Last week, I attended the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism Members ‘Tourism Experiences’ Workshop at Broughton Country Estate. The event brought together some of the best of the best in the tourism industry in the Bay, and it was a great opportunity to meet people who are excited about tourism in our city. The workshop was facilitated by Shaun van Eck a.k.a. The Tourism Coach, and during the workshop, he posed the following question to us: “What attracts visitors to Nelson Mandela Bay?” After a brief discussion, some of the delegates shared what they think attracts holidaymakers to the bay, and it made me realise how much Nelson Mandela Bay natives love their city!
I took note of some of the answers, and thought I’d share the best reasons why locals love Nelson Mandela Bay.
1. the best of south africa in one spot
Port Elizabeth offers the best of both a cosmopolitan city and the rural safari destinations dotted across the country. The city has the Addo Elephant National Park on its doorstep – a quick 30 minute drive from the city to the park – where you can find the Big 7, beautiful beaches and the bustle of city life found in South Africa’s biggest cities. When you live in the Bay, you get can get the best of country living, and big city life.
2. a city of culture
The city is home to a diverse group of people, and while the country is known for its diversity, Nelson Mandela Bay boasts the best of the lot! Many different languages can be heard in conversations across the Bay, including Xhosa, Afrikaans and English. Because the city is situated in the Eastern Cape, Xhosa cultures can be found in many areas of Nelson Mandela Bay – even on the street, where vendors sell traditional African crafts and beadwork. Today, the Bay is a cultural melting pot made up of many different cultural and language groups.
3. blue flag beaches
Nelson Mandela Bay is home to some of the most beautiful beaches, making it a beach bum’s paradise! Our blue flag beaches can be found in pristine condition, the water is warm and welcoming in summer, and there is plenty to do at the beachfront. After a surf at Pollock Beach, you can get yourself a soft serve at Something Good Roadhouse, or go for a walk along Shark Rock Pier after a swim at Hobie Beach.
4. the friendly city
We’re fondly known as ‘The Friendly City’ and the city lives up to this nickname! Everywhere you go, you’ll find a smiling face, from the cashier at Spar, to the ‘oom’ at the Saturday evening braai. When you visit our shores, you’ll that most people are willing to lend a hand when you need help, or simply greet you in the shops or on the street. Port Elizabethans love to make small talk while in the queue at Checkers, and more often than not, you’re welcome to join in on the fun at your friend’s friend’s bring and braai!
5. safari experiences on our doorstep
I’ve met few people who haven’t spent a day at Addo Elephant National Park, leaving the city for the day, driving around the park in the hopes of spotting elephants, and coming home just in time for supper. It’s one of those activities many Port Elizabethans love to enjoy on the weekend, and it is a privilege to be able to see so many of South Africa’s wild animals from the comfort of your car.
6. a city with a rich history
Nelson Mandela Bay has been the site of many battles, the home of Khoisan and San hunters, was once the home of historical figures the likes of Govan Mbeki, Athol Fugard and Oliver Thambo, and is a city known for its colonial architecture. The city’s rich history is showcased across the bay at multiple sites, and exhibitions of Nelson Mandela Bay’s past can be found along Route 67, an art and heritage walk, No. 7 Castle Hill and South End Museum. Other historical landmarks in the bay include the Donkin Reserve and The Campanile.
7. quick and easy access to everything
If you’ve ever lived in Port Elizabeth, or you’ve been lucky enough to visit the Bay on holiday, you’ll know that you’ll spend no more than 20 minutes on the road! Getting from A to B is pretty easy in Nelson Mandela Bay, and the traffic is nothing compared to some of the country’s bigger cities. Bumper-to-bumper traffic – what’s that?
8. so much to see, so much to do
There is plenty to see and do in Nelson Mandela Bay! You can spend the day on the beach and head to Beershack for one of their delicious burgers and a Car Park John – an American Amber Ale brewed in the Bay – or go on a self-drive exploration of Kragga Kamma Game Park. Take a trip to Addo Elephant National Park, pack a picnic and savour sundowners on the dunes of Sardinia Bay Beach, or enjoy dinner on the deck with a view of the ocean at Blue Waters Café.
9. service with a smile
Nelson Mandela Bay is a city with a big heart, where locals are ready to serve you with a smile! From the servers in local coffee shops, to the petrol attendants getting you ready to travel to your next destination, you can expect service with a smile when you’re in Port Elizabeth! The locals wear ‘The Friendly City’ badge with pride, and there are not many cities in South Africa that can say that their service comes with the same ‘can-do’ attitude!
10. vibey food scene
Say what you will about Port Elizabeth, when it comes to good food, there is a variety to choose from! The city is best known for its food markets, including the The Valley Market and The Goodnight Market, and 2 for 1 Tuesday, where you can expect to find food trucks and foods from some of the best local eateries. With new restaurants popping up often, it’s difficult to know where to start, but Stanley Street is a firm foodie favourite, with the street lined with a number of restaurants, including Salt, Angelo’s and Two Olives.