Coffee Bay & Port St. John’s – Festivals & Flat Tires

After the most amazing animal spotting in Addo National Park, we decided to let our adrenaline calm down a bit and head to the chilled out/hippy area of Coffee Bay. As it was pretty far away, we decided to spend the night in Chintsa, too bad we only had the one night there, it looked really nice. Again, there’s just too much to see and do in South Africa!

The drive to Coffee Bay was beautiful; gorgeous valleys, mountains and local villages were the backdrop for our journey. Along the way, once we had turned off the highway and onto a long sideroad, there were signs for “potholes”…that was an understatement!

They were like canyons in the pavement. Nick had to dodge them left and right, which is hard when there’s no shoulder (the road just ends and there is a ditch down below usually), there was oncoming traffic and many, many people walking on the road. Unfortunately, after almost reaching our destination, the potholes got the best of us. We crashed into the canyon head on…there was nowhere else to go, a huge truck was coming in the other lane. Instantly, popped tire. Not just the bladder, the actual tire had a massive cut in it.

A few swear words were said and we pulled over, switched on the hazards, popped the trunk, unloaded all the luggage to get at the spare and the tools, jacked up the car and did the switch…all with an audience of local curious Xhosa (the tribe living in that area) kids watching. Just a typical day in Africa!

south africa for budget backpackers
the local homes called ’roundevels’, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
Fixing a flat tire with an audience of Xhosa kids, South Africa

We were going to Coffee Bay for the popular backpacker festival: the annual drumming festival. The backpackers we stayed at was alright, definitely not one of the best though. We spent the day having a much needed nap and woke up in time for dinner and beers before the festival started around 8:00.

There were lots of local Xhosa people there for the event, mainly as performers. There was tribal dancing, beautiful singing, an Australian man playing the didgeridoo, fire twirlers, a couple of rock bands and of course, lots and lots of African drumming!

The drumming and partying went into the wee hours of the morning. We enjoyed the festival and the Coffee Bay area, but felt that we couldn’t connect with the local people and unfortunately, that the segregation between races was very strong there. We woke up feeling surprisingly fresh and decided to head out early to our next stop…Port St. John’s.

south africa for budget backpackers
enjoying a beer at the Coffee Bay drum festival, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
One of the performing groups at the Coffee Bay Drum Festival, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
Fire twirling at the Coffee Bay Drum Festival, South Africa

We were pleasantly surprised when we got to Port St. John’s and glad we had left Coffee Bay early. Set right on the ocean, the very small town was surrounded with lush tropical vegetation, beautiful cliffs and a pristine coastline. We planned to spend a night or so there but once we saw our backpackers (Jungle Monkey), we stayed for 3 glorious nights.

The huge private room was perfect. It was away from the main house and our deck overlooked the jungle and rocky cliffs. The best part was the outdoor, open air shower! We spent the mornings sitting on our chairs, having coffees and enjoying the views.  The perfect spot for budget backpackers.

south africa for budget backpackers
The beautiful double room at Jungle Monkey, Port St. John’s, South Africa

The first day there we went for a drive over to “second beach” and walked the long stretch of beach before noticing a sign that said “cross here”. We did what the sign said and walked the jungly pathway along the coastline to where it opened up on top of a massive hill overlooking the ocean. Beautiful views from the top. We then noticed another pathway leading down to the ocean a bit.

So, we followed it and were rewarded with even better views of the ocean with dolphins swimming by! Across from where we were perched watching the dolphins, there was another hill and in order to get to it, we had to rock-climb down the mountain (we were holding a cable rope for safety), climb down one wooden ladder, cross the narrow rocky pathway connecting the two mountains and climb up another wooden ladder.

It was really nerve wracking but with some encouragement from Nick, I was able to make it. I was so glad we made the extra effort to get there.  When backpacking, some of the best experiences you can have are often the ones that take a bit of effort to get to. After walking along the small cliff/mountain, we noticed that when the huge waves came crashing in, a big spray of water shot into the air. We investigated it a bit further and turns out it was a blow hole! We’d never seen one before. The strength and speed of the waves coming in, forces the water through a small hole in the rocks, causing a huge 30 foot spray ie: blowhole effect. We watched that for a bit and hiked back towards our house. A great day.

south africa for budget backpackers
Beautiful Second Beach, Port St. John’s, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
Dariece walking along beautiful Second Beach, Port St. John’s, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
We made a sandman on the beach! Port St. John’s, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
Hiking down a ladder to get to the blow hole, Port St. John’s, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
Hiking back from the blowhole, Port St. John’s, South Africa
south africa for budget backpackers
A blowhole! Port St. John’s, South Africa

The next days were spent relaxing and doing our backpacker errands: laundry, blogging and grocery shopping. One evening our backpackers provided a shuttle to take us and some other people staying there up to an old airstrip for sunset. The sunset was beautiful, a bit windy though, but still really nice. We said goodbye to our jungle setting and headed back on the highway to Umzumbe. Diving was next on the agenda!

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Coffee Bay & Port St. John's - Festivals & Flat Tires

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Written by

Dariece Swift

Dariece is a co-founder of Goats On The Road, and an expert in saving money, finance management, building an online business and of course... travel. She loves meeting new people, trying new cuisines, and learning about the unique cultures of our world. She has over 10 years of experience helping others to realize their travel dreams and has worked in numerous jobs all over the world to help pay for travel. Her advice about long-term travel, remote work, and location independence has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider and Forbes. Learn more about Dariece Swift on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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