Hotels in and around the East London suburb
East London is a coastal town on the east coast of the magnificent South African shoreline. It enjoys the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, which contribute to the relaxed ambience that permeates the air. Notably, East London is the only river port in the whole of South Africa and lies between the rivers Buffalo and Nahoon.
Visitors to East London will delight in the abundance of beautiful beaches, tasty cuisine, friendly people and luxurious resorts. This town is also close to larger metropolis like Nelson Mandela Bay (comprised, in part, of Port Elizabeth) in the Eastern Cape and Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. The routes between East London and other destinations are scenic and safe for driving. They are also littered with small villages and natural attractions that make the drive all the more special.
East London is the Eastern Cape’s second largest industrial centre. The most prominent player in this sector is the automotive industry, followed by textiles, clothes and pharmaceuticals.
As with the majority of the African continent, local tribes once occupied East London. In this area, these tribes spoke Xhosa. They lived off the land and established strong tribal bonds throughout the area. When the British troops began to arrive in the mid 19th century, Frontier wars began as they tried to oust the local Xhosa community. East London, or Port Rex as it was known, was the port through which supplies were given to the military headquarters, which was situated approximately 50km away in King William’s Town. This port is still in operation, dating it at almost 150 years old!
German settlers arrived after the British and are responsible for the many towns with German names surrounding East London (e.g. Stutterheim).
East London became an official city in 1914. Being surrounded by Bantu homelands during the apartheid years, it experienced a lot of political insecurity. It involved much rehabilitation and investment to restore this city’s commercial and political viability. Today, East London is part of the Buffalo City’s municipality and is a thriving destination.
East London is located within fairly close proximity to Port Elizabeth (about 3 hours by car) and Durban (around 5 hours’ drive). The roads are scenic and in relatively good condition. Alternatively, taxis or tour buses / shuttles travel these routes as well.
Within the town of East London, many attractions are within walking distance from one another. The roads are safe and well organised. It is not advised that tourists and foreigners use the minibus taxis that are freely available unless you are familiar with the local languages and customs. Also, be aware of the condition of these vehicles, as they are not all road worthy.
East London has an airport of its own. However, flights are for local destinations only (i.e. within South Africa).
This seaside town boasts many things to do and see for every member of the family. Make the most of the warm Indian Ocean waters and relax on the beach, swim, sail, SCUBA dive, snorkel or jet ski. The aquarium is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon for adults and children alike, and the East London Zoo will fascinate even the most discerning of guests.
There are several game reserves, including Inkwenkwezi and Mpgongo, which are home to some of South Africa’s most beautiful fauna and flora. Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve is home to 5 different biomes and the Big 5 (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos and buffalos), as well as many other animals, birds and plants.
The beaches in East London are an attraction in their own right. Gonubie Beach is a Blue Flag one, a notable achievement that reflects its commitment to environmental responsibility, safety, and convenient facilities. Nahoon Beach is certainly one of the most popular. It is extensive, and popular amongst surfers. It is also home to the East London Surf Life Saving Club. The Nahoon River runs into this beach, and the estuary is a hotspot amongst avid fishermen and young or inexperienced bathers.
The Eastern Cape benefits from a particularly temperate climate. Summers are generally hot and winters are comfortably cool. The summer extends from December to March, and winter is from June to August. Summer temperatures in East London average a noonday high of about 30 degrees Celsius and winters drop to about 15 degrees Celsius during the day.
East London is not a malaria-affected area. However, visitors are advised to consult with a doctor or travel clinic regarding the rest of their travel itinerary, as some of the northern areas of the country, as well as the surrounding countries, may be susceptible to Malaria.
Always apply insect repellent and sunscreen when travelling anywhere in South Africa, regardless of the season. Because you are likely to be visiting the beaches in East London, be particularly aware of avoiding sun damage.
Bring your prescriptions for spectacles and medication with you to South Africa so that you can restock at a local pharmacy without having to consult with a doctor or hospital during your stay. Ensure that your tetanus shots are up-to-date as some areas in and around East London are fraught with litter, including broken glass, cans and metal.
As with any destination the world over, there are some areas of East London that should be avoided. Consult your travel agent, some of the locals, or your hotel to ensure that you are aware of any areas to be avoided. In addition, do not walk around the city centre or tourist attractions carrying large amounts of cash or photographic / video equipment and do not accept unwanted help from strangers. It is advisable that you stay in a group of people and do not stray off on your own. If you are travelling around by car, do not leave any valuables in the car. Should beggars approach you, you may choose to give them food or water. Avoid giving them money.