* This article first appeared here in VIEW Magologue
Come winter or summer, the Wild Coast is just waiting to feed the soul. Lines of green hills that had seemingly rush in excitement to the coast, finally tumbling with delight into the warm ocean below. While many of the Wild Coast spots require a fair amount of driving and are quite remote, there are a surprising number of beguiling breakaways that are closer than you think. Here are three of my favourites.
The quaint Chintsa is a relatively lesser-known South African town that sits on the most accessible end of the Wild Coast. At a mere 45-minute drive from East London airport, paradise has never been so easy to reach. What’s more, there’s an impressive range of accommodation options to suit all budgets.
Inkwenkwezi offers thrilling game drives in their 4500-hectare reserve, including the chance to overnight in their spacious tents and see their rare white lions. For decades Crawford’s Beach Lodge has been offering much-loved Wild Coast family breaks. For an exclusive and romantic getaway, the 5-star Prana Lodge ticks every luxury box – and then some. If time permits swing by Emeraldvale Brewery to taste your way through their craft creations.
At just over an hour’s drive from the airport, Morgans Bay is an equally tempting Wild Coast option. The Morgans Bay Hotel is an iconic establishment – popular with families and foreigners alike. With the all-inclusive rates, there’s very little to worry about other than exploring the wild surroundings. The relatively short walk from the Double Mouth viewpoint back to the village takes is one the best ways to take in the dramatic scenery.
Adrenaline junkies can prepare to revel with some thrilling abseiling down the cliffs with local instructor Dirk van der Walt – a bucket-list adventure experience. A mere 15-minute drive away Wild Coast Horse Trails offers a variety of outrides. If the idea of riding a horse along the ocean is on your list then their trails along the post-card beaches are sure to check the box.
If it’s complete remoteness that you’re after, then look no further than Wavecrest. Situated on a headland adjacent to the confluence of the Inxaxo and Ngqusi rivers, Wavecrest’s views are almost unbeatable. The rivers create connected waterways that boast the southernmost mangrove swamps on the planet! On either side of the river mouth picturesque beaches and inviting dune stretch as far as the eye can see.
Part of Wavecrest’s offerings is boat cruises up the estuary – the sunset cruise is my favourite – just be on the lookout for the beautiful and endemic mangrove kingfishers. It is also a fisherman’s paradise with a variety of shore angling offerings, from shallow bays, river mouths, estuaries; deep-water points and open beaches. The spa also offers a range of rejuvenating therapies to kick-start those vacation feels.
While driving between these hotels in the Wild Coast is easily done, it’s also possible to make transfer via horseback or slackpacking. For more information visit the wildcoastsouthafrica.com website – a treasure-trove of suggestions and resources on this remarkable part of the country’s coastline.