Flights to East London land at East London Airport (ELS), which will be the first stop on your adventure along the Wild Coast. The drive to the city from the airport is about 10 minutes. East London is a nice little town and your doorway to the Wild Coast, a section of the east coast that is known for beautiful, rugged landscapes and experiences that will take you under the ocean and into the sky. It is popular with travellers looking for cool things to do and the salty ocean air. Beneath the ordinary façade, East London is a bit of a beach bum town with an adventurous soul. And although it is a bit of an oddball place, it is its strangeness that makes it interesting. East London is visa-free for South Africans, but people from other countries might need a Visitor Visa for South Africa.
East London is the doorway to the Wild Coast, so expect loads of heart pumping adventure and some gorgeous wild escapes. A helicopter ride from East London to Coffee Bay will give you a spectacular view of the coast and show you exactly why it is called the Wild Coast. A river cruise is another glorious way to see the coastline. Go on a township tour through Mdantsane Township where you can visit a herbal shop and stop for a beer at a shebeen. Take in some art at the Ann Bryant Art Gallery or search for adventure and inspiration along the 3 Silo MTB adventure cycling trails. Pull on a wetsuit and go scuba diving around the Three Sisters. Or if you prefer the sandy shores, head to Gonubie Beach for a little sea, surf, and sunshine. Nahoon Reef is better if you are on a quest for the perfect wave. Head to Café Basil for a coffee break and friendly people. Go for a Thai massage at Prana Lodge in Chintsa East or head to Jantra Thai Spa for a hot herbal ball therapy. East London is also famous for Shamrock Pies, Friesland Milk Bar who serve over 20 different milkshakes, and the slap chips from The Windmill Roadhouse. You can’t leave without trying those first. A guided quad tour and canoe through Inkwenkwezi, a gorgeous game reserve on the river is also an absolute must-do if you want to experience East London’s natural world. East London is small but fun town that will make you want to stick around just a little longer.
There are a few boutique shops, shopping malls, and markets in East London. You will be able to find everything from gadgets and clothing to artisanal treasures and restaurants and cafés for wine dinners and mimosa mornings. OHBrigado Champagne Bar is the ‘it’ spot for a sophisticated night out and The Cow Shed is a good spot for wine, dinner, and romance. There are also various other events in East London; markets, outdoor movie nights, live music, and art theatres. For bars in East London, head to Thyme Fusion Gin Bar & Eatery and The Captain’s Table. Stroll on over to Monty’s Night Club Pub & Grub if you want to do a little late night dancing.
Getting around East London is easy. There are numerous taxis, buses, and shuttles at the airport that can get you to the city. East London is a small town, so using a taxi to get around is the easiest, but hiring a car is a great option too if you are planning to venture out of the city. There are several car rental agencies at East London Airport.
There are a number of really special places that are worth spending a couple of nights at. Guest houses in East London are dream homes and country estates covered in plants, singing birds, and dappled sunshine. Hamptom Rose Guest is a firm favourite. If you would prefer to stay on a private game reserve, Mpongo Private Game Reserve is a magical place. Prepare for waking up to unreal sunrises, encounters with majestic creatures of the African bush, and starry nights around a fire. It’s an African dreamscape in humble East London. Parrot Peek Inn and Tidewaters Bed & Breakfast are quite possibly the best bed and breakfasts in East London. And two wonderful hotels in East London are Kennaway Hotel and Premier Hotel.
Direct flights to East London depart from certain cities, but connecting flights to East London depart regularly from the major cities. South African Airways, FlySafair, Airlink, and Mango operate flights to East London. For international flights to East London, only connecting flights are available. The stopover is usually in Johannesburg.
Emerald Vale Brewery. A craft beer brewery right in East London. What more do you need for a great holiday? Their ale is incredible and the brewery tour takes you behind the scenes to show you how beer is made. Every now and then they host a band or musician to add a little boogie to the beer. Khaya La Bantu Cultural Village. The Xhosa are the second largest cultural group in South Africa and one of the most interesting. A trip to Khaya La Bantu Cultural Village gives you a glimpse into the lives and traditions of the Xhosa culture and even includes some delicious authentic food. Surf the waves. East London is known for its great surfing conditions, so a paddle into the waves is highly recommended. Whether you are an experienced surfer or just considering giving it a go this one time, East London is one of the best places for surfing in South Africa.