weekend getaways near East London
Destination Activities,  DESTINATIONS,  East London,  Eastern Cape,  The Wild Coast

10 Must-See Destinations Near East London for Every Traveler

East London, situated in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, is a city known for its laid-back feel, lovely beaches, and sunny weather. While the city has its unique charm, sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need for a rejuvenating escape. East London’s prime location on the edge of the Wild Coast makes it a great base for weekend trips to beautiful beach towns and their surrounds. The city is also conveniently close to some fantastic and affordable wildlife reserves and forested regions. So, whether you’re a beach bum or a bush baby, here are 10 weekend getaways near East London for your next adventure.

1. Stutterheim

Stutterheim, forest destinations near East London

Distance from East London: Approximately 75 kilometers (1 hour 15 minutes)

Highlights: Mountain, forest, birdwatching, hiking

Stutterheim is a hidden gem just 75 kilometers from East London, perfect for a quick getaway. If you’re into nature, serene vibes, and forest trails, then this one’s for you. The Indigenous Kologha Forest on the outskirts of Stutterheim offers some awesome hiking, horse and mountain bike trails. Combined with nearby dams, hills and a thriving bird life, Stutterheim is a magnet for hikers, cyclists, birdwatchers, and campers seeking tranquil escapes into nature.

Where to stay in Stutterheim

Hornbills Cottage Stutterheim
Hornbills Forest Cottages, Stutterheim

Stutterheim has a variety of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. Two popular options include The Manderson Hotel and the Shire Eco Lodge.

We stayed in the lovely Yellowood Cottage at Hornbills Forest Cottages. This budget-friendly accommodation is fully self-catering and sleeps six in 2 bedrooms. The cottage is equipped with outdoor braai facilities, as well as an indoor fireplace. Set in a stunning garden, with views across the forest, the location is picture-perfect.

  • Book your stay at Hornbills Forest Cottages here

2. Chintsa

Chintsa, beach destinations near east london

Distance from East London: Approximately 38 kilometers (30 minutes)

Highlights: Safe swimming beaches, water activities, horseriding

Chintsa, a picturesque coastal village located 35 kilometers northeast of East London, is renowned for its beautiful beaches, peaceful ambiance, and abundant outdoor activities. The long, sandy shores and warm, safe waters make it a perfect spot for a beach holiday. Birdwatchers will love the area’s rich birdlife, so don’t forget your camera and binoculars. For those seeking more adventure, other popular activities in Chintsa include surfing, kayaking, and horseback riding.

Where to stay in Chintsa

Purple Haze Eco Lodge Chintsa
Purple Haze Eco Lodge, Chintsa accommodation

In Chintsa, you can choose from a variety of accommodations to suit different preferences and budgets. There are beachfront resorts for a luxurious stay, backpacker lodges for affordable and social options near the beach, self-catering cottages for flexibility, and guesthouses offering personalized hospitality and a chance to connect with locals.

One I personally recommend is Purple Haze Eco Lodge, only 1.4 km from Chintsa Beach. This eco-friendly lodge offers comfortable accommodation surrounded by a garden, along with free private parking, a terrace, and barbecue facilities. Each room includes a convenient corner kitchenette equipped with a fridge, microwave, and kettle. Rooms have a private balcony overlooking the ocean in the distance. The sunset views from their rooftop are absolutely stunning!

3. Haga-Haga

Haga Haga beach destinations near east london

Distance from East London: Approximately 65 kilometers (1 hour)

Highlights: Tranquility, unspoilt and uncrowded beaches

Haga Haga is a tranquil coastal village located along the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, approximately 70 kilometers northeast of East London. Haga Haga is celebrated for its untouched beauty and relaxed vibe, making it a perfect hideaway with stunning beaches, rocky cliffs, and lush coastal scenery. Activities include swimming, surfing, fishing, hiking, bird watching and beach walks. This laid-back village is all about relaxation and quiet.

Read More >>> Haga-Haga: A weekend off the beaten track

Where to stay in Haga-Haga

Oppieplaas Country Estate in Haga Haga
Oppieplaas Country Estate – self-catering cottage for 4

When it comes to places to stay, there are some lovely private beach front rentals, as well as the well-known Haga-Haga Hotel. However, if you want to experience warm, family hospitality, then I highly recommend Oppieplaaas Country Estate. It’s located on a gorgeous working farm, only a 5-minute drive from Haga-Haga beach. Owners Niel and Erna are fantastic, the accommodation is affordable and they have an on-site restaurant serving up the most delicious food!

Read More >>> Oppieplaas Country Estate: A top choice in Haga-Haga

  • Book your stay at OppiePlaas Country Estate here

4. Morgan Bay

Morgan Bay Beach

Distance from East London: Approximately 80 kilometers (1 hour)

Highlights: Hiking along the Cliffs, beaches, adrenaline activities

Morgan Bay, nestled on the edge of the Wild Coast, is a tranquil coastal village known for its beaches and dramatic cliffs. Outdoor activities include leisurely beach days, surfing, fishing, horse riding, abseiling, and hiking along scenic trails with panoramic ocean views. For a full list of activities in Morgan Bay, click here.

Read More >>> Morgan Bay: Discover the best things to do

Morgan Bay, a getaway near East London
Hiking the Morgan Bay Cliffs

Read More >>> Your Go-To Guide for Activities at the Morgan Bay cliffs

Where to stay in Morgan Bay

The village is a popular destination for families and adventurers alike, with options ranging from self-catering cottages and beachfront guesthouses to The Morgan Bay Hotel overlooking the bay.

5. Kei Mouth

Kei Mouth near East London

Distance from East London: Approximately 80 kilometers (1 hour)

Highlights: Beaches, rural and small-town feel, hiking, birdwatching

Kei Mouth is an off-the-beaten-path coastal village located at the mouth of the Kei River. With cows often laying around on the roads or strolling along the beach, there’s certainly an element of adventure during a visit to Kei Mouth. Kei Mouth’s coastal location puts it in a perfect position for swimming, sunbathing, and beach walks. Adventure seekers can take on thrilling water sports such as canoeing, fishing, and boating along the Kei River. Hiking is another great way to explore the area with ocean views providing a backdrop to most of the trails.

Kei Mouth is also known for the famous Pont, a pontoon that helps people and vehicles cross the river easily. It’s also the gateway to the stunning Wild Coast, a beautiful stretch of South Africa’s coastline.

Read More >>> Kei Mouth: Discover the best things to do

Where to stay in Kei mouth

Nautical Beach Cottage in Kei Mouth
Nautical Beach Cottage, self-catering accommodation in Kei Mouth

Accommodation ranges from guesthouses and resorts to self-catering cottages. I have personally stayed at Nautical Beach Cottage and thought it was absolutely beautiful! The self-catering cottage sleeps four in 2 bedrooms, with an open plan living room and kitchen. The living area opens onto a verandah with a built-in braai area, and parking is available in the large garden. Situated about a 5 minute drive from the beach and other attractions in Kei Mouth, it’s in an ideal location to explore the region.

Read More >>> Kei Mouth Self-catering accommodation: Nautical Beach Cottage

6. Matola Game Reserve

Distance from East London: Approximately 81 kilometers (1 hour)

Highlights: Wildlife, safari experience, game drives, hiking trails

Located in the serene Kambusi Valley near Komga, Matola Private Game Reserve lies an easy 1-hour drive (~83km) from East London. The beautiful landscape of grasslands, mountains, and rivers creates an ideal backdrop for relaxation and incredible animal sightings. I was so amazed by the amount of animals that we saw during our visit here, especially the herds of antelope racing across the plains! Activities at Matola include hiking, bird watching, mountain biking, wildlife drives, and picnics. Accommodation options cater for both couples and large groups, featuring lodgings with breathtaking views of the reserve’s natural beauty. Guests can choose between self-catering or fully catered options for food.

Read More >>> Matola Game Reserve: A hidden gem in the Eastern Cape

7. Double Drift Nature Reserve (Great Fish River)

Double Drift Nature Reserve

Distance from East London: Approximately 155 kilometers (2.5 hours)

Highlights: Hiking in big game territory, history and culture, uncrowded and serene

Double Drift Nature Reserve is a 23000 ha area of dense, pristine valley bushveld brimming with wildlife. It remains relatively undiscovered, so you can enjoy its serene landscapes without crowds. Guided hikes lead through diverse habitats where you might spot wildlife like hippo, rhino, and buffalo. The reserve’s historical significance includes frontier forts from conflicts between Xhosa and British settlers, as well as ancient San rock art sites. Activities include hiking, picnicking at the Dam, wildlife viewing, and rustic overnight stays, making Double Drift a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Read More >>> Double Drift Nature Reserve: Hiking and hippos

8. Port Alfred

Port Alfred, a getaway near East London

Distance from East London: Approximately 155 kilometers (1.5 hours)

Highlights: Rich maritime history, beaches, various restaurants & accommodations

Port Alfred, located on South Africa’s Sunshine Coast, is a lovely coastal town known for its beautiful beaches, peaceful river estuary, and fascinating maritime history. Visiting Port Alfred means unwinding by boating on the Kowie River, exploring the historic town center with its Victorian buildings, and lounging on sunny beaches such as Kelly’s Beach. The town offers a laid-back vibe with plenty of places to stay, and diverse restaurant options from seafood to local dishes, making it an one of the most well-loved destinations near East London.

Read More >>> Best Things to do in Port Alfred

Where to stay in Port Alfred

Villa Majestic Port Alfred

Port Alfred offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Below are two popular choices for stays in Port Alfred:

  1. Royal St. Andrews Hotel: This historic boutique hotel in the heart of Port Alfred offers luxury accommodation, fine dining, and a beautiful garden setting.
  2. Halyards Hotel and Spa: Located on the banks of the Kowie River, this hotel has comfortable rooms, a spa, and easy access to water-based activities.

For a budget-friendly stay, Villa Majestic is a great choice. It’s just a quick 5-minute drive from Kelly’s Beach, perfect for safe swimming and family fun. The breakfast is delicious, and the host is super friendly, making you feel really welcome. The guesthouse is also conveniently located 1 km from both the Royal Port Alfred Golf Course and the beach, offering rooms with satellite TV, private bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi, plus stunning sea views.

9. Bathurst

Bathurst, a getaway near East London

Distance from East London: Approximately 165 kilometers (2 hours)

Highlights: Quaint small town feel, old historical buildings, World’s oldest continuously licenced Pub, vibrant art community

Bathurst is a delightful small town located in the Eastern Cape, exuding a captivating blend of history and charm. Known for being the oldest settler village in the region, Bathurst boasts a rich heritage showcased in its well-preserved historical buildings and landmarks. The most famous of these is the Big Pineapple, an iconic 16.7-meter tall structure that stands as a testament to the town’s agricultural roots. Bathurst is also home to the world’s longest continuously licenced pub, the Pig & Whistle. Bathurst’s quaint streets are lined with craft shops, galleries, and cozy cafes, making it a perfect destination for leisurely strolls and exploration.

Read More >>> 8 Reasons to visit Bathurst in the Eastern Cape

Where to stay in Bathurst


The historic Pig and Whistle is a budget-friendly and convenient place to stay in Bathurst. With an on-site restaurant and prime location on the corner of main street, you won’t go wrong with this choice.

10. Hogsback

Distance from East London: Approximately 155 kilometers (2 hours)

Highlights: forests, waterfalls, hiking, mountain cabins, vibrant art scene

Hogsback is a picturesque mountain village, situated approximately 130 kilometers north of East London. Nestled in the Amatola Mountains, Hogsback is renowned for its enchanting forests, cascading waterfalls, and misty landscapes that seem straight out of a fairytale. The village is named after the three distinct mountain peaks that resemble the bristles of a hog’s back. In Hogsback, you can explore numerous hiking trails that wind through indigenous forests, with opportunities to spot a variety of bird species and other wildlife. Popular attractions include the Madonna and Child Waterfall, the Labyrinth at The Edge, and the Arboretum showcasing a rich variety of plants and trees. Hogsback is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a place of artistic inspiration, with many artists and writers finding inspiration in its mystical ambiance.

Read More >>> Hogsback: The best things to do in this Fairytale Destination

Where to stay in Hogsback

Maple Grove Cottage Hogsback

In Hogsback, you’ll discover a range of accommodations, from cozy forest guesthouses and self-catering cottages with mountain views to charming bed-and-breakfasts. One I’ve personally stayed at and highly recommend is Maple Grove Cottage. Tucked away in a serene garden just a short drive from town, it provides a perfect base for exploring Hogsback, including its hiking trails and other attractions.

Read More >>> Maple Grove Cottage: A perfect stay in Hogsback

Another popular choice is the whimsical Away with the Fairies Nature Lodge and Backpackers, which offers accommodation with a garden, free private parking, a shared lounge and a restaurant.

With so many amazing destinations near East London, the City serves as an ideal starting point for unforgettable adventures. Whether you’re into history, beaches or wildlife, there’s a place for you to recharge, explore, and create lasting memories just a short drive away from the city.

Discover more things to do in and around East London


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