Port St Johns is a small coastal town in South Africa known as the Jewel of the Wild Coast, offering true warmth and hospitality. The Wild Coast is a 250 kilometer stretch of coast, gaining its name by its inaccessibility and reputation for ship-crushing waves. Today the Wild Coast still remains relatively untouched, offering rich rustic experiences and adventures.

The Wild Coast is the coastal area of the easterly Transkei region of the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It perches alongside the massive Umzimvubu River which has carved its way through the ancient rocks leaving two 300 metre ramparts towering on either side.

Port St Johns also offers a unique blend of cultural richness. The Xhosa culture, both traditional and modern, is always apparent. You can see a sangoma (traditional healer) strolling along in all his finery, hear the thumping sound of modern kwaito music from a furniture store, and dodge the ever-present mini-bus taxies. This vibrant noise and colour is contrasted with some crumbling reminders of a colonial history. In the streets you will hear Xhosa, Afrikaans and English as well as foreign languages from the steady stream of tourists seeking the unusual.

Dense bush encroaches into the town at any opportunity and a short walk will take you into silent forests. The sea is always close, crashing onto the rocky shores which guard the secluded beaches. Bask on the unspoiled beaches or take part in one of the many eco-friendly adventure trails on offer. Port St Johns offers comfortable and authentic South African accommodation and some unique activities.

Poenskop Beach to the north of Port St Johns is one of the most isolated. A few huts will be passed en route, but there is nothing except Africa out here. Fishing out of the rocks on the south side of the river produces good catches of Garrick and Kob in season.

Eagles nest is the cliff that overlooks the town. A brisk walk will take you to its summit in about an hour. The Cape Herms Lighthouse is the property of Spoornet, and celebrated its 100th birthday in 2005.

Silaka Game Reserve is about 6 km out of town where you can take a walk or game drive for beautiful game viewing and bird watching.

First Beach is the fishing beach just at the river mouth. It has big rocks where people can climb on top when they are fishing. It is where the lighthouse is located.

Dolphin and whales can be seen all year round, but are best seen during the months of June and July during the annual sardine run. Dolphins can be spotted all year round. Often playing in the surf at Second Beach. Porpoise and Bottle Nose dolphin are a common sight. Rare sightings of the more uncommon species such as Heavy side dolphin and Risso's dolphin happen out at sea, during the Sardine Run.

Umngazi River Valley - The common belief is that Umngazi (Mngazi) means "Blood" but linguists believe that it refers to thorn trees in the valley, "Umga". This river also opens to the sea through a wide lagoon. It is popular with fisherman and water sports enthusiasts, and also superb for bird watching.

Port St Johns Fun Rating

from 26 customer reviews
2.5 out of 5 stars!

Popular in Port St Johns

  • Photography
     
  • Beach
     
  • Hiking
     
  • Kayaking
     
  • Waterfalls
     
Press to Interact
To top Refresh
Available On Request

Just not worth it in any way
Port St Johns is essentially deeply depressing. Yes, there is some beautiful nature there - but given the complete lack of upkeep by the municipality and the terrible roads - littered with rotting animal corpses - and distance to get there - there's really no reason to ever visit this part of the world. Such a waste of potential. We'd heard stories from people who'd last been years ago and described it as one of the most amazing places.
Belinda Lewis
South Africa


So much potential!
The town itself is in a terrible state, dirty and falling apart. The tourism office was also closed for the entire time we were there. This little town has such amazing potential. Come on municipality, get yourselves in gear! The accommodation and nature in Port St Johns is truly stunning and they would benefit greatly from upgrading of the town center. But even though the state of the town is a bit sad, we will be back there in no time, having fallen in love with the people there!
Rialette
South Africa


PSJ in a minute
Port St Johns is not the cleanest town and their municipality is failing them with dilapidated infrastructure etc. It’s quite popular but needs some TLC. We had fun nevertheless.
Zoliswa Bacela
South Africa


Beautiful views
Port St Johns' surroundings have beautiful views and natural forests and very good fishing spots. Not too impressed with the town itself.
Raymond Pratt
South Africa


Nice rural place
Port St Johns has very nice natural forests and beaches. The people are great and the atmosphere is relaxed. Beautiful place!
Nick Scheunemann
South Africa


Port St Johns.
Teleurgesteld.Port St Johns is regtig nie wat ek verwag het nie dis vuil en slordig glad nie n dorpie waar jy wil oorbly nie. Ek wonder wat met die dorpie gebeur het dit lyk tog of dit op n stadium n mooi dorpie was.
Jaco Pieterse
South Africa


Jungle and ocean
Port St Johns is an unexpected place but beautiful as long as you love lush jungle and yellow sandy beaches!
thomas bakker
Netherlands


Unwind delux
My stay in Port St Johns was the most relaxed I had been for a long time! Away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, you have no choice to kick back and just enjoy the spectacularly beautiful beaches this town has to offer (don't swim on second beach though!!). Our hosts at Amapondo Backpackers were super friendly and we had a great walk to the waterfall during our stay with some fellow travellers. I recommend if you just want to totally rejuvenate yourself without any modern distractions.
Tamaryn Bradfield
South Africa


Port St Johns
Port St Johns as a destination has the allure of the old colonial Wild Coast. It has however been overtaken by times with the deforrestation of the Mt Thesinger Reserve just to the northwest of the town and a blooming informal settlement.The facility that we book was a big disappointment. No amount of words can describe it. It reminded one of stories from Treasure Island and was rustic in the true sense of the word. If one were on a student / backpacker's budget, then the place would not be so bad... The garding is also a bit misguided...
Mbongeni Tukela
South Africa


Port St John's - Definitely Different
Do you know I could tell you about the spectacular beaches, the incredible nature, ancient forests, views to die for...sounds familiar - well it's all true but what really makes Port St Johns different? It's a place with a history of shipwrecks and smugglers, hippies and wayward spirits, it's always attracted the different. Don't expect pristine streets, or modern shopping malls if thats your ideal holiday then give PSJ a miss. If however you want to experience the vibe and friendliness of what some might call the real Africa then come on down. Be quick it's changing fast so now is the time....
see more
Barbara Radford
South Africa


Port St Johns
Port St Johns – also known as the Jewel of the Wild Coast and Paradise in Pondoland, is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, about half way between Durban and East London.As the only coastal town in the former state of Transkei, Port St Johns has seen ups and downs, and has some fascinating history. The area was first visited by the Portuguese in the 1500’s. Most articles on Port St Johns highlight the relaxed lifestyle, writing of the little village as if it were caught in a marijuana induced time warp, that never made it out of the ‘60’s hippie era. This not true - the town does...
see more
Kathryn Costello
South Africa


Overnight stay only
Only overnighted, so can't comment too much on Port St Johns - but the "town" is dirty and shopping difficult (battled to buy a toothbrush!) Had two WONDERFUL meals at North East West South Restaurant. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Jean Thomassen
South Africa


Port St Johns
The access roads remains challenging due to obstacles such as potholes, pedestrians, slow vehicles, taxies and live stock. On Saturday nights there are huge activities and alckohol usage around the beaches and taverns in the areas. The town was not very clean due to a municipal workers strike the previous week. We did not feel safe and did not enjoy our stay and will not visit again.
charmaine muller
South Africa


Nice
Lovely river.
Kyle Hepple
South Africa


Not what we were hoping to find
I think the place has lost its lustre and after hearing great reviews we wanted to see for ourselves. As we arrived on Boxing Day and there is only one entry and exit to and from the town, I doubt we will return that way.
Julie Botha
South Africa


Disgusting
So disgusting ....so dirty .....so full of litter ....will never go back .....let them have it ...!!!!! So sad I would not give it a star rating at all but this web site makes you have to .
Sue Beamish
South Africa


Not good
The place resembles a big squatter camp.
Neil Myburgh
South Africa


Port St Johns is a dump.
No town planning, no refuse removal, no development, just rubbish and bottle stores. A very sad place indeed.
David Sternberg
South Africa


Heavenly...
Wow, what a heavenly place! Ocean meets beach meets jungle meets river meets authentic pub after adorable pub. Life is good.
Anita du Toit
South Africa


Rural town, but worth the visit!
I was a little taken aback by how rural the town is. Made me appreciate my blessings. It is a long drive from Mthatha to PSJ (about 80+ km) and there are many potholes in the roads. However, Second Beach is like something out of a fairy tale. Plus, the trees and shrubs are the greenest I have ever seen in my life. Find a nice guest house/resort for an enjoyable stay in PSJ.
Melanie Prins
South Africa