breeding sites for the Cape gannet, while this and other islands make up the largest breeding colony of African penguins in the world. You’ll also find Cape fur seals, Cape cormorant, African Oystercatcher, humpback whales, southern right whales, dolphins and various shark species who like to call these islands their home. This wealth of wildlife has resulted in Algoa Bay being named a Hope Site by world-renowned oceanographer Dr Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue. Other titles include Bottlenose Dolphin Capital of the World and Important Bird and Biodiversity Area by Birdlife International, and most recently the Department of Environmental Affairs added it to its list of Marine Protected Areas.
These islands are unfortunately closed to the public and fall under the care of the Addo Elephant National Park, but there are a number of ocean safaris offering to take the keen twitcher and whale watcher out on a jaunt.
2. Home of the Big 7
What is the Big 7? Well, it comprises of the already well-known Big 5, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, black rhino, and lion, with the inclusion of the great white shark and southern right whale.
There are few places that bring the bush and ocean together so seamlessly, but Nelson Mandela Bay is able to do just that. The world-famous Addo Elephant National Park and a multitude of private game reserves and parks can be found within 40km of the harbour allowing a visitor to truly experience Africa’s Big 7 in one day. Enjoy a guided game drive at the Kragga Kamma Game Park in the morning and hop on an ocean safari with AB Marine Charters in the afternoon.
3. Best Beaches
Algoa Bay boasts 40 km of magnificent golden beaches. With its perfect combination of warm water, calm sea and fair breezes, it is one of the best sailing venues in the world and a mecca for all beach and water sport enthusiasts. Water temperatures vary between 18℃ and 21℃ during summer and 14℃ to 19℃ during winter. And we have the international accreditation to prove it with Port Elizabeth receiving three Blue Flag statuses last season. This international seal of approval is given only to those beaches that meet excellence in safety, amenities, cleanliness and environmental standards. South Africa is the first country outside of Europe to win Blue Flag accreditation for its beaches.
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Rest assured, swimming beaches are patrolled by trained professional lifeguards during the summer season, which means swimmers and sunbathers can safely enjoy their beach holiday.
4. Home to Historical and Cultural Treasures
The centrepiece of Nelson Mandela Bay’s arts and culture industry is in Port Elizabeth’s inner city. In an attempt to upgrade the city’s infrastructure, the Mandela Bay Development Agency worked with local artists to give the city a facelift with an artistic twist.
Discover Victorian-style buildings followed by art nouveau, art deco and the latest architectural style in PE’s CBD. It’s home to some of the largest number of art deco buildings in South Africa. Explore all these architectural gems while on the Donkin Heritage Trail, which connects 51 historical sites on a 5km self-guided tour of the city.
On this trail, you’ll find the Donkin Reserve which house the Stone Pyramid Memorial, while the Lighthouse and Campanile will both give you 360° views of the city. A revamp project saw the reserve upgraded to a public art space that showcases magnificent mosaics, abstract art, metal artwork and contemporary graffiti. This collection forms part of 67 pieces of art throughout the city, which can be seen on Route 67, an artistic journey through the city that celebrates the 67 years of Nelson Mandela’s political life. Combining the two routes provides the best way to experience the colonial and political history of the city and offers exciting and scenic photographic opportunities.
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5. Adventure and Family Entertainment for Everyone
Nelson Mandela Bay has loads to offer the young and adventurous, from mountain bike and hiking trails to scuba diving and surfing.
If you’re looking to get the blood pumping, head to Adrenalin Addo, just 50 minutes outside of PE. Perfectly situated in the Sundays River Valley, this adventure park offers visitors the chance to see this beautiful valley from above. It has the longest, highest and fastest double zipline in Africa, an 18m-high giant swing as well as canoeing on the Sundays River.
Watersports are a dime a dozen in Nelson Mandela Bay with Jeffery’s Bay offering swells for surfers, Hobie Beach is for the swimmers and sunbathers, and Humewood Beach is great for snorkeling.
After a day at the beach, take the kids on a walk around Happy Valley, a fairytale park that comes alive at night with colourful lights. Practice your putting skills on the 18-hole putt-putt course at Open Sky Entertainment Park and Lapa. If the weather’s not playing ball, there are a multitude of indoor activities around the city that’ll keep you busy. Try indoor rock climbing at the Valley Crag Indoor Climbing Centre, see how high you can jump at the Gravity Indoor Trampoline Park or ten pin bowling at the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World.
6. Nightlife, Food and Entertainment
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Nelson Mandela Bay is the ideal fun, entertainment and shopping destination; offering various kinds of entertainment to suit every age, personality and individual. Enjoyable evening entertainment includes sundowner cruises, nightclubs, award winning cocktail bars, late night music spots, fine art theater performances, movies, restaurants, and cultural performances.
7. Get Great Discounts with a Nelson Mandela Bay Pass
Do more for less with the Nelson Mandela Bay Pass, a card that gives you free access and discounts to 60 attractions and activities in and around the city. This includes museums, game reserves, scuba diving, art galleries, sightseeing tours and many more. It also entitles you to some great discounts in selected stores for shopping, activities, entertainment and more.
Be sure to get your Nelson Mandela Bay Pass and discover all the excitement that Nelson Mandela Bay has to offer. Simply show or transact your pass and receive the special offers available at the participating facilities. The more you see the more you save.
Words and Photography Courtesy of Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism