The jewel of the Eastern Cape’s Sunshine Coast has come a long way from its origins as a camping site for local farmers.
Known as “the jewel of the Sunshine Coast”, Kenton-on-Sea is also marketed as the place “where the sun spends the winter”.
Situated along the R72 between the Bushman’s and Kariega rivers about an hour east of Port Elizabeth, Kenton and its next neighbourhood Boesmansriviermond (Bushman’s River Mouth) are essentially one community.
While it is no longer the camping site for local farmers it was more than a century ago, Kenton is still pretty much a seaside holiday resort – albeit with fancier houses now, some of them worth millions.
Locals boast about the area’s relaxed lifestyle – thanks to its natural surroundings that allow you to enjoy all that nature has to offer. These include features such as Carriage Rock, Shelley Bay, and the exquisite coastline and the two navigable rivers, Kariega and Bushman’s. And thanks to its location on a peninsular between these two rivers, Kenton also offers a combination of beach and bush.
Being a seaside holiday village, the permanent occupancy rate in Kenton is about 35%, with the majority of residents being retirees. But Kenton (like other similar villages and small towns) fills up over the weekends and holidays.
The village’s CBD is typical of other seaside villages – there are a few small shopping centres with mainly independent stores. There is a pre-primary and a primary school in the area, but most children attend schools in nearby Port Alfred and Grahamstown. And there are at least five churches between Kenton and Bushman’s. Kenton’s biggest claim to fame (apart from it being ‘where the sun spends the winter’) is perhaps one of its best-known exports, the Butt Cat. The popular ski-boat is designed by Stanley Butt – a descendent of the Butt family whose visits here many years ago made the village what it is today.
The coastal features of Kenton are unique. It’s the meeting of many habitats (birding, riverine and marine). It’s a pleasant climate. It’s perfect for people who don’t want the bright lights and the big city.
– Graeme Arnott, resident.
- Joan Muirhead Nature Reserve: enjoy a day walk along this trail situated in the 30ha reserve above the beach between the Bushman’s and Kariega rivers.
- River cruise: take a leisurely cruise up one of the rivers with quirky - Bushman’s resident Bevan Gardner.
- Spend the day on Kariega Main Beach.
- Visit the Dias Cross.
Best in food:
The Sandbar Floating Restaurant: A must-do on the Kenton list, this floating restaurant is moored on the lagoon at Bushman’s River. It serves typical pub fare including light meals, seafood and grills.
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.