A seaside retreat with a difference, St Francis Bay and its neighbour Cape St Francis have the unique ability to give the sense of an exclusive paradise as well as suburban bliss.
The seaside village not only boasts glorious beaches, excellent water sports and a leisurely lifestyle, but also has safe, secluded homes, making it a uniquely styled town.
St Francis Bay is situated in the Kouga district of the Eastern Cape, which is midway between Port Elizabeth and Knysna. The village largely consists of white houses with either thatched or black-tiled roofs on the canals or around the golf course, while a Mediterranean building style is prevalent in Santareme and Port St Francis.
The streets are green, leafy and quiet and the town has a holiday resort feel throughout the year. The closeness of the community was most evident five years ago when on 11 November 2012 a fire destroyed 76 homes in the mostly thatched roofed town. The community came together in a way that made headlines across the country. It was reported that residents left destitute by the blaze and those evacuated as a preventative measure had people from surrounding areas coming to their aid offering accommodation and transport. People even came forward to help pets affected by the fire and offered storage for items not ravaged by the flames.
Port St Francis includes a commercial and recreational harbour built to host the squid industry's freezing vessels. It lies in a sheltered nook of the bay and provides safe anchorage for the boats, pleasure crafts and ocean-going yachts. St Francis Field is an airpark close to the port that caters for those who wish to fly in.
The rustic fishing village, Cape St Francis, sits adjacent to St Francis Bay. It is popular for its clean beaches and prime surfing spots. The village is home to a Penguin Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre as well as the Seal Point Lighthouse.
Walking trails wind along the rocky coast, through the Irma Booysen Floral Reserve, and along the Cape St Francis point, linking it to the village of St Francis Bay.
This is without a doubt the most tranquil, caring and serene community in South Africa, coupled with the most scenic of backdrops
Lloyd Cornwall, homeowner
Where to shop:
- First Choice Gifts: a dairy-inspired gift shop in Humansdorp
- 95 on Main: Humansdorp’s stylish lifestyle centre
- Heritage Gifts: a Humansdorp gift shop that helps with community upliftment
Best in food:
- The Lighthouse Restaurant: an elegant and warm family restaurant overlooking the beautiful Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, St Francis Links.
- Pommes Frites Bistro: a small, vibrant European style restaurant at St Francis Bay Village.
- Grill and Company: for a wide range of signature healthy meals and grills.
Where to relax:
- Bard’au and Co: a beauty spa with a modern twist, incorporating a boutique and on-location treatments.
- Cruises: various deep sea charters are available from Port St Francis.
- Hibiscus health and beauty studio: a relaxing spa with a wide variety of treatments
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.