While on a backpacking trip that saw me exploring South Africa from Cape Town to Durban I simply had to make a stop along the Wild Coast. From what fellow travellers told me the Eastern Cape sounded simply incredible and boy, oh boy, did Coffee Bay come to the party.
Here are five activities you’ll definitely want to try when travelling to Coffee Bay:
1. Learn to surf
Jeffrey’s Bay may be South Africa’s most-loved surf spot, but Coffee Bay has incredibly warm water and offers surf lessons at a fraction of the price. Coffee Bay is quite small and if you’re staying at the popular Coffee Shack backpackers then your surf lessons are going to cost you a meagre R50 per hour…. or two (they’re so chilled there they don’t really watch the clock religiously). The equipment is great too – the boards are looked after and there is the option of borrowing a second skin or wetsuit if you wish. The lessons start off on the sand, firstly with a safety chat before they teach you the sequence of moves to follow for catching a wave. Then it’s time to hit the water. The instructor gives you one-on-one attention, offering pointers to correct your technique. After my fourth wave-catching attempt I was up, riding my first wave, feeling more alive than ever.
2. Take a drumming lesson
Jah Drums is a backpacker hostel and a space where travellers can sit among locals and learn their way around an African beat on a djembe drum. The evening session I joined in on carried an electric atmosphere with a few regulars treating us to a show where they whacked out trance-inducing rhythms with their mad skills.
3. Hike to Mapuzi Caves
Hike through fields, scale a cliff face on a narrow path, pass cows, dogs and small children. The jagged cliffs drop straight into the ocean where the fast-paced, angry sea folds its waves as if it were kneading dough. Depending on the tide, if you’re the kind of person who loves a good thrill, you’ll have the opportunity to jump off a cliff above the caves and plunge into the water below. Another opportunity to throw yourself off a wall of rocks presents itself later in the day on the hike back where you’ll come across a river you can bomb-drop into. Find yourself a shady tree and eat lunch under it. Take at least two litres of water, a small bottle just isn’t going to cut it on this hike.
4. Hike to Hole in the Wall
This is a three hour hike that takes you on a scenic trek through the region and delivers you to the area’s favourite natural attraction – the Hole in the Wall. The Hole in the Wall is an archway that’s punched out of a wall of Ecca shale and sandstone that’s capped with hard volcanic dolerite. After the hike to this landmark you simply cannot resist diving into the ocean and sharing the water with the rocky formation you came all this way to see.
5. Eat mussels
Every now and again Coffee Shack organises a free sundowner experience for its backpacker guests. I was lucky enough to be staying there when their staff had picked us a massive pot’s worth of fresh mussels to carry up to a view point and enjoy with a drink. Two of the fellas carried the steaming pot of mussels to the top of a nearby hill that’s green curves looked like it came from the Microsoft Windows background. We gathered around and tucked into our fresh delight with Tobasco and Worcestershire sauce close at hand. With seafood-filled bellies we all sat back and watched the choppy sea in front of us, drink in hand. The next thing we knew, we were all watching two pods of dolphins cruising their way through the rough seas below. Spectacular.
A trip to Coffee Bay is definitely recommended. Just be sure to take sunblock and an open mind.
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