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Ancient milkwood trees, winding waterways, epic surf, and a cute village await you at St. Francis Bay. The iconic white houses and thatched roofs of the homes in St. Francis Bay are a standout feature of the town – which attracts year-round visitors. From foreign tourists to local holiday-makers who return every Summer, St. Francis Bay is a beautiful holiday destination which offers something for everyone.
Surfing and St. Francis Bay are synonymous
This stretch of coastline is known for its dramatic scenery and wild seas. Beyond the giant milkwood trees, you’ll find trails that wind amidst the sprawling indigenous fynbos, which grows abundantly in the region. The town itself has boutiques, great restaurants, cafés and surf shops.
Surfing and St. Francis Bay are synonymous, and accommodation in St. Francis Bay is in high demand – especially over the Summer holiday season. Featured in the iconic movie “Endless Summer”, St Francis Bay is home to some of South Africa’s best surf breaks. Bruce’s Beauties has been surfed by world-class surfers, while Huletts tends to be a more mellow wave. Travel just around the corner to Cape St. Francis and you’ll find Seal Point – a wave suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers.
Only 32km away, you’ll find Jeffrey’s Bay which is home to South Africa’s best right-hand point-break. Supertubes in J-Bay annually hosts the Corona Open J-Bay – the ninth stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour. When the pro surfers are in town, it’s not unusual to rub shoulders with them at the ever-popular Nina’s Restaurant.
St Francis Bay main beach is an expansive stretch of unspoilt coastline. Granny’s Pool is within a protected bay which makes it is perfect for padding and swimming. It’s a favourite for locals and visitors with children. A short drive away you’ll find the beach at Cape St. Francis – a long swathe of coastline that’s perfect for beach walks.
Two Harbours Walk, Chokka Trail and the Wildside Trail and Shark Trail at Cape St. Francis Nature Reserve are all moderate walks or trail runs that require little to no mountain clambering. The Irma Booysen Flora Reserve leads walkers through low shrublands, the sea almost always within sight, and is a beautiful way to lose yourself in nature. For more information visit All Trails.
There are three main surf breaks in and around St. Francis Bay: Seal Point, Huletts, and Bruce’s Beauties. Made famous by the makers of the film Endless Summer, Bruce’s Beauties is only suitable for experienced surfers and has been surfed by some of the greatest surfers in the world.
Seal Point has a split peak and is pretty consistent. It’s a world-class wave that attracts surfers from around the globe.
Huletts is a more mellow wave and can be surfed by beginner to intermediate surfers.
St. Francis is known for its phenomenal fish and seafood and there are at least five fishing charters that operate in the area. While many fishing enthusiasts are happy to cast from the rocky shoreline, some seek the adrenaline rush of sea-based fishing. To find out more take a look at Fishing Booker.
It’s not unusual to see enormous pods of dolphins as they trace their way across the bay. In addition, those who like to stare out to sea will often be rewarded with the sight of a Southern Right Whale breeching or a Humpback Whale spraying water high into the air.
May is mating season and the protected shoreline provides a natural shelter for breeding whales. Beachcombers will also often see seals and even otters in the sea and along the shoreline.
The Kromrivier wends its way through St. Francis Bay, providing an ideal playground for those who enjoy watersports. If you’re experienced on a SUP or kayak, the sea offers inviting opportunities and lots of fun. Check out 6312 and be inspired to take to the water.
The St. Francis area has a diverse landscape that includes riverine areas with mud and sand banks, agricultural land, salt marshes, coastal scrublands, fynbos, grasslands, freshwater vleis (marshlands), and pans. These all provide variable habitats for many different species of birds. To read more about the different species that can be found, visit St. Francis Tourism.
Surrounded by rugged coastal scrubland, this Jack Nicklaus designed golf course is ranked within the Top 10 of South Africa’s golf courses. The estate has an elegant Lighthouse Restaurant and an essential 19th Hole – Jack’s Bar.
There are no horse riding facilities in St. Francis Bay, but a short drive to Jeffrey’s Bay and surrounding area will lead horse lovers to Mild2Wild Adventures, Soul Valley Equestrian Farm, FeatherFoot Horses and Papiesfontein Beach Horse Rides. We recommend you contact the facilities directly to find out what they offer and what level of experience is required in order to saddle up.
The Kromme River mouth is where you’ll find most kite surfers and wind surfers in St. Francis Bay. Kiting season is in Summer and is best at high tide. For up-to-date info visit Kite Forum.
There are roughly six MTB trails which are in Cape St Francis. Dias, Irma Booysen Reserve, Osprey, Rocks to Rocks, Seal Point and St. Francis Reserve. The trails run from 1km in distance to 552km. To get more information, visit Trailforks.
The canals and winding waterways of St Francis Bay are a wonderful way to explore a unique perspective of the town. St Francis Bay Adventures offer a 1 hour cruise which is enough to get a feel of the river.
Kayaking the canals is also an awesome way to keep active and soak up the beautiful natural landscape. From this vantage point you’ll also be able to see waterbirds and birds that nest in the river reeds.
The Village Square is where you’ll find most amenities in St. Francis Bay, including supermarkets, surf shops, ATM’s, bottle stores, coffee shops, restaurants, hair salons, boutiques, stationary and the locally-made yoga kit emporium, Shakti Shanti.
St Francis Bay has a wide range of restaurants that range from artisanal coffee houses to fine dining and everything in between. From pared-down seafood at the harbour to cocktails and casual dining overlooking the canals, there is something for every budget and taste. Visit St. Francis Tourism for more info.
Nevermind, a new restaurant, has opened at the lighthouse in Cape St Francis. It has a laid-back, friendly vibe and uses seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Most meals are cooked over an open fire and their bakery, The Kiosk, offers delicious pastries and breads. A deck with tables and umbrellas overlooks the sea and has that festive, Summer feeling.
Village Fitness Gym in St Francis Bay is a small but comprehensive gym. It has all the equipment you need to stay active during your visit. They also have an in-house personal trainer if you have specific fitness needs.
Learn 2 Surf in Cape St Francis offers surf lessons, surfboard and wetsuit hire and rash vests. Aspiring surfers can start to learn from as young as 4 years old and the groups are kept to a maximum of 4 surfers per coach.
If you’re looking to unwind and practice some self-care, there are a variety of SPA and beauty options. Dune Ridge, Bard’au & Co at St. Francis Links, Hibiscus Health & Beauty, and Pop-In Beauty Bar offer SPA treatments and are all found within the St. Francis Bay area.
Jeffrey’s Bay is home to some of South Africa’s finest surf spots. The iconic Supertubes surf break annually hosts the WSL Corona Open Surf contest which attracts professional surfers and spectators from around the world. Known as South Africa’s best right-hand point-break, Supertubes can get crowded. But don’t let that stop you from visiting because you’ll find swell all along the Jeffrey’s Bay coastline.
J-Bay is home to two craft breweries: Jeffrey’s Bay Craft Brewery, and Brewhaha Craft Beer & Restaurant. You’ll also find J-Bay Bru Co., a family restaurant that serves craft beer and casual dining. If you love your beer, pop in for the taste and vibe. You won’t be disappointed.
Jeffrey’s Bay Shell Museum has the biggest collection of shells in South Africa. The collection originally belonged to Charlotte Kritzinger who collected the shells over many years.
Jeffrey’s Bay Surf Museum pays homage to legends of the sport and is a unique collection of artefacts that relate to the history of surfing and surfboards. It shows the development of surfing and how the world of surf has evolved over 50 years.
When people come to J-Bay, they invariably catch some kind of surf fever. Catering to this is a variety of international surf shops that stock the latest surfwear and last-season sweet deals. Billabong, RVCA, Quicksilver, Element, Ripcurl and Country Feeling can all be found in this part of town.
Seal Point lighthouse is a must-see. It stands as a beacon that overlooks the wild side of the point and is circled by low shrublands of indidgenous fynbos. The lighthouse and surrounding area make for a perfect, Instagramable capture.
For those who still have good knees, sandboarding is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy. The dunes in Jeffrey’s Bay are the perfect playground for beginner to experienced sandboarders.
The Penguin Rehabilitation Centre that used to be at Seal Point lighthouse in Cape St. Francis and has been relocated to Port Elizabeth. The centre provides treatment and temporary care for injured, displaced or oiled marine birds.
The Penguin Rehabilitation centre isn’t limited to caring for the endangered African penguin, they also undertake to look after all indigenous birds that may be in need of medical attention and protection. The facility also houses and feeds the injured marine birds until they’re able to be released back to into the ocean. The centre also offers education on marine life and hosts educational sessions for school tours and tourists.
Although there’s so much to do in St Francis Bay, we’ll bet that when you get there you’ll want to kick back, relax and let the day take you where it wants to. Time slows down in the Eastern Cape – which is why our guests come back rested and revitalised.