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The self-named ‘friendly city’ at the southern end of the Garden Route offers a laid-back alternative to Cape Town. By John Edwards
The recently upgraded Shark Rock Pier at Hobie Beach shares centre stage with the Boardwalk Hotel complex. It’s the jumping-off point for surfski, snorkelling and ocean kayaking.
Everywhere is the capital of something. Port Elizabeth is the ‘bottlenose dolphin capital of the world’. There are numerous pods in the bay, but the best way to see them up close is on a wildlife sea cruise. Raggy Charters offers a three-hour expedition, spotting whales, sharks and penguins too.
The suburb of Richmond Hill is five minutes from the beachfront. Stanley Street is the place for sidewalk cafés: try Fushin (Asian food with a twist and the New York, a California-style roll crammed with fresh tuna and avocado, topped with tempura prawns. Follow with something sweet at Salt – the ‘chocolate jar’ is a popular choice. More of an adult milkshake, it combines chocolate milk with liqueur and vodka.
The Cape Recife Nature Reserve is a deserted stretch of pristine beach and fynbos shrubbery best explored on foot via well-maintained trails. Watch the varied birdlife and seek out the World War II military observation post.
Port Elizabeth Opera House is the only surviving example of a Victorian theatre in Africa. It has strong links to the great performers of South African theatre, including John Kani and Nomhle Nkonyeni.
British Airways (operated by Comair) offers daily flights between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. To book visit ba.com