If Durban and Cape Town are the only places that come to mind when you think ‘holiday’, it is time to think again! A great weekend filled with fun activities is just as good as taking a #shotleft to any other beach destination.

Don’t get me wrong, eThekwini and The Mother City are great places to visit but when you take a little bit of time to explore Port Elizabeth, you’ll realise it isn’t as ‘windy’ as most people make it out to be.

It was a Tuesday when a group of friends from other media houses and I met at the South African Tourism office for a shuttle to take us to our 06h25 SAA flight to Nelson Mandela Bay. It was my first time visiting the city and I must say, if it wasn’t for shot’left, I would’ve never thought of going.

Although I knew how jam-packed our itinerary was with adventurous activities, the excitement hadn’t kicked in properly, most likely due to the early start. However, I couldn’t resist letting out the excitement after and start taking selfies as soon as we spotted our tour guide, Craig Duffield (who sadly passed away earlier in December 2016 – may his soul rest in peace) from Mosaic Tourism eagerly waiting for us with a welcome sign. It had finally sunk in that my most-anticipated four-day journey had officially begun.

Departing the Port Elizabeth International Airport, we headed straight to the launch of the Nelson Mandela Bay App and Blend of the Bay Coffee held at the Donkin Reserve. At first it felt as if I was still in Jozi. It seemed a little too much like an ordinary workday until I realised the press conference was going to be helpful during my stay.

The Nelson Mandela Bay App helps you navigate the city, while updating you on current and upcoming events within the city – this was music to my ears.

We checked in at the Protea Hotel by Marriot, and were delighted to see the exquisite views from our room before we headed off to have lunch and enjoy our activities.

Nom Nom Nom! Hmmm Yum!

What could be more delicious than the food at Nelson Mandela Bay? Absolutely nothing! No matter where you go, you’ll find something you like. Sidewalk cafés and restaurants have a similar ambience to Florida Road in Durban, Long Street in Cape Town and Melville or Parkhurst in Johannesburg. Stanley Street, the pulse of PE in Richmond Hill, bustles with fabulous eateries, cocktail and wine bars that reflect the vibrance of the beach.

What stands out about Stanley Road is that you can order food from one restaurant while sitting in another. For instance, you can order food from Angelo’s Café while at Fushin Sushi. If you’re into barbecue, head straight to the Portuguese Grill House, Cubata, where you can enjoy grilled spare ribs and prawns.

If you’re a foodie like me, you’ll never go home disappointed or hungry. The food is delicious and the meals for one are big enough to share. You definitely get more than value for your money, and the same goes for the activities.

Plunging Into The Water

Apart from just dipping yourself in the body of water, there are other tons of water activities to experience, such as surfboarding. I’ve never surfed before so the Oceanside Surf Store offered us lessons given by a professional surfer, the word ‘fun’ can’t even begin to describe this experience – I even forgot we’re amateurs. If you really fear water don’t worry, skating and riding a bike by the beachfront is just as fun. My profound love of nature was catered for when taking a two-hour boat cruise with Stampede Cruises where I’ve connected and appreciated the beauty that Algoa Bay has to offer.

If you’re still not into water adventures, a 70 metre high and a 500 metre long zipline speeding at exactly 80KM per hour and sand boarding await at the Sundays River Valley for the adrenaline junkies.

Adrenalin Addo

Situated inside Addo Elephant National Park, Adrenalin Addo is a family-friendly attraction for adventure and fun-lovers; it is also the longest zip line in Africa. If the thought of possible plunging to your instant death terrifies you, join the club!

But none of us thought of backing out after realising we had to climb up a little valley wearing our harnesses to get to the ride. This was enough exercise – bad enough even for leg day at the gym.

The ride consists of two ziplines, where two people can ride at the same time. We went two-by-two and screamed with exhileration. Within a few seconds, we had reached the other side and this was by far the most thrilling thing we had done, and we couldn’t wait to go sandboarding at the Sunday’s River Adventures.

Unfortunately, the Bay’s strong wind lived up to its reputation and we were unable to cross the river on the boat to experience the sandboarding. We were very disappointed as Craig said with a boisterous laugh, “Now you can understand why it is called the ‘windy city’!” However, all hope was not lost, as the wind didn’t stop us from having fun! We took a tour around the townships in the area to learn about the history and people, before we chilled at Dopparoz for some ‘chisanyama’ food and listened to some good local music.

Before leaving for the airport, we made a few stops along the way: monuments, galleries, the Athenaeum, Tramways Building , the GFI art gallery and our last stop St Georges Park. I felt a bit sad that we had to head back to Joburg, and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one. I’ve made it my mission to #ShareTheBay with my friends as there is something for everyone, and will definitely return to experience it all over again. I didn’t add ‘sandboarding’ to my bucket-list for nothing!

Taking a #ShotLeft in Nelson Mandela BAY

Images and Video: BM Studios & Photography