Cape Town - The stellar route amongst all Eastern Cape routes has to be the Sunshine Coast. This route sees the sights of the coastline between Port Elizabeth and East London, where you travel along coastal destinations and a number of villages such as, Colchester, Bathurst, Alexandria, Kenton on Sea, Port Alfred and Kidds Beach.
This unique route’s most striking attraction is the spectacular sandy coastline, consisting of a variety of river channel connections, resorts and great activities for everyone to enjoy along the way. It is regarded as the ideal route to explore authentic beach and bush experiences, with an array of game reserves in close proximity too.
Then, there are also the thrills of seeing dolphins and whales from the shoreline, hiking, biking and 4x4 trails all adding to this thriving adventure route.
In addition to the beach and adventure experience, there are many monuments and historical elements on the Sunshine Coast and its surrounding areas… key attractions that make complete sense, as well as a few totally random ones that literally make you go, WTF?
Here are some of the key attractions that you might bump into e route in the Sunshine Coast:
Kick off at East London!
1. The City Hall - Located in East London
The foundation stone of this impeccable vintage, stately City Hall was laid in 1897. The building was patently constructed in Victorian Renaissance style, with the use of marble for the striking staircase that was specially imported from Carrar in Italy.
In front of the East London City Hall, a proud, memorial statue of Steve Biko stands tall. Biko was a prominent anti-apartheid activist who was murdered during his period in police custody.
Apart from this building being a symbol of history, the town’s Visitors Information Bureau is also situated inside and the building itself is a leading attraction for locals, as well as tourists.
2. Keiskamma Art Destination - Located in Hamburg
Hamburg, located approximately one hour down the coast from East London, is home to the extraordinary Keiskamma Trust’s Art Project. The beauty of the art created at this venue, may distract you from the fact that it is a fragment of a prevailing social upliftment project.
The art pieces being produced at Keiskamma are so epic, as it involves historical story-telling on a high level, that the ‘tapestries’ can be seen in permanent displays in museums and art galleries… even in the South African Parliament! This certainly is a prestigious attraction on the Sunshine Coast.
There is a connecting point on the Sunshine Coast Route at Port Alfred that diverts inland, directly to Grahamstown... along the way you'll pass the small town of Bathurst.
3. The Big Pineapple - Located on route between Port Alfred and Grahamstown in Bathurst
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to the largest artificial pineapple in the world! This 16.7 metre high attraction overpowers the landscape for miles! Located in Bathurst, known as ‘pineapple country’, this gigantic piece of citrus bears testimony to it. At this prominent attraction on the Sunshine Coast, you’ll find yummy pineapple products and curios inside that people travel from afar to indulge in. You can also climb to the very top of the pineapple for breathtaking views and of course, a priceless selfie!
4. Cathedral of St. Michael and George - Located in Grahamstown
This is a must-see (and slight divert off the main route) for anyone who wishes to get the most out of their Sunshine Coast trip!
It is not ironic that this town is nicknamed, 'The City of Saints'… it must’ve been dubbed deliberately as Grahamstown is home to a remarkable, over 40 religious buildings! The city's most famous attraction… the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. George of course, boasting with the tallest spire in South Africa at 53.6 metres, that is 176 feet high!
The construction of this distinctive Anglican cathedral started as early as 1824 and was first put in use in 1830. At the time, the building served as refuge destination for women and kids during the Xhosa Wars. What’s fascinating about this attraction is that it is the first church to have hung church bells in Africa, which was in 1879.
Get back to the coast!
From Grahamstown, get back to the coastline by jumping on the R343, passing through Salem.
5. Sandbar Floating Restaurant - located in Kenton-on-Sea
Wait… let’s all just pause for a second… how cool is this? A floating restaurant!
The design and atmosphere surrounding this unique restaurant is somewhat rustic, welcoming and really cosy. People come to this restaurant from all over, not only because of the float factor, but also to enjoy the breathtaking views of the surrounding river and Eastern Cape Bushveld.
In the vicinity of the Sandbar Floating Restaurant, there’s a large number of bird species that would usually show-off to the restaurant’s guests. The Cape clawless otter too, is huge fan of the restaurant and known for entertaining the restaurant’s guests.
6. The Horse Memorial - Located in Port Elizabeth
This is probably the most heartfelt local and tourist attraction in Port Elizabeth… The Horse Memorial, which is dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of horses that were translocated to PE during the Anglo-Boer War between 1899 and 1902… yes, you read correctly… a memorial dedicated to horses.
Many of these horses who were transported here died en-route, some while being offloaded on the docks and many more others in combat. It is definitely one of those sites that you have to visit in order to really get in-touch with part of SA’s history.