November 8, 2010
At the end of the Garden Route is Port Elizabeth, known as the friendly city. African Dawn was located between Port Elizabeth (known as PE by the locals) and Jeffrey’s Bay. Port Elizabeth has many beautiful beaches and a few museums, some shopping, and an aquarium. I didn’t get to spend that much time exploring PE because most of the time I spent there I was bed bound in a hotel room from my stomach flu, but I did get to know the Port Elizabeth Boardwalk pretty well. I had decided to check out the Boardwalk on one of my days off before heading to Addo for a sundowners safari drive. The Boardwalk is not actually a boardwalk on the beach in the traditional wooden stilts over the ocean sense. However there is a traditional wooden boardwalk like that just right across the street on the beach, but it small with no infrastructure on it. The Boardwalk sits just back from the beach on the other side of a main road. The Beach Hotel, where I spent most of my time during my stomach flu, sits right next to one of the two entrances to the Boardwalk, providing the hotel guests with a great beach view and direct access to shops and entertainment.
The Boardwalk itself is great for an afternoon of fun. There are a few shops, including a huge Billabong store and a local crafts market, but for the most part I found most of the shops to have somewhat trashy poorly made clothes. There are many restaurants and bars to choose from including a Greek restaurant, a pizza/pasta place, a seafood restaurant, a Japanese restaurant in a pagoda, and a great little café that has gourmet pizzas like California Pizza Kitchen. For entertainment there is a five-screen movie theater that I visited twice, which is pretty big and very clean. There is also a large casino (gambling age 18+), which has a full array of slot machines and card tables. I had a fun time playing at the casino because for me it was a chance to bet a little bigger then I could ever do in Vegas because here the minimum is 25 rand, which is about 3.5 dollars, whereas in Vegas most table minimums start at 10 dollars. For kids entertainment there is a tiny amusement park with a few small rides and a large arcade with many games. There is also an internet café in the boardwalk, which was great for me when I was staying at the sanctuary with no internet.
When visiting PE I would highly recommend The Beach Hotel as it is very well located next to one of PE’s best beaches (known as the blue flag beaches) and next to the Boardwalk. It is also only a 10-minute drive from the airport and not far from other attractions in the city or beyond like Addo. The hotel itself is very clean and has a two nice restaurants and a comfortable bar and lounge with outdoor space from which you get a wonderful view of the ocean. Unfortunately I didn’t get to enjoy the hotel as much as I would have hoped as I spent most of my time in bed and couldn’t eat anything other than toast and plain scrambled eggs. There is also free wifi, which is a little slow and not a great connection for using skype, but it’s great for basic surfing. If you know you will be wanting to use the internet I recommend asking for a room just off the main lobby area because that is where the connection is strongest and the first room I was put in way at the back of the hotel had zero reception and could not pick up the wifi signal whatsoever. The ocean view rooms, which are an extra $20 a night, have the best signal and are quite larger and nicer than the standard rooms. I stayed in one for a night during my first week, but unfortunately there wasn’t availability for me to stay there for the whole week I spent with the flu and was in one of the smaller rooms, which are nice too, but are much smaller and do not have a mini fridge in the rooms like the ocean view rooms have.