Coffee Bay

Trip Start Jul 19, 2009
Trip End Oct 25, 2010

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Where I stayed
the coffee shack

Flag of South Africa  , Eastern Cape,
Monday, November 23, 2009

Of all the places I visited Coffee Bay was the place I loved most.
My last stop before returning to Durban for my flight back to Amsterdam.
The Bazz bus, a hop-on hop-off bus service running from Cape Town to Johannesburg, vans taking up to 9 or 10 passengers, brought me from Port Elizabeth to Umtata. I just spent the night at Port E, so not much to tell, but the Bazz bus is a great way of getting to the right places. Amicable  drivers throwing in interesting bits of information, making sure you can pee and eat in time. Fellow travellers sharing their experiences or sleeping, reading, listening to their music. Relaxed and chummy.
At a petrol station just outside Umtata we were picked up by the Coffee Shack shuttle, and after some confusion over the luggage (our driver, bit of a character, rasta hair and slightly disgruntled), we trundled off, destination Coffee Bay.
Or paradise, for that's what it seemed to me.
Looking around me, I thought: ' This is it.' This was were I was meant to be and immediately I felt a sadness for knowing I would have to leave too soon, or leave at all.
The lodge itself, situated right at the beach, was perfect. Perfect in a way that it had a good feel to it, the staff a remarkable team of people you would like to get to know better, running the place in their own special way. Hard to describe really. Ready and willing to help, but they are not going to hold your hand. Encouraging you to go find out for yourself and keen to know what that might be. A mixture of good humour and common sense - a typical South African trait?
The dorm was a bit of a shambles. Small, concrete floor, three bunk beds, no cupboards, one main light. Not all of them like this though and there are some delightful little huts just across the bay. Anyway, you dont spend much time there, do you? But I did end up sniffing some black socks, washing them, wearing them, that turned out to be someone else's, because of the jumble of clothes and stuff. The bathroom was really good, not next door, but it was kind of romantic, making your way across the deserted site by moonlight, the embers of the night's fire still glowing.
Not just travellers enjoying the scene; some locals were part of the entourage, pretty much at home, looking for a drink, a meal, someone to tell their stories to.
I was listening.

Coffee Bay reminded me of a place in Holland. Ruigoord, a small village near Amsterdam, now a community of drop-outs and hippies. An outlandish and magical spot  - a breath of fresh air, away from this crazy world we live in.
Coffee Bay has its own magic; free and easy, timeless and soothing. Irresistible, it draws you in and you won't even try to resist.
The surroundings are absolutely stunning. Nature at its best; the shores, the cliffs - I could spend hours just looking at the patterns on the rocks, picking up shells, listening to the swishing of the waves. Something I should have paid more attention to actually, as I almost drowned, trapped by the onrushing tide against the cliffs, no way back, forward or up.
That is, of course, a story within itself.
I'll tell it, soon, and then I'll shut up about Africa. For the time being, for I am determined to go back next year.
And yes, Clédat first. I got the message - some of you like that better.
We'll see - lets say goodbye to South Africa first. Or au revoir - I like that better :)

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starlagurl on

Awesome. Glad to hear you've found a place that's so close to your heart! I also can't wait until you go back next year.


katherine-anne on

ah, louise, that is sweet. thank you.
i'm guessing you must have a place like that too. i hope you do :)

starlagurl on

Alas, I do not.

It used to be Montreal... but that has since worn off... *sigh*

Rob V on


I have lived in South Africa most of my life, I plan to visit Coffee Bay next year - maybe I'll see you there?

katherine-anne on

nice reason to stop dreaming and start making more definite plans :)

katherine-anne on

louise-gurl, we can't have that. you come and join me at coffee bay next year and we'll sort something out, ok?

starlagurl on

Ahhh! Next year I'm going on a train trip in the U.S.A! I won't be able to go with you, unfortunately. Why don't you come with me??

Bart on

Hey Catherine-Ann, you said you almost drowned at coffee bay? It nearly happened to me as well, but close to Port St John. I was really overpowered by a strong current, but kept struggeling to find my way back to the coast. Do you remember having seen a warning sign or gotten any warning about this from your hostel? Where i was , there was nothing. I am planning on starting a project to put warning signs for unaware tourists. I have never been to Coffee bay so i wonder if it would be useful to include those beaches in the project. thanks

katherine-anne on

hi bart. thanks for your comment. warning signs? people are gonna love that, a pole always comes in handy :) but i do agree the hostels have a responsibility, they should have information on the dangers of the ocean. i'll have a word next time i am over there. but isnt it just wonderful to be at a place so undiscovered by tourism, pristine beaches, wild seas, rugged and adventurous............:)

bart on

Catherine-Ann, i understand what you are saying. but if paradise is going to be the end of you, I rather don't have paradise at all. My brother died during that accident, i was lucky to survive. now my heart is bereaved and out for a quest. all my tears are flowing aimlessly but one day they will turn into smiles when people will be safe in paradise. OK, maybe we should have informed ourselves better , but on the other hand, resorts and municipalities also have a responsabilty. but i really don't know how and where to address this problem. or should i just put my energy in new things and go on with my life?

katherine-anne on

bart, i am terribly sorry. please email me at if u wish to speak more privately

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