Port St Johns
Port St Johns beach © garethphoto
Port St Johns is a good travel base in the Transkei region and has become the central tourism hub on the Wild Coast, with famously lovely beaches, great surfing opportunities, fantastic fishing (deep sea and shore angling) and some fun and atmospheric backpackers lodges for budget travellers. Port St Johns is a town of about 7,000 people, situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. The estuary is one of the main reasons why this stretch of coast is so picturesque, but sadly it is also a contributing factor to the frequency of shark attacks on the town's beaches, which make swimming and surfing a bit nerve-racking despite the idyllic conditions. The Umzimvubu River flows through an impressive sandstone gorge referred to as the 'Gates of St John' and visitors should make the effort to drive up to Mount Thesiger, just above the town, to marvel at the stunning views of the estuary from on high (some of the backpackers and lodges offer the ride up for sundowners free of charge). Dense, jungle-like vegetation surrounds the town, traversed by some scenic walking trails, and the town itself is endearingly laid back and sleepy, with an abidingly Xhosa cultural flavour and some basic shops and bohemian-style restaurants.