Port Elizabeth, South Africa cruises

As you sail to Port Elizabeth, or “The Bay,” you begin to sense the energy and prosperity of this thriving city. It is one of the largest, sunniest and wonderfully vibrant cities in all South Africa.

The city stretches for 10 miles along Algoa Bay and is one of the major seaports in the country. Traveling to South Africa by ship it is quite likely you will cruise to Port Elizabeth to dock. As you sail into the port area there are magnificent views of a small group of islands, home to many rare seabird populations, dotted in the waters.

The Port Elizabeth harbor, waterfront and city center were renovated for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. It is a stylish and prosperous port with dazzling white buildings towering behind bobbing private yachts and cruisers. The British heritage of Port Elizabeth is indelibly marked in the classical architecture which at first glance looks entirely European.

The seaport was founded by the British Acting Governor, Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin in 1820. Many people assume Donkin named the port after the queen but it is actually named after his beloved wife.

Many of the local historic attractions are linked by “The Donkin Trail.” The tour is signposted with information boards at each point of particular interest. Enjoy the trail at a leisurely pace and soak in the fascinating historical sights. The Donkin Street terraced houses are enchanting, with their row of stepped roofs and picket fence balconies.

Today they are classed as a national monument and preserved as a testament to the past. The terrace is just one spectacle out of 51 places of historical interest you will come across as you follow the trail.

Port Elizabeth is located within a stretch of south-eastern coastline known as “The Garden Route” due to its verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation and the numerous lakes and lagoons dotted along the coast.

For nature lovers Port Elizabeth is a popular destination for whale watching. Humpback whales visit twice a year in summer and winter from June to August and November to January. Southern right whales enter the waters between July and November and Bryde’s whales can be sighted all year round.

The wider area surrounding Port Elizabeth also has some great game reserves including the Addo Elephant Park, 45 miles to the north near the Zuurberg mountain range and National Park. South Africa is often called the Rainbow Nation and the menus you encounter during your visit to Port Elizabeth will show you why. There is not a country that is not represented in the restaurants here. Italian restaurants sit next door to Chinese, then Mexican and French. It is like a gastronomic world tour walking around the city’s eateries. For a more authentic taste of Port Elizabeth, visit the township. The local Xhosa people are warm, hospitable and keen to show off their home-brewed beers and traditional food. Try bobotie, the closest thing to South Africa’s national dish. This hearty meal is similar to moussaka and made with curried meat and topped with a creamy, egg topping.