Port Alfred
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 33 35.748 E 026 53.274 | pop. 25,000 | elevation 5 m/16 ft

Straddling the mouth of the Kowie River, Port Alfred is a thriving costal town filled with vacation houses. The scenic riverside marina is flush with water-based activities including fishing, canoeing, surfing, waterskiing and scuba diving. There are many places to stay in the marina, farther inland and along the beach, but during South African holidays the town fills up with vacationers and finding a place to stay can be pricy.

Unsurprisingly, the main attraction to Port Alfred is water. The Kowie River cuts through the heart of town, feeding in to the marina and then flowing out to the sea. You can take a canoe up the river for a quiet getaway, or check out the beachfront and catch the surf.

Outdoor Focus

Outdoor Focus is Port Alfred's go-to spot for outdoor activities and adventure, with trips for everything from canoeing, sandboarding, and skydiving, to horseback riding, deep sea fishing, and scuba diving. It also provides gear rental.

The most popular trips are the Adrenaline Cruise (be prepared to get drenched), scuba diving (best during May-October) and beach horseback riding (great for experienced riders).

Try the River Cruise for a guided trip through the Royal Alfred Marina and 6 kilometers of the Kowie River, a great option for families or those looking for something more low-key. Pack a picnic basket and a bottle of wine, cozy up and take in the view.

Kowie History Museum

Kowie History Museum is a little treasure chest of Port Alfred history. The exhibits range from Xhosa culture, early settler history to artifacts from the numerous shipwrecks along the coast. They also have a large seashell exhibit. With all the exciting outdoor activities in town it can't be called a major attraction, but you will be warmly welcomed.


Beaches dominate the daytime activity for many Port Alfred visitors.

East Beach

East Beach is just east of the river mouth with long and sandy dunes.

West Beach

West Beach, located just across the river mouth, has the best breaks for surfers.

Kelly's Beach

Kelly's Beach is further west along the West Beach Rd nestled in a small bay and is the most popular for beach lounging and swimming.

Royal Port Alfred Golf Course

Royal Port Alfred Golf Course is an 18-hole course located right in town. It has been around for over 100 years and has recently been updated with a new clubhouse.

Fish River Horse Safaris

Fish River Horse Safaris offers horseback rides along the pristine beaches of the Wild Coast. The owner and guide, Lloyd, is a former ranger who is passionate about his horses. You can choose a ride to view game or explore the scenic open grasslands, the cliffs, beach and sand dunes.

Shipwreck Hiking Trail

Shipwreck Hiking Trail is a four-day, 52-kilometer hiking trail along the coast from Port Alfred to the Fish River mouth, from which you can view a number of shipwrecks dating all they way back to 1825.

Overnight accommodation along the trail includes a traditional Xhosa hut, a tree house and a stone cottage. If you're up for more than just hiking, arrangements can be made to add in an additional day of canoeing or to cover sections of the trail on horseback. Most hikers pack for the full five days but if you prefer, supplies can be shuttled to the trail huts for
an additional fee.

Heritage Mall

Heritage Mall is the main retail area in town with a Pick 'n Pay, local shops and Nedbank, FNB and ABSA ATMs.

The Courtyard Center

The Courtyard Center has a café, deli, art gallery, home decor and boutique shops in a vibey area on Van der Riet St.


Medolino Caravan Park

Medolino Caravan Park is a well run and centrally located camping and caravan park with shaded grassy sites and a handful of reasonably priced chalets. There is a volleyball court, swimming pool and a shady pond that attracts a variety of birds.

Bretton Beach Crest

Bretton Beach Crest has self-catering cottages sufficiently spaced out and surrounded by bush all within steps from the beach. The nine identical single-bedroom cottages can sleep up to four adults, and have a living room containing two additional beds and a small kitchenette. There is a braai area outside of the cottages but you'll need to bring your own wood.


Halstead House

Halstead House has eight modish rooms with large bathrooms in an updated house. A few of the upper-level rooms have balconies overlooking the backyard with a small swimming pool, sun chairs and a braai. The ground level has a spacious common area with a bohemian decor where you can take breakfast in the morning and relax during the day.

The Lookout

The Lookout is an owner-managed guesthouse with three country-style units. Two of the units have their own private entrance and patio with a view overlooking the river and ocean. There is a central area with a small swimming pool, a bar and braai area.

Royal St Andrews Lodge

Royal St Andrews Lodge is a quaint Tudor-style hotel with original hardwood floors and a strong emphasis on service. Downstairs is the Thistle Restaurant and Highlander Pub that attracts a small crowd. Outside is a sizable swimming pool with lounge chairs where you can soak up the afternoon sun.

Villa de Mer

Villa de Mer is a chic and airy six-room guesthouse just across the street from the beach. Monochromatically white surroundings are accented with small dashes of color to give the relaxed environment a posh resort-feel. Ask for the more expensive rooms upstairs for a balcony and view of the ocean.

Halyards Hotel & Spa

Halyards Hotel & Spa is located right in the heart of the marina. The hotel offers spa treatments, a full restaurant and bar and has a small gym. Room standards can vary dramatically, however. Garden Rooms are cheapest and are recently renovated, but only rooms 45, 46, 49 & 50 have decent views. Marina Standard Rooms have a better view, but have not yet been renovated and have no air conditioning. The bi-level suites are the best options for families (ask for rooms 19 or 28). Be forewarned that rates rise dramatically during the holiday season.

Lightley's Holiday Houseboats

Lightley's Holiday Houseboats offers three small houseboats to rent for a peaceful ride up the river. The boats sleep two or four people but can get rather cramped with four. Reminiscent of a caravan on the water, the boats are equipped with fresh water, a chemical toilet and full kitchen including a battery run fridge, small oven and stove, and a small braai (bring your own charcoal briquettes). While you are not allowed to take the boats into the ocean, Paul will provide you with a map of the river indicating no-go spots and good areas for a night stop.


Guidos is a popular lunch and dinner spot right on the beach. They have more balcony space than you might know what to do with so you get great ocean views wherever you sit. The menu offers no-fuss standard pastas and grills, but the ultra-thin crust pizza is tasty.

Link's Restaurant & Bar

Link's Restaurant & Bar has a large menu of steaks, seafood, pizza, pasta and grills as well as better than average pub grub. Perched atop a hill, the relaxed restaurant offers a great view overlooking the town and river. The upstairs desk is the perfect spot for a sundowner.

Thistle Restaurant & Highlander Pub

Thistle Restaurant & Highlander Pub serves up healthy portions of breakfast, all-day pub grub and tasty home-cooked evening meals in an old-school English restaurant located in the Royal St Andrews Lodge.

The Pillar Box

The Pillar Box is a prim little café and boutique eatery that serves breakfast and light lunches. The pace is slow but the surroundings are pleasant and wifi is available as you sip your coffee or tea.

The Snorting Grunter

The Snorting Grunter is where "everyone" goes to grab a drink on the beachfront, especially from Wednesday through Saturday nights when the place gets packed with students and locals. The wide-open spaces and many outdoor picnic tables are only restricted late at night when the outdoor area is closed to prevent noise complaints from the neighbors. Tuesday and Thursdays are pool tournament nights.

Lounge @ The Square

Lounge @ The Square is a club and art gallery displaying the works of owner Patrice Moreti. The large venue hosts everything from live concerts to raunchy theme parties, but consistently turns out the largest club scene in Port Alfred.