Filled with majestic flora and fauna, and picture-perfect mountain ranges surrounded by dense forests, Port St Johns is anything but boring.
The coastal town of Port St Johns is a small town gem untouched by large crowds or large-scale urbanisation.
Located along South Africa’s picturesque Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, Port St Johns sits at the opening of the Umzimvubu River, one of the most important rivers in the country. The 400 kilometre long waterway has a rainfall catchment area of almost 20,000 kilometres squared, and flows in a south easterly direction through of a magnificent gorge, known as the Gates of St John, and into the Indian Ocean.
Port St Johns has a rich history dating back to the 1800’s. Home to some of the Wild Coast’s biggest, havoc-wreaking waves, the town’s coastline has seen numerous ships meet their fate by being caught up in stormy conditions, ultimately being dumped onto the rocks. The most famous being the Grosvenor, a 729 tonne ship whose life was cut short a mere 43 kilometres away from Port St Johns after embarking on its return to England.
The town’s earliest inhabitants were of the Xhosa tribe, more specifically the Mthwa clan, who still reside in the town today. After being colonised by a small group of British traders in the mid 1800’s, Port St Johns remained as a Cape Colony until 1976, when the Apartheid government gave over control of the area to Chief K.D. Matanzima. Post Apartheid the town has enjoyed the freedom and prosperity that came with democracy. Today the town is still filled to the brim with Xhosa culture, from traditional healers to local music.
Mainly popular as a holiday town, Port St Johns is also home to a small number of permanent residents. With only 3,630 adults, 88% of existing homeowners have lived there for 11 years or more. Of these stable owners, 45% are of pensionable age (65 years or older). Interestingly, while the majority of long-term residents are in their senior years, the majority (60%) of recent buyers are classified as young adults, aged between 18 and 35 years. There are currently no buyers of pensionable age in the town. Port St Johns currently offers only freehold homes, with the average price rising from R725,000 in 2008, to R1 million in 2018.
Port St Johns is the perfect location for adventurers and nature lovers. Home to a number of wildlife reserves, majestic mountains, dense forests and mangrove swamps, residents and tourists alike will not be lacking in the activity department:
Hiking: Port St Johns is a hiker’s paradise. From Silaka Nature Reserve to Eagles Nest, and Hluleka Wildlife Reserve, there are numerous trails to take in around these breathtaking nature-filled hotspots.
Beaches: First beach, Long beach, Poenskop beach, Mtentu beach and Lubanzi beach all offer its visitors plenty of opportunity for fishing, swimming, walking, hiking and surfing on their pristine shores.
Dining out: Moonshadow restaurant, News Café and Jesters Coffee shop all provide a mix of local and international cuisine to suit the tastes of all their patrons, from woodfired pizza, and traditional Xhosa dishes, to delicious homemade pies.
Port St Johns’ strong blend of Xhosa and British cultural heritage makes it a town both interesting and fun for anyone. Whether you’re in for quiet retirement, action packed holiday or slow, scenic trip, Port St Johns caters for all those things. The town may be small, but its offering is far from it.