Nelson Mandela Bay: 67 Reasons to Love our Bay

  • 12 September 2018 | By Anje Rautenbach

September is one busy month; it’s the start of spring, there’s rugby and also heritage day. But one more thing that happens in September is South Africa’s Tourism Month (and also World Tourism Day which is celebrated on the 27th of September).

South Africa has adapted the United World Tourism Organisations’ theme to Inclusive and Quality Growth of the Tourism Sector Through Digital Transformation, to encourage travellers to explore the country, whilst fostering an awareness of the socio-economic benefits of technological advances in creating opportunities to improve inclusiveness, community empowerment and efficient resource management in the sector.

This year the Eastern Cape – birthplace of former President Nelson Mandela - has been chosen as 2018’s Tourism Month destination and as the largest city in the province we are thrilled. The Eastern Cape is rich in heritage, culture, has a wealth of beautiful natural areas, it is filled with adventure and we thought it would be a good idea to give you, as a visitor and as a local, some reasons to visit and explore Nelson Mandela Bay.  

67 reasons to love Nelson Mandela Bay

1. The Bay has FREE THINGS! There are plenty of free things to do in the Bay and during Tourism & Heritage Month you can enjoy a FREE one hour Route 67 guided tour! If you want to learn more about the iconic art pieces on Route 67, make sure to be at the Donkin Reserve Tourism Office at 10:00 on the following Saturdays: 15 September, 22 September and 29 September.

To find out what else is free in the Bay, click here.


2. We got ‘em beaches. Blue Flag to be specific.

3. Fancy waking up to spectacular sunrises? The Bay got you covered!

4. Or are you more one for sunsets? Yep, we got that too.

5. The Bay is home to South Africa’s third largest national park: Addo Elephant National Park.

6. And unlike other national parks, Addo Elephant National Park is not only home to the Big 5, but also the Big 7.

7. Looking for hiking trails? Yes we have hiking trails; you can get high and walk to the top of Lady Slipper or explore the trails winding its way through coastal forest.

8. Mountain biking trails? Of course we have those.

9. Hungry? Well, you better come on an empty stomach because whether you want to have a fine-dining experience, grab some of the best burgers in the Bay, or breakfast or cake, you’ll leave asking for seconds. Just ask the foodies.

10. Vegan? With places like The Kindred Kitchen, you are in good hands!

11. Just dropping by for coffee? With Mastertons as the oldest and most established roastery in South Africa since 1924, your caffeinated soul will be well looked after. Also, did you know that Nelson Mandela Bay has its own coffee blend? Ja, our city is THAT cool. The Blend of the Bay happened through a collaboration between Mastertons Coffee & Tea Specialists and Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and is available online or at retailers.

12. The Bay has museums honouring motoring, aviation and the Bay of yesteryear.

13. And of course we have art galleries.

14. And don’t forget about the unique public art, installations, street art by local artists and an involved local creative community.

15. Staying over? You are spoiled for choice when it comes to hotels, lodges, guesthouses and backpackers.

16. Prefer to rough it a bit and wave every day comforts goodbye? Well then, bring your caravan or pitch your tent at one of the Bay’s camp sites.

17. Got kids? Yep, there’s plenty to keep them busy with in Nelson Mandela Bay.

18. Hey market lover! We are pretty sure our markets are calling your name.



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19. Need drama? We got it! The Opera House is the oldest theatre on the continent of Africa and the Southern Hemisphere.

20. Port Elizabeth is home to the biggest South African flag at the Donkin Reserve, and we are proudly South African!

21. A lot of legends once called Nelson Mandela Bay home like Athol Fugard, Danie Gerber, Rassie Erasmus, Zolani Mahola, Siya Kolisi, Shashi Naidoo and Graeme Pollock (and Peter and Shaun) to name a few.

22. Want to dance your socks off your feet? Well, get a head start, leave the socks at home and experience PE’s nightlife.

23. The Bay is home to a few reserves and a national park; there’s Cape Recife Nature Reserve, Maitland Nature Reserve, The Island Nature Reserve, Groendal Nature Reserve, Grysbok Reserve, Sardinia Bay Local Authority Nature Reserve, Lady Slipper Local Authority Nature Reserve and Addo Elephant National Park.

24. And let’s not forget the private reserves such as Kragga Kamma Game Park and Hopewell Conservation Estate.

25. Coming for business? The Bay, with its sound infrastructure, prides itself on being a hub of regional, national and international business, providing modern conferencing facilities and venues.

26. Traffic? What’s that?

27.  We are the host city of big events – wink wink nudge nudge – the Isuzu Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

28. We have our own coffee AND  also our own App! Visitors and locals can make the most of their trip through the mobile app.

29. There’s also a tourism pass card which allows you to see and do more for less.

30. Ding dong dell. The Campanile houses the largest carillon of bells in South Africa!

31. Sylvester the lion – South Africa’s most famous wanderer – calls the greater Addo region home at Kuzuko Lodge.

32.  The Bay is home to the longest double zipline in Africa.

33. Nelson Mandela Bay represents a large percentage of South Africa's biological diversity in that it is a meeting point for 5 of the 7 South African Biomes, namely the Thicket, Grassland, Nama-Karoo, Fynbos and Forest Biomes.



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34. The islands in Algoa Bay are home to the largest African penguin colony in the world.

35. In 1903 the remains of a Stegosaurus were discovered near Despatch.

36. Uitenhage’s Old Railway Museum is one of the oldest railway stations in South Africa and visitors can enjoy walking around the ancient coaches and periodic furniture.

37. Did we mention the Bay’s beaches are perfect for surfing?

38. Oh, and we are the world’s bottlenose dolphin capital.

39. The Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park is home to the largest and least degraded coastal dune field in the southern hemisphere.

40. And talking about dunes, did you know that you can go sandboarding on the dunes at Sundays River?

41. There is a wine estate in the Bay!

42. The Bay is rich in history and you travel back into the past and discover the historic heart of Port Elizabeth while walking the Donkin Heritage Trail with its 51 places of historic interest.

43. And shopaholics, we got you covered too!

44. Our picnic spots are super unique!

45. If you are looking for an adventure how about doing the Nukakamma Canoe Trail?

46. Say “cheers” at one of the Bay’s micro-breweries!

47.  Volkswagen, situated between Despatch and Uitenhage, is the largest car factory in Africa. Visitors can get a feel for what goes on behind the scenes and go on a factory tour and also visit the museum.

48. Get your Tshisanyama on at Black Impala and indulge in lamb, beef, pork and of course chakalaka.

49. Yes we have wind, but we have also almost year-round beach weather.

50. Sports fan? St George’s Park Cricket Stadium and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is where you should go (don’t forget SA vs Australia on the 29th of September 2018).

51. Want to go on a boat cruise? Sea or river? We have both.

52. Horse riding on the beach? Of course, we have that too!

53. Ready to say ‘I do’? You’re spoilt for choice with the Bay’s variety of wedding venues.

54.Hole-in-one! There are some spectacular golf courses in the Bay.

55. The little ring plover was spotted in South Africa for the first time in 2017 and that happened in the Bay. Needless to say, if you are a birdwatcher make sure you bring your binoculars along.

56. Feeling lucky? Prove it at The Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World (and stay for the high tea’s tiers of joy).

57. Speaking of high teas, you can also lift your pinkie to regular high teas hosted at Hacklewood Hill Country House, Radisson Blu and at the Beach Hotel.

58.  Need some pampering? Our world class spas are waiting for you with open arms and aromatic oils.



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59. Ghosts? Of course we have ghosts, they love it so much here that they don’t ever want to leave Port Elizabeth. There’s a mystery ghost bus tour in October (click here for tickets)… do you dare? 

60. Want that perfect Instagram shot? The Bay is home to many insta-worthy spots, check out our most famous places here.

61.  Looking for crafts? The unique diversity of the city is also captured and displayed at various craft markets; the richness of cultures is reflected in the art stretching from traditional Xhosa to contemporary western art.

62. Want to volunteer? The Bay gives volunteers the opportunity to work with penguins, help out at primary schools, you can become an honorary ranger or be part of Sea Rescue South Africa.

63. Festivals? Yes we got that too and they’re growing every year with the Beach Camp Coastal Festival (taking place on the 24th of November) as the newest edition.

64. Go skate! Whether you are a novice or an expert, Kings Beach Skate Park welcomes all and if you don’t have a board or rollerblades, you can rent it from Oceanside Surf Store.

65. Calling all climbers! There’s an indoor climbing centre in Port Elizabeth, perfect for practice before you head outside.

66. Bay locals love sharing the beauty of their city, make sure you follow the hashtag, #ShareTheBay. There’s also a dedicated blogging community in the Bay with annual blogger events (EC Meetup) bringing digital creators together from all walks of life – from fashion to beauty to food and travel.

67. It’s not called the Friendly City for nothing, so why don’t you come visit and see it for yourself?

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