The Top 5 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting Coffee Bay

If you are looking to escape the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city life, Coffee Bay Eastern Cape (also known as ‘Koffiebaai’) might be exactly what you are looking for. Situated in the heart of South Africa’s Wild Coast, it is a true diamond in the rough. It offers unspoiled beaches, various cattle roaming free, vast green fields dotted by colorful huts and rocky cliffs with breathtaking views of the ocean.

coffee-bay-south-africa

It is the ‘laid back’ traveler’s dream with a relaxed and carefree atmosphere pervading every corner of the small and rural village. The locals are welcoming and friendly, creating an authentically African ‘home-away-from-home’ feeling among newcomers.

So, are you keen to visit Coffee Bay in all its rustic glory? Before you embark on your journey, here are the top 5 things you need to know about Coffee Bay:

1.  How it got its name…

You might wonder why a place that does not grow any coffee was named after the ‘jitter-juice’. Well, it turns out that coffee did actually contribute to the name.

coffee-beans

According to the locals, a cargo ship containing coffee beans was wrecked along the Wild Coast and the coffee beans supposedly washed out on the shores, which led to a few coffee trees starting to grow. Unfortunately, the conditions were not suitable for them to survive, but the name surely did!

2.  Distance From East London to Coffee Bay…

East London and Coffee Bay are separated by a 288 km stretch of tarred road, which takes around 4 hours travelling by car – bearing in mind the prominent potholes and animals crossing the road along the way. Therefore driving at night time can be quite dangerous and is definitely not recommended.

3.  Where To Stay…

From lodges to campsites and backpackers, Coffee Bay offers a handful of rustic accommodation to choose from, catering to a range of budgets and comfort preferences. Here are a few recommendations:

Coffee Shack, Coffee Bay

For those on a tight budget – it is the most popular backpacker and known as ‘the place to party’. Decorated with rustic wooden finishes, as well as colorful furniture and props, Coffee Shack backpackers offers a vibey bar, restaurant with good food, a laid-back communal area along with a fire pit creating a cosy space to mingle and strike up a conversation with the friendly staff and travelers from different places.

There are dorm rooms as well as private rooms to choose from, all fairly comfortable and at very affordable prices. They also offer cheap surf lessons for all guests – a great way to explore the warm waters and decent waves!

Gecko’s B&B

Rated as the top place to stay in Coffee Bay on Tripadvisor, this beautiful B&B is run by husband and wife Rodger and Leoni. They immerse themselves in their business, offering guests a welcoming and memorable experience and great value for money. Gecko’s B&B is situated in a tropical garden setting, perfect for friends and families to enjoy the peace and tranquility.

The rooms are private, en-suite and tastefully decorated with historic and vintage furniture, giving it a very warm and ‘snug’ feel. Full breakfast included: from fresh fruits, cereals and yogurt to bacon and eggs –  you can be sure to start the day on a jam-packed stomach!

Raptors View Bush Lodge

Nuzzled in the mountain between Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall, Raptors View Bush Lodge provides visitors with a tranquil, secluded and true African experience.

Here you guaranteed entertainment as they have a games room, pool table, DSTV and a fully licensed bar. They really do offer you the full package: from affordable accommodation, panoramic sea views, local guides and safe swimming beaches.

There are two fully equipped self-catering cottages as well as a campsite which has electricity and a communal kitchen containing a fridge, gas burner, kettle and toaster. All you have to bring is your tent and sleeping bag!

 4.  Things to Do in Coffee Bay

Coffee Bay is a dream destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers offering a variety of activities including scenic hikes, cliff jumps, kayaking on the river or simply lazing around the vast and unspoiled beaches. The must do’s are:

Coffee Bay Hole in The Wall Hike

Known as one of the most famous landmarks of Coffee Bay, exploring this natural phenomenon is a no-brainer. Hole in The Wall is a big hole in a cliff that stretches over the ocean and where the Mapako River passes through. It is about a 3-hour moderate hike from Coffee Bay, showing off the beautiful landscape of the Wild Coast.

hole-in-the-wall

Pack your picnic bags and, after the hike, spend the day relaxing on the rocks alongside the ocean. Alternatively, you can enjoy an authentic Xhosa lunch at the Chief’s house for a more cultural experience.

Explore the Mapuzi Caves

If you get a kick out of jumping off cliffs, crawling through caves and discovering secret pools, then this one is definitely for you! Enjoy the scenic views on the Mapuzi Cliff edge pathway towards the Bat Cave, bathe in the crystal pools, and get your adrenaline going with some amazing cliff jumps (up to 14m) into the Mapuzi River.

cliff-jump-mapuzi

Mapuzi offers adventure, history and hidden gems. As it is only a short distance from Coffee Bay, there’s no good reason not to explore it.

A Day Trip to Mdumbi

Ocean lovers are in luck as  Mdumbi has been voted as one of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches and is a popular fishing, kayaking and surf spot. About an hour drive from Coffee Bay, Mdumbi consists of lush green hills, Milkwood trees, flat beaches and the Mdumbi River Mouth with fish for days!

kayaking-mdumbi

It is a perfect way to spend a day in a unique and a secluded setting – untouched perfection at its best.

5.  Coffee Bay Weather…

The Transkei weather is favorable throughout the entire year, yet ‘favorable’ is a relative term. You might be looking to avoid large crowds and flocks of tourists, or may appreciate sharing your experience with new friends made on your travels. Here is a breakdown of the different seasons, to help you make your choice:

January-March

Known as the hottest time of year with temperatures up to 36℃ (96,8℉) would make you want to run to the nearest bar to down a cold beer. This is a fantastic time to cool off in the ocean, however  more weather-sensitive tourists may suffer in the extreme heat and high humidity. Therefore not too many crowds.

April-July

This time of year fits the bill just right. Fantastic weather for all, with the average temperature usually between 21 and 28℃ (82,4℉). The famous Sardine Run also happens around June which makes it an ideal time for scuba divers and fishermen to visit.

August-November

A slightly cooler time to visit with the average humidity being 69% and the average temperature around 18℃ (64,4℉). It is probably the most quiet time of year for those looking to exclusively soak up the scenery in a small group.

December

This is the tourist high season with great weather at 28 to 31℃ (82 to 87℉). This time of year is perfect for outdoor activities and with relatively low humidity, it is the most popular time to explore Coffee Bay.

Summary

Coffee Bay is definitely one of the most authentic and exciting places to visit in South Africa with a deeply rooted culture and spectacular surroundings that are well-worth exploring.

So, now that you are all prepped, head over to Coffee Bay and experience this amazing little corner of the Eastern Cape for yourself!

Introducing Tulbagh’s Magical Christmas in Winter Festival

Tulbagh Christmas in Winter

 

A cold, winter’s Christmas is not something that South Africans often get to experience. Snow-capped trees and carols at the fireplace are usually just something we see in movies.

 

tulbagh_map

 

But now we’ve found a tiny town in the Western Cape that is bringing Christmas in winter dreams to life. Tulbagh, roughly a 1.5-hour drive from Cape Town, holds its very own Christmas festival, right in the middle of our South African winter.

 

Details About the Festival

 

Every year, this small town gives South Africans a taste of what Christmas is like on the other side of the equator. The festival is held during the weekend closest to the 21st of June, our midwinter solstice. The dates for this year are 22 – 24 June.

 

tulbagh_christmas_winter_crowd

 

The cost for the festival is R80 per adult and R60 per child over the age of 12. Under 12s enter for free.

This covers:

  1. Your festival “passports” which allow you to take part in the activities
  2. Entrance to 4 of Tulbagh’s Museums
  3. A chance for the kids to meet Santa Claus.

 

tulbagh_christmas_winter_streets

 

Accommodation In and Around Tulbagh

 

We suggest finding one of these great places to spend the night. Accommodation books out fast for this weekend, so don’t wait too late. We found a variety of accommodation options, from B&B, self-catering, backpackers and even pet-friendly places.

Here are some that stood out, but be sure to check out all accommodation options.

African Tulip Guesthouse

 

african_tulip

 

Situated at 8 Meiringstreet in Tulbagh, this B&B is within walking distance to the town centre. There is a no smoking policy in the rooms, and children must be over the age of 6 to accompany parents.

Offering you a breakfast buffet in their breakfast room, so that you start your day right. They have four rooms, which are named after and decorated in the style of flowers from their garden.

These luxury rooms require you to stay a minimum of 2 nights, and offer rates from R435 per person sharing, per night. The rooms boast king size beds, private bathrooms, and WIFI.

 

Rijks Country House

 

rijks_hotel

 

You’ll find this luxurious hotel at the Van Der Stel Street Ext, Winterhoek Road just outside of Tulbagh. They have a choice of 15 elegant rooms, ranging from luxury rooms to family cottages.

This hotel is a short drive outside of town. Their rates start at R1250 per person sharing per night. You may be tempted to not leave the farm all weekend, though.

Just a few things on offer are:

  • A private cellar
  • Wellness centre
  • Art gallery
  • Lawns where you can enjoy games or picnics
  • As well fishing in the dams

 

Secret Falls

 

secret_falls_sunbird_cottage

 

Two cottages nestled among the fynbos in the mountains, on the outskirts of Tulbagh. You will find just the right amount of quiet here, allowing you to escape the bustle of the festival once you’ve had your fun.

The cottages are self-catering, with kitchen facilities and bedding included. There are indoor fireplaces and outdoor braais. A dam for swimming and fishing is a short walk away from the cottages. No pets are allowed in these cottages.

Rates start at R900 for 2 people, and R120 per person after that, although it seems the cottage only accommodates 4 people. If you’re feeling adventurous, they also have a 4X4 camping site on offer.

 

Tulbagh Fraaigelegen Farm

 

fraaigelegen_farm_signpost

 

Here you have a choice between cottages or camping. There are three self-catering cottages, called the Shiraz, the Cabernet and the Olive, which each have 2 bedrooms and can sleep up to 4 people. The Olive cottage even allows small to medium dogs to join in the family holiday.

You can bring your caravan or motorhome to one of the three secure campsites if that is what you prefer. There are ablution facilities and electricity points as well as communal South African style Bomas for barbeques (or braaing).

The minimum stay is 2 nights, so definitely make a weekend of it. The cottage rates are from R525 per person sharing, per night; while the camping sites are just R140 per person sharing, per night.

 

Matroosberg

 

matroosberg-50-shades-of-green

 

Enjoy the festival even more by bringing along all your friends and family. Matroosberg offers camping sites and cottages that accommodate 2 – 20 people. Rates are quite affordable, especially if the whole group is chipping in, and there are multiple adventure activities to enjoy as well.

Depending on the level of comfort and luxury that you are looking for, there is a type of cabin or campsite for you. From a romantic cabin for two at the foot of the mountain to a shared bunker for eight friends, the choice is yours. Be warned, though, their website clearly states that the gates will close at 9 am, so don’t get caught up with the festival activities and get locked out of your sleeping quarters.

Some activities you can find on the farm include:

  • 4X4
  • Quad Biking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Game Tours
  • Abseiling
  • Snowboarding
  • Trail Running
  • Paintball
  • Fishing
  • Cherry Picking

 

Food & Drinks (Tulbagh’s best Restaurants, Pubs and Coffee Shops)

 

Always the favourite part of Christmas, the food and drink. Stuffing yourself full of meat, veggies, cake & happiness. This wintery Christmas festival is no different. Choose from a list of restaurants, pub meals and coffee stops along the way.

Most of these restaurants will be offering special Christmas-themed menus, so a good idea would be to phone and find out, as well as book a spot so you don’t miss out.

 

Readers Restaurant

 

readers_restaurant

 

A restaurant established in the oldest house in Church Street, here you can find a simple yet delicious menu. Offering dishes such as Kudu Carpaccio with fresh asparagus and Hollandaise and Wildebeest with gooseberry and amarula sauce, this seems like the perfect lunch spot.

The menu changes, depending on which ingredients are available fresh, so your choices won’t get stale, and neither will your food. You can also pop into their gift store and find a few items to take back home with you.

 

Olive Terrace Bistro @ The Tulbagh Hotel

 

the_tulbagh_hotel_olive_bistro

 

This bistro is the in-house restaurant of The Tulbagh Hotel, situated centrally in Tulbagh. Offering à la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, with a fireplace to keep you warm. They serve everything from breakfast to dessert, with traditional wood oven pizzas that will most definitely tantalize those taste buds.

This is another place where the menu changes according to the availability of fresh produce. Their cakes are freshly baked every day, and they offer freshly squeezed orange juice. The bar has a range of local wine and draught beers, as well as craft gin cocktails.

 

1699 Restaurant

 

1699-restaurant

 

You’ll find this restaurant in Van Der Stel Street, in Tulbagh. They serve everything from breakfast to dinner, and everything in between. A menu that offers nothing but family-favourites in the form of toasted sandwiches, burgers, ribs and mouth-watering milkshakes.

Their deliciously crafted coffee from Blacksmith coffee looks like the perfect addition to any meal. They look like they enjoy a good party, and really get into the spirit of things, so Christmas in Winter is sure to be a great time with them.

 

Coffee and Cream

 

coffee_and_cream

 

Church Street is famous in Tulbagh and holds many gems in the form of local businesses. One such business is Coffee and Cream. For those looking for a coffee stop amid the festivities, have a look at Coffee and Cream’s delectable cakes and other small delights.

A small coffee shop, full of love and sweet treats, this would be the ideal place to rest your feet in between festival activities. The menu changes often, so a surprise delight awaits each new morning.

 

Paddagang Restaurant

 

paddagang_restaurant

 

If you’re looking for some more traditional South African meals to enjoy with the kids, try out Paddagang Restaurant. A comfy looking restaurant, with green lawns and friendly faces to greet you. They seem to have opened just recently but have already found a spot in their customer’s hearts.

They boast the best Crème Brulee in the Western Cape, which is a firm favourite amongst their regulars. They also stock only local craft beers and wines, so a great place to feel like a local while on holiday.

 

Activities To Do in Tulbagh

With so many things to do, you definitely won’t get bored over the weekend. You may, however, have a really hard time deciding which things to do, and which to miss.

  • Arts, crafts, photographic exhibitions, art galleries and quaint shops will be there to browse through and do some early Christmas shopping.
  • Tantalize your taste buds with different cheese, Belgian chocolate, and olive tastings.
  • Work off all those Christmas calories by taking part in a trail run through the vineyards.
  • Enjoy a scenic tractor trip up the historic Oudekloof Pass with interesting stops along the way.
  • A scenic outride on horseback allows you to experience the beauty and tranquillity of nature.
  • Be daring and go on a Zipslide adventure further down the Valley.

 

tulbagh_zipline

 

Kids can have just as much fun with:

  • Jumping castles
  • Face painting
  • Pony rides
  • Tractor trips
  • Meeting Santa Claus

 

kids_meet_santa

 

The wine farms surrounding Tulbagh will be open and offering a variety of wine tastings, as well as cellar tours and an assortment of family entertainment. If the guys get bored with browsing through the streets, leave them at one of the sports pubs with a beer. Be sure to catch some of the live entertainment that will be on show in the streets during the festival.

 

Thanks to the Tulbagh Christmas in Winter Festival, we can now have the best of both worlds – a cold, winter’s Christmas, as well as a Christmas spent in the sun. The festival is bound to bring in a merry crowd, ready to celebrate with cheery spirits. Experience a Christmas spent around the fireplace, with the hopes of snow falling.

It’s the perfect way to spend some quality time with the loved ones. It is also a great excuse to come out of hibernation for some family-friendly, winter fun. With activities for everyone and the entire town on display, expect this to become an annual family favourite.