Port Elizabeth, cordially referred to as “The Bay”, is one of the largest cities in South Africa. It is located east of Cape Town. The city stretches for 16 km along Algoa Bay, and is one of the major seaports in the country. There are many parks, nature reserves and beaches to escape to, here are ten of the best for a family picnic.
1. St. George’s Park
Established in 1859, this is the oldest park in Port Elizabeth. It has many prominent features including St. George’s Oval cricket grounds, the Port Elizabeth Bowling Green Club (the oldest lawn bowling club in South Africa), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, St. George’s Park Swimming Baths, Master Harold tearoom, Prince Alfred’s Guard Memorial, Pearson Conservatory and Port Elizabeth Cenotaph. The Mannville Open Air Theatre is also part of the annual Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival. Whether you’re looking to relax and enjoy your picnic, or get active, there is plenty to see and do at this vibrant park.
2. Sardinia Bay
This stunning beach is a hidden gem, equipped with picnic facilities and miles of unspoilt coastline. Sardinia Bay is also the starting point of the very popular Sacramento hiking trail. It’s not as easily accessible as some of the other beaches, but well worth the effort. Sardinia Bay is one of the best walking beaches in the city, and one of the least busy, just lay a blanket and enjoy the view.
3. Cape Recife Nature Reserve
366 ha of unspoilt beauty, the Cape Recife Nature Reserve is worth the hype. There is a short hike to make before settling down for picnic snacks on the vast beach. Not only does the reserve offer some of the best beaches and views in Port Elizabeth, but it also has natural dune vegetation, rocky outcrops, a lighthouse (built in 1851), an old military observation post and a bird hide. The Cape Recife Nature Reserve is regarded as one of the best bird watching areas in the city. Vehicles pay an entrance fee, however visitors by foot and non-motorised transport are free.
4. Donkin Reserve
The Donkin Reserve forms part of Route 67 and the Donkin Heritage Trail, and is an ideal picnic spot. The artworks of Route 67 incorporate 67 pieces of art that symbolize the 67 years dedicated to the struggle for freedom. The reserve is a place of unity for South Africans, who come together under the huge South African Flag. Also on the grounds is a playground, skate park, cycle paths, a stunning lake, palm-lined walkways and benches. On the Stone Pyramid Monument there is an inscription by Sir Rufane Donkin in memory of his wife, Elizabeth, who the city was named. The Lighthouse, built in 1861, also houses Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism information centre.
5. Settler’s Park
Settler’s Park is a dynamic picnic venue. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Port Elizabeth, next to a residential neighbourhood. The park itself however, offers quiet tranquility as it is blanketed in lush vegetation. The Baakens River runs through the entire course of the park, making it a particularly lush area that is home to a number of beautiful bird species, as well as a huge array of vegetation. Enjoy a peaceful picnic. floral species here mean that the Settler’s Park is the habitat of choice for a number of bird and animal species. The park is famous for its large population of peacocks and hens, and you can often hear their call echoing through the valley. There are also a number of small antelope, tortoises, mongoose and rabbits that call Settler’s Park home. The flower display house gives keen botanists the opportunity to learn more about local vegetation, while the river and rock pools are refreshing places at which to rest and enjoy the sounds and smells of the countryside. There are various walking and hiking trails through Settler’s Park, of varying difficulty. Other attractions include, the scale model of the 1820 Settlers’ Statue that is in Grahamstown, the Flower Display House and Anglo-Boer war trenches.
6. The Island Nature Reserve
Beneath this massive forested area, there are numerous trails, picnic areas and braai sites. The most famous being the Bushbuck hiking trail. The Island Nature Reserve is located just outside of Port Elizabeth, and is comprised of a whopping 480 ha of indigenous Alexandria coastal forest. There are plenty of tree species such as Outeniqua yellow-wood, white and hard pear and white milkwood.
7. Van Staden’s Wild Flower Reserve
Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve is a 500 ha “floral wonderland”. The primary purpose of the Reserve is to protect the unique indigenous flora. There are walking and biking trails, water dams and several picnic and braai sites. Pack a lunch and relax while enjoying the majesty of the natural environment. Take in the spectacular views of the mountains, gorge and Van Stadens bridge. There is also an Arboretum on the reserve, with a bird hide. You may even be lucky enough to spot some of the small animals and birds who call this beautiful place their home.
8. Maitlands Nature Reserve
The 250 ha Maitland Nature Reserve is made of dense indigenous coastal forest and the famous Maitland sand dunes. There are three trails on the reserve, a variety of small animals and an abundance of birdlife. You can even see the ocean from varying vantage points, and catch a glimpse of whales. The popular old wagon road trail twists and turns through the reserve leading to the Maitland lead mines. Years ago, this wagon trail was used to access the former lead mines situated on nearby properties. There are plenty of areas to set up a picnic in this vast nature reserve.
9. Addo Elephant National Park
An experience like no other. Addo Elephant National Park is a wildlife conservation park, and 1/19 South African national parks. Addo Elephant Back Safari Lodge excursions offer guests the opportunity to picnic alongside elephants. There is nothing quite like a picnic overlooking the waterhole at rest camp. This is true bush picnic.
10. Your Own Backyard
What better place to host a family picnic than in the comfort of your own home? You don’t need to go far to find a peaceful retreat, or outdoor space to relax and enjoy the fresh air. Your backyard can be transformed into the perfect picnic area with a little help from Easigrass. Artificial grass is the perfect alternative to create a lasting green space for your home. Contact us for a free quote