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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!