Southern Cross Boat Cruises East London
DESTINATIONS,  East London,  Eastern Cape

21 Things to do in East London, South Africa

Nestled along South Africa’s picturesque Eastern Cape coastline, East London is a city that often flies under the radar when it comes to things to do. But East London is full of surprises. With its beautiful beaches, warm weather, and variety of attractions, thereโ€™s more to discover here than you might expect. Plus, being close to the scenic Wild Coast makes it a great starting point for exploring this amazing region. In this blog post, I’ll show why East London is an underrated destination filled with plenty of fun things to do.

1. Hit the beaches

Nahoon Beach East London
Nahoon Beach, East London

Given its coastal location, this is probably the most popular thing to do in East London. And for very good reason. Whether you’re looking to catch some waves, soak up the sun, or simply take a leisurely stroll along the shore, East London has some of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa. Popular spots include Nahoon Beach, renowned for its excellent surfing conditions, and Gonubie Beach, with its scenic beauty and family-friendly atmosphere.

2. Go dolphin/whale watching

As the only East London boat based permit holders forย Whale & Dolphin watching, Southern Cross Boating offer a variety of Ocean and river Cruises in East London, for all ages. The vessels areย fully equipped with life jacketsย (includingย life jackets for dogs). Wait…what? Dogs? Yes! The cruises are dog-friendly, provided you get permission beforehand. Cruises depart from Latimer’s Landing [GPS PIN], located within the Port of East London.

  • Cost: Cruise prices vary considerably between group and private charters, as well as the type of cruise. It’s best to see a full list of prices through their website here.
  • Contact Information: Telephone: +27(0)73 257 2319, Mobile: +27(0)73 257 2319 |
  • Address: 25 Pontoon Road Latimers Landing East London Harbour

3. Brush up on your history at the East London Museum

East London Museum

Established in 1921, the East London Museum showcases the natural and cultural history of East London and its surroundings through a variety of exhibits. These include a complete southern right whale skeleton, exhibitions on coastal fauna, shipwreck history, life sciences, and an array of artifacts representing the region’s cultural heritage, among other attractions. The museum is also notable for holding a type specimen of the coelacanth, a fish previously believed to be long extinct. Here you’ll also learn about a very important East Londoner – The celebrated naturalist Dr Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, the discoverer of the Coelacanth and curator of the East London Museum.

  • Cost: Adults: R30.00, Children (5-12yo): R20.00, Pensioners: R25.00, School tour: R20.00pp [Prices valid from 01 April 2024]
  • Museum hours: Mon-Fri 9.00am-4.00pm | Sat -9.00am-1.00pm | Closed Sunday & Public Holiday
  • Contact Information: Telephone +27(0)43 743 0686 |
  • Address: 319 Oxford Street(Entrance from Dawson Road), Southernwood, East London [GPS PIN]

4. Indulge in a designer picnic

Brite Designs Picnics in East London

Picture this: You’re in a beautiful garden, having a picnic made just for you and your favorite people. Whether you’re planning to propose, celebrate a big day, or just hang out with friends and family, a Brite Designs Picnic is something special to do in East London. When you reserve a Designer Picnic, you have the entire garden all to yourselves. Each picnic setup is beautifully and uniquely arranged, and you can even customize it with various themes or menu choices.

  • Cost: Fr. R1570 for 2 to R7040 for 14 people
  • Contact Information: +27 72 118 5558 |
  • Address: Vincent, East London (you’ll get the full address after making a booking)

5. Get singing and dancing at live music events

Table 58 music

East London is buzzing with musical talent, from budding artists to seasoned performers, all contributing to its dynamic music scene. Local musicians often take the stage at various venues across the city, showcasing their passion and creativity. Some of the best spots to catch live music events are The Deck Hotel, Table 58 and Bay Collective.

6. Visit the iconic Windmill Roadhouse

The Windmill East London things to do

The Windmill is One of East London’s oldest and most loved road houses, known for its delicious burgers, pizza, fries, toasties and milkshakes! For East London folks, the Windmill is a little slice of Nostalgia that brings back wonderful memories of days gone by.

  • Opening times: Mon-Thurs 7am-10.45pm, Friday-Sat 7am-11:45pm, Sunday 7am-9.45pm
  • Contact Information: +27 43 722 9208
  • Address: 128 Moore St, Quigney, East London, 5201 [GPS PIN]

7. Participate in a cooking demonstration class

Evolve East London
Cooking Demonstration at Evolve, East London

Chef Anna’s Table at Evolve is a recent addition of things to do in East London. Her cooking demonstrations, alongside a Guest Chef, are a fun way to learn about worldwide cuisine in a relaxed and social environment. Anna also offers workshops and team building activities, so if you’re a big foodie then this venue is definitely for you.

  • Cost: R450pp
  • Contact Information: +27 72 930 8653 |
  • Address: 1 Dawson Road, Selborne, East London (next to the East London Museum) [GPS PIN]

8. Get up close and personal with snakes

Python Park East London

Python Park (now called the Venom Pit Snake Park) has been a beloved spot in East London’s entertainment scene for years. It’s a fun place for the whole family to visit, particularly for its many different snake species. The manager, Francois, is super nice and knows a ton about the animals. And there are also two crocodiles, bearded dragons, monitor lizards and a very small touch farm to check out!

  • Cost: Adults R75, Children 12 and under R45, Pensioners R45
  • Opening Times: Monday, Tuesday CLOSED | Wed-Fri 10am-4pm | Sunday & Public Holidays 9am-4pm [On Saturdays and Sundays between 11 and 2pm live demonstrations can be arranged]
  • Contact Information: +27 74 915 5003 |
  • Address: N6 Road to Stutterheim, East London [GPS PIN]

9. Enjoy family fun Golf

Caddy Shack East London

The 9 hole Python Park Mashie Golf Course is just a 5 minute walk from the Snake Park and it’s one of East London’s Hidden Gems. There’s a restaurant overlooking the Golf Course, serving up delicious food, with an awesome vibe and friendly service. For a round of Golf, pop your money in an honesty box, grab your golf clubs and off you go! This is a really fun thing to do in East London for the whole family.

  • Cost: Adults R80, Kids Under 12 R40, Pensioners R60 (Honesty Box – Cash only)
  • Opening Times: Monday, Tuesday CLOSED | Wed, Friday, Sat 8am-10pm | Thursday, Sunday 8am-5pm
  • Contact Information: +27 82 553 0347 |
  • Address: N6 Road to Stutterheim, East London [GPS PIN]

10. Have one of East London’s most nostalgic milkshakes

friesland milkshake

A trip to East London isn’t complete without a visit to Friesland Milk Bar, a cherished local spot. Arguably the ‘best milkshakes in the world’, it’s definitely more about the Nostalgic attachment to them for me. Many Former East Londoners still make the pilgrimage back to the original store for the memories, often taking frozen bottles home. Though times have changed, enjoying a Friesland milkshake remains an iconic East London tradition.

  • Cost: R35-R55
  • Opening Times: Mon-Sun 09am-5pm
  • Contact Information: +27 43 722 3260 |
  • Address: 49 Tennyson St, Quigney, East London, 5201 [GPS PIN]

11. Get adventurous with hiking and kayaking

kayaking east london

Uncuthu Tours provides kayaking and hiking experiences in Mdantsane, an urban township located approximately 15km from East London. Led by Siseko Yelani, a passionate and highly informed guide, these tours offer an opportunity to discover a lesser-known aspect of East London. As you walk towards the dam, you’ll cross a scenic trail cutting through the bush, leading to a breathtaking viewpoint overlooking Bridal Drift Dam. Along the way, Siseko will tell you all about the different plant uses in the area, including their traditional and medicinal value. Then, you’ll hop in kayaks and explore the dam. It’s a fun way to see the area!

  • Cost: From R100
  • Contact Information: +27 73 184 9617 |
  • Address: 3304 NU 7, Mdantsane, 5219, East London

12. Spend a day in Gonubie

Gonubie East London

Although a suburb by definition, Gonubie has somewhat become its only little town with a close-knit community. Because it is relatively secluded from the rest of East London, though, Gonubie has kept its laid-back coastal vibe. Relax on Gonubie Beach, famous for its soft sand and great swimming beach, or enjoy a walk along the boardwalk to soak in the beautiful ocean views. Bird lovers can check out the Gonubie Mouth Bird Sanctuary or go for a walk to Gonubie Point for some amazing scenery.


13. Play Mini Golf (putt-putt)

putt putt in East London

The only Mini Golf (or, putt-putt) in town is next to Thornwood Valley Restaurant in Beacon Bay. For only R30pp, the 18 hole golf course is a fun way to spend a morning or afternoon. While you’re there, you can grab a drink from the restaurant and sip it while you play. And if you work up an appetite, you can enjoy some great American-style BBQ food at the restaurant afterward.

  • Cost: R30 (cash or card accepted)
  • Opening Times: Mon-Sat 09:30am-9:30pm, Sun 9:30am-6pm
  • Contact Information: +27 72 671 3409
  • Address: Beacon Bay Crossing, Bonza Bay Road, Beacon Bay North [GPS PIN]

14. Explore Nahoon Point Nature Reserve

Nahoon Point Nature Reserve

Established in 2004, Nahoon Point Nature Reserve has over 2 kilometers of beautiful coastline and raised walkways with stunning ocean views. Its diverse landscape includes coastal sandstone, sandy beaches, coastal forests, rocky shores, and tranquil coves. The Nahoon area is of particular paleoanthropological importance owing to the discovery of fossilized footprints in a nearby cave in 1964. The footprints were later confirmed by the East London Museum to be around 124,000 years old, making them the oldest human footprints of their kind in existence. The cave’s roof has collapsed since then, but the rocky slab containing these prints, perfectly preserved, is now exhibited at the East London museum. Besides its historical significance, people come here for walks, birdwatching, and surfing.

  • Contact: +43 735 5015 |

15. Visit the small museum at the MBSA Center

MBSA visitors and education center

The MBSA Coastal Education and Visitors Center is in Nahoon Point Nature Reserve, adjacent to the popular Reef Cafe. The museum features three small exhibitions,, including a replica slab of the famous footprint discovery in the region.

  • Address: Nahoon Point Nature Reserve, Nahoon [GPS PIN]

16. Eat at East London’s only fresh fish market

sea spirit fish market

Arguably East London’s best spot for fish and slap chips, the Sea Spirit Fish market is a laid back eating establishment near the Harbor. The fish here is as fresh as it gets, with local fishermen bringing in catches daily. The menu is fish, calamari, prawns…or…fish & chips! (They do also have a chip burger and regular hamburger, although most people come here for the fish, of course). The views are fantastic, the vibe excellent, the staff friendly and the food delicious. What more could you want?

  • Opening Times: Mon-Sat 9am-4:30pm, Sun 9am-4pm
  • Contact Information: +27 43 722 7146 |
  • Address: Old Power Boat Club, East Bank of Buffalo River, East London [GPS PIN]

17. Ride E-scooters along the beachfront

things to do in east london

Here’s a fun way to explore East London’s Esplanade – on e-scooters. It’s fun, family-friendly and affordable.

  • Cost: R150pp (30min) | R250 (1 hour) | R350 (Guided Heritage Tour)
  • Opening Times: Thurs, Friday, Saturday 9am-5pm
  • Contact Information: +27 73 184 9617 |
  • Address: East London Esplande (newly developed Babby Lee Jegels Recreational Park)

18. Shopping & Entertainment at Hemingways Mall

Hemingways Mall is the biggest shopping center in East London, with a range of retail outlets that include clothing shops, jewellery stores, stationers, audio visual equipment, electronics, music, home dรฉcor, restaurants and coffee shops. At Hemmingways, you’ll also find a movie theater and a Casino, adding rainy day entertainment to a list of things to do in East London.

  • Contact Information:
  • Address: Cnr Western Bypass and Hemingways Casino, Two Rivers Dr. Cambridge Village, East London [GPS PIN]

19. Grab a pie at Wagon Wheel

Wagon Wheel Pie East London

Looking for one of the best pies in East London? Then you need to head on over to Wagon Wheel. Perfect flaky goodness, with a choice of filling from chicken, steak, lamb & mint, curry, spinach & feta, and more. The Farm Stall and small deli also sells home baked goods like jams, rusks and biscuits, and cheese, milk and butter.

  • Cost of Pies: Avg. R35
  • Opening Times:
  • Contact Information: +27 83 718 0191 |
  • Address: Farm B30 , N6, Thornpark, East London [GPS PIN]

20. Sundowners at Blue Lagoon Hotel

Blue Lagoon Hotel East London

The beautiful Highlander bar at Blue Lagoon Hotel is the perfect spot to enjoy a drink while watching the sun set over the Nahoon River. There’s also an attached restaurant if you’re feeling hungry.

  • Contact Information: +27 43 748 4821
  • Address: Blue Bend Place, Beacon Bay, Beacon Bay, East London [GPS PIN]

21. Explore the Wild Coast

Haga-Haga Coastline

East London enjoys a prime location as the perfect starting point for exploring the unparalleled beauty of the Wild Coast. Many of its iconic destinations are just an hour’s drive from the city center, offering endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Unwind with some drinks and scenic hikes at Emerald Vale Brewery, or enjoy wildlife safaris at nearby reserves like Inkwenkwezi, with fantastic animal sightings and accommodation options. Seeking thrills? Try ziplining at Areena. For ultimate relaxation, indulge in spa treatments at Prana Lodge or Crawford Cabins. Chintsa is another beautiful region, with a gorgeous beach and friendly community. Don’t miss out on the scenic hiking trails along Haga-Haga’s coastline and the Morgan Bay cliffs. And of course, the Wild Coast’s beaches are unrivaled, with vast stretches of sand extending for miles. It’s no wonder they call it the Wild Coast!

In short, East London is a city full of exciting things to do and see. Whether you’re taking in the coastal beauty, hiking, or exploring the beautiful Wild Coast nearby, there’s something for everyone. So come and experience the fun and beauty of East London for yourself!

Looking for more things to do in and around East London?

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