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It’s Sunday, it’s summer and i’ve just stepped out the pool to come and write an article about where to spend the holidays in South Africa. It’s safe to say that I’ve never felt more qualified to write an article.
*takes a sip of ice cold berry juice*
So let’s get to it. The summer holidays in South Africa are ALL about getting down to the coast. So, with the exception this single sentence, this article makes NO mention of Johannesburg, because, and I have this on good authority, Jozi is a ghost town come the holidays. They’re all busy spending their plus-sized salaries somewhere along South Africa’s 2700km of coast.
And for the foreigners, there will be no mention of safari’s or game drives, because the animals sleep during the heat of the day. They couldn’t care how many khaki coloured hats you purchased for the occasion.
So now that we know what this article isn’t, let’s get into what it is!
Top of the list! Why? Because I live here. Obviously Cape Town is a popular destination for holiday goers all around the country because of our incredible beaches, beautiful people, food and outdoor activities. We’ve got that mountain of course (a fabulous spot for sunsets & you half price cable car rides in summer), plenty of beaches, nightlife, music festivals and much, much more.
However, our sexy little city (more of a village really) get’s fairly crowded over the holidays. Which means there’s a vibrant atmosphere, especially along the Atlantic seaboard (Camps Bay, Clifton etc.) but also means a significant increase in traffic, so be sure to get a summer playlist ready for your car.
Check out more of this beautiful beach destination in the Expedia Viewfinder: Image Gallery of Cape Town
Warm water, bikini babes, plenty of waves and curries so good they’ll make you cry. Durbs is so chock full of good things to do that we wrote an article on what the locals recommend you do there. Be sure to check it out for a bunch more ideas. Just some activity ideas off the top of my head though – learn to surf, picnics in the botanical gardens, a visit to iconic Mini-town, an uShaka cage dive and scuba diving!
The Wild Coast
The old Transkei really deserves to be at the top of this list, but since the list has been fashioned in no particular order, it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you, at some stage of your life, get down to the Wild Coast. Shrouded in mystery and with potholes large enough to swallow your uncles 4 x 4, the Wild Coast is an absolutely mesmerising part of South Africa. Truly. The peace and the connection you feel out there is very difficult to describe.
We took a road trip around South Africa in 2013 and can recommend places like, Coffee Bay Backpackers, Bulungula and Buccaneers in Chintsa. A sad fact is that more foreigners get to see this legendary part of our country than us South Africans. You’ve got to do yourselves a favour and go explore the region, and what better time than during the December holidays?
The West Coast
We love it because it’s everything that Cape Town isn’t. Green? No. Lush? Forget about it. The west coast, (which begins just an hours drive northwest of Cape Town) is dry, arid and filled with cacti. The ice cold atlantic ocean thunders against the coastline and only the hardest of people tend to live out here. There is a raw ruggedness in air that pulls at your inner strings. The people here are not the people you’ll meet in a Vida E Cafe. They have a different magic about them, something in their eyes tells you they’ve seen a few things in their time. However, it’s not just the people, it’s the landscape that does it for me.
Surfers paradise and my old stomping ground. Having lived in Jbay for a few years I can tell you that in December, the population of Jeffreys Bay swells something like 4 or 5 fold. The town’s single traffic light buckles under the pressure and the locals hate holiday makers for turning a five minute drive, to the other side of town, into a 20 minute marathon. On the flipside, it’s this influx of people that also keeps Jeffreys Bay running year in and year out. Surfers Paradise relies on your tourism money, so go, catch a tan, swim with the dolphins, learn how to surf, witness some of the best waves in the WORLD and spend, spend, spend.
The windy city. Or is it the friendly city? Perhaps the windy friendly city…? All that matters is that PE is filled with a sprinkling of all the good stuff that SA has to offer. Waves? Check. Incredible beaches? Check. Beautiful people? Definitely. PE’s got all that and heaps of activities to offer. Often overlooked in South Africa, Port Elizabeth may actually be the winning destination in this line for a few reasons: 1) She has the power to surprise 2) those reckless people that have the power to ruin holidays are either in Cape Town or Durban 3) the lack of crowds & 4) close proximity to places like Hogsback.
The Garden Route
When Cape Town gets flooded by Joburger’s, Capetonian’s flee to the sanctuary of The Garden Route. Be it camping, caravanning or a little bit of luxury, the garden route has it all. Secret beaches, starry nights and sunshine in abundance. The air smells of campfires and sunscreen, people lounge on the beach during the day and start their fires in the evening.
With the sound of children’s laughter ever present. The Garden Route is a true family destination, and one of the most loved areas of the country. Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, The Wilderness and George are firm favourites among the towns to visit.
In fact this year you’ll find us sunning it up in George, where we’ll be taking our newborn baby boy to camp for his first time. During the day we’ll be surfing and sunning at Vic Bay (a stunning but tiny beach packed to the rafters with holidaymakers) and at night we’ll be enjoying the serenity and stories around the fire.
Of course i’ve just touched on a small percentage of the places to go while on holiday in South Africa, and i’ve focused exclusively on destinations with at least one incredible beach. A little bit of bias I suppose since that is what I enjoy the most but in all honesty, a single article cannot hope to cover the spectrum of accommodation and holiday spots in South Africa. We are truly a nation made for the summertime!
Please share some of your favourite holiday spots or experiences with us in the comments!
Thanks for including Port Elizabeth on your list. We really are a very under estimated and under appreciated destination until people actually got to visit and explore the city and it’s surrounds.
Personally, this year we are off to 10 days of camping at Vloedbos in the Overberg between Riviersonderend and Hermanus. Then it’s back home to enjoy PE for the rest of the holiday.
Vaughan @ The Travel Manuel says
Have a good one Jonker!
Port Elizabeth is such an amazing place to visit infact i got a month leave from my office and i want to go for holidays, i want to spend my holidays awesome as now i want a long levae and relax from work. I decided to go to spend my vacation at newportharborcruises as i have heard this is a best place to feel relax and also there are lot of things like cruising, snorkeling and diving etc. Also i have been inspired through your post and now i am thinking that i should go there as well but for that i need a long vacation.