East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa

East London beach.
East London is a charming little town nestled on the edge of the Indian Ocean. Nothing happens very fast here, but the surf is excellent and the city is well placed as a starting point for trips to and along the Wild Coast.

Guests can enjoy a four-wheel drive trip or an escorted hike from one hotel to the next along the Wild Coast Meander hike. In the north, tiny settlements lie scattered across the coast, with Cintsa being one of the loveliest spots.About 20 minutes from East London is the town of Gonubie, home to beautiful beaches and tranquil riverside picnic areas, the ideal place for a pleasant weekend afternoon. Take in the scenery of ocean and the Gonubie River mouth by strolling down the boardwalk, built to protect the dunes.

The East London Museum is home to a fascinating specimen of preserved coelacanth, a fish that was thought to be extinct for 70 million years. It was discovered in December of 1938 by Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a young museum curator in East London. It was named Latimeria Chalumnae in her honour. East London houses a grand town hall in the centre of the city's main road, Oxford Street. Outside this hall stands a statue of anti-apartheid activist, the late Steve Bhiko, who died while in police custody.

Nearby is the montane forest region of Hogsback, boasting terrific hikes and day walks. Legend has it that it is these tangled forests that JRR Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings and who was born in Bloemfontein) got his inspiration for Middle Earth. Surfing is also quite a prominent past time in East London. Nahoon Reef is a popular beach for local surfers in search of the perfect wave. The water is warm and the beach is tidy and white. There is no better way to start your day than by taking a pleasant stroll along the beachfront.

The East London Waterfront plays hosts to a number of tiny craft and gift shops, restaurants and pubs. You can also enjoy a boat cruise around the harbour, situated in the mouth of the Buffalo River.
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