Coffee Bay is one of South Africa’s most popular getaways. A small town consisting of about 600 people, was named after a ship wreck that lost its cargo of coffee beans off the coast. The beans were washed up onto the beaches to germinate. Although there are none of these trees left, the name has since stuck.
Coffee Bay is part of the O.R. Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces in South Africa. It stretches for 160kms from the Kei Mouth in the south to Port Edward in the north and about 100kms inland. The municipality is also made up mostly of the former “Republic of Transkei, an ‘independent’ homeland during apartheid. The land was set aside for the Xhosa people, but was no more than a puppet state controlled by the apartheid government. The area suffered from no economic or social investment leading to a lack of opportunities, poor infrastructure and many environmental problems associated with this level of poverty.
The Transkei was the birthplace of several influential individuals of the apartheid liberation movement, including Nelson Mandela and Oliver Reginald Tambo. Mthatha, the regions biggest town, is 80kms away and is the turn off point for Coffee Bay, which is the only coastal resort, other than Port St. Johns, to have a tarred road from the N2 all the way to it’s doorstep.
The area around Coffee Bay is rich in natural resources with fertile lands, beautiful indigenous flora and fauna, diverse wildlife, rolling hills dotted with rondavels, and plenty of smiling faces and excited waves. The beaches are not only perfect for swimming, but are also known for being a consistent spot for good surf and the surrounding area is peppered with rugged cliffs and scenic views that make hiking a tourist favorite. During your time on the beach or walking through the streets, you’re constantly sharing it with the livestock of the Transkei. Cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens… You can find it all. We all share this community, no matter what.
Coffee Bay welcomes thousands of international tourists to its coastline every year. There’s an irresistible vibe flowing through the town that infuses backpackers, restaurants, hotels, campsites, and bars all containing their own eccentric lure. From local Xhosa’s to international travelers, excellent fishing and breathtaking views, Coffee Bay is a unique destination and remarkable in its own way.