Canals, Coastline and Candelabra flowers – Exploring St Francis Bay

We are very fortunate here in Port Elizabeth that we have a number of excellent destinations surrounding us.  This does mean that it isn’t always that easy to decide where to go for that much needed weekend break with your loved ones.  Seeing that we can’t get away over Easter this year, we decided to have a family weekend away a week or so earlier.  After much deliberation along with outside encouragement and a couple of invitations to visit, we decided to spend the weekend in St Francis Bay, throwing anchor at Dune Ridge Country House.  Dune Ridge an award winning four star Country House nestled between thick coastal fynbos and located just outside St Francis Bay.  It is actually perfectly located to give that “away from everything” feel while still being close enough to easily explore the nearby St Francis Bay and Cape St Francis. 
After a warm welcome by Sarah Swanepoel and her team, we settled in and explored the property a bit before a drive into St Francis to grab dinner.  Dune Ridge is a mixture of colonial nostalgia and modern sophistication.  When one thinks St Francis you think canals and coastline.  Dune Ridge isn’t quite that.  Its location rather lends to a bush and beach feel than just a coastal holiday  With six double rooms and a family unit it’s also not big and crowded like a hotel and gives you more than enough privacy to relax in. 

Saturday morning was a nice cool one so we decided to start the day off in Cape St Francis after breakfast and go for a walk.  A quick bit of research showed two possibilities, both with Geocaches for us to find.  You know me, a possible Geocache find is always a game breaker.  We decided to do both.  Heck, we’re here so why not?  The first walk was along the rugged coastline going westward from the village towards the blowhole.  The 2,5 km walk took us past the wreck of “The Osprey”.  Not that there is much left of it.  The ship, which wrecked here in 1867, was built of wood and all that remains are small twisted hunks of metal.  The blowhole itself is apparently impressive at high tide when the water rushes in through the cave and blows up through the hole in the rocks.  We unfortunately didn’t check the tides and ended up there at low tide. Bah humbug.  Will have to return some other time to see it perform for us.  The walk was still more than worth it with stunning coastal beautiful fynbos and lots of little flowers, especially the bright pink Candelabra flowers blooming at the moment.

Before the next walk we swung past the historic Seal Point Lighthouse and adjacent penguin sanctuary for a quick look around.  Renovations to the lighthouse is coming along very nicely and it will hopefully be open to the public again some time soon.  The SANCCOB penguin sanctuary offers tours around the facility to show visitors the awesome job they are doing in the African Penguin’s battle for continued survival.  
Our second walk was from the Port St Francis side to Shark Point, the easterly of the two points in the area, the other being Seal Point where the lighthouse is situated.  The cache we found near the point turned out to be the oldest active Geocache in the Eastern Cape.  Nice to get that ticked off my list.  The views on this side of the coastline is slightly different from the first walk as you look into St Francis Bay itself with mountains on the horizon across the bay and the houses along the coast in the distance.
Late afternoon we headed to Brisan on the Canals in St Francis Bay for a cruise on the canals.  The canals with their black and white houses are stunning and if feels like you are in a different world yet it’s right here in the Eastern Cape.  (And here I can’t help but to use my #experienceeastcape hashtag)  Other than just showing us the appeal of the area, owner and skipper Brian Cunningham was telling us about the huge fire that destroyed over 70 houses in 2012 and pointed out how many of them have been replaced, built bigger and better than before.  During the one hour tour we made our way out onto the Krom River and as we cruised along with a glass of wine in hand (cold drinks in the case of the KidZ) the sun set in the west behind us.  The perfect end to a choc and bloc day of exploring.
Sunday morning after breakfast we decided not to go out and spent some time next to Dune Ridge’s welcoming swimming pool.  After checking out we opted for a bit of a detour via Jeffreys Bay rather than heading straight back to PE and ended up on the beach at Aston Bay close to Marina Martinique. Oi, if only we had more time but this part of the Kouga will have to wait for another visit.

Disclosure: We enjoyed the visit as guests of  Dune Ridge Country House, Brisan on the Canals and Kouga Baviaans Surf and Safari CountryI received no further remuneration, wasn’t asked to write a positive post and keep full editorial control.

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  1. Gaelyn

    What a great weekend get away for the family.