Nestled in the coastal suburb of Seaview, just outside of the bustling city of Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay, lies the secluded Island Nature Reserve. Surrounded by smallholdings and farms, the reserve offers a peaceful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Established in 1986 by local conservation organizations, the Island Nature Reserve is dedicated to protecting the natural wealth of the area. Nature wardens control entrance to the reserve to ensure the safety of both visitors and the reserve itself.
The reserve features a central grassy area with braai spots and picnic areas, perfect for families and friends to enjoy the fresh Eastern Cape air and sunshine while playing games like Frisbee or football.
The Island Nature Reserve offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. One of the highlights is the Barnacles Restaurant, located on the first sand dune overlooking the rugged and unspoilt coast of Seaview in Port Elizabeth. The restaurant boasts a deck that has been constructed to float, allowing for an unobstructed view of the ocean.
This stretch of ocean is known for its whale sightings between August and December, as well as dolphins that can be seen all year round. Visitors can enjoy a meal at Barnacles, which serves great red meat and seafood dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The restaurant is a perfect spot for a cocktail at sunset, offering a friendly and laid-back atmosphere with good attentive service.
The Island Nature Reserve also offers a variety of hiking trails through its dense indigenous Alexandria coastal forest, as well as braai spots and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy. The reserve is also home to a variety of animal species including playful monkeys, elusive blue duiker, bushbuck, and bushpig and a bird-watcher’s delight, with a variety of species such as the olive woodpecker, Knysna Loerie, olive bush shrike, forest canary, blue-mantled crested flycatcher, and the forest buzzard.
The Island Nature Reserve offers a peaceful and tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, with a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy.
For those interested in hiking, the reserve offers a variety of pathways and trails through its dense indigenous Alexandria coastal forest. The longest trail, the Bushbuck Hiking Trail, is a 16 kilometer circular walk with a lookout offering views of the Indian Ocean and surrounding mountains. Other trails range from 1.5 kilometers to shorter distances. Common trees found in the forest include the white milkwood, cheesewood, Outeniqua yellowwood, and Cape chestnut, which provide a natural habitat for a variety of animal species.
Visitors may spot playful monkeys hanging in the trees or running through the picnic areas, displaying their mischievous nature. Other wildlife species found in the reserve include the elusive blue duiker, bushbuck, and bushpig. The reserve is also a bird-watcher’s delight, with a variety of species such as the olive woodpecker, Knysna Loerie, olive bush shrike, forest canary, blue-mantled crested flycatcher, and the forest buzzard.
The Island Nature Reserve also offers visitors the opportunity to explore the beautiful Maitland Beach, known by locals as simply “Maitlands.” This exquisite beach is known for its expansive stretches of white sand and enormous sand dunes, making it a popular spot for sandboarding and tobogganing for both young and old.
Located at the mouth of the Maitland River, the beach extends from just outside Beachview to beyond Bluewater Bay. Visitors can also spot horses galloping with their riders on this stretch of coast, as well as people taking a relaxing walk or collecting mussels. However, the waters at Maitland Beach can be wild, making it not the best spot for swimming.
The Island Nature Reserve is a great destination for those who want to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Eastern Cape, with a wide range of activities and attractions that are sure to delight visitors of all ages. From hiking through the dense indigenous Alexandria coastal forest, enjoying a meal at Barnacles Restaurant, and exploring the natural beauty of Maitland Beach, there’s something for everyone at the Island Nature Reserve.
Seaview Predator Park
The Island Nature Reserve is also home to the Seaview Predator Park, one of Port Elizabeth’s most popular attractions. The park combines a variety of things to see and do, making it a must-visit destination for visitors. It is located in the suburb of Seaview, just a 30-minute drive from the airport and beaches that the city is known for.
The Seaview Predator Park is home to a variety of wild cats including lions, tigers, cheetahs, and panthers, as well as zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, lynx, warthogs, and other antelope species. The predator enclosures are spacious and surrounded by unobtrusive electric fencing, allowing visitors to get as close as possible to the animals without posing a threat to them or vice versa. The herbivores in the park roam freely and self-drive tours can be conducted. There is also a coffee shop and restaurant at the park, which is licensed and offers a menu that appeals to both children and adults. The views of the park or ocean from the restaurant are absolutely gorgeous. There is also a barbecue and picnic area, which is conveniently located close to the predator enclosures, for a true African experience.
Seaview is a green and leafy suburb, but it is also located along the wild side of the PE coastline, giving visitors a fantastic idea of the Eastern Cape coastal scrub and the animals that call it home. Visitors can also keep an eye out for playful schools of dolphins that frequent the shore, and between August and December, whales are also often spotted in this part of the Indian Ocean, making for a memorable experience. The Seaview Predator Park offers a unique and exciting experience in the Island Nature Reserve, where visitors can get up close with wild animals and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
St Georges Park Cricket Grounds
The Island Nature Reserve also offers visitors the opportunity to explore the historic St. George’s Park Cricket Ground, the oldest park in Port Elizabeth and the site of the second oldest cricket club in the country. Located in the heart of Port Elizabeth, it is a tribute to the past and present, just moments away from the noise of the city.
In addition to the cricket ground, St. George’s Park features the St. George’s Park Swimming Baths, which include an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a diving board and a children’s pool. During hot spells, the swimming baths make for an interesting diversion away from the beaches of Port Elizabeth. The park is also a popular spot for picnics, with visitors often bringing umbrellas, baskets, and chairs to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The Mannville Open Air Theatre and art galleries located within the park also add an artistic dimension that makes it an attractive destination for visitors.
The park is also home to the famous “Master Harold” tearoom, which served as the setting for Athol Fugard’s play “Master Harold and the Boys.” The tearoom, which is part of the swimming pool complex, has lost much of its former quaintness to modernization, but it is interesting to note that Athol Fugard’s mother ran the tearoom for almost 30 years and that a lot of the play is based on fact. The park also houses the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, which used to be called the King George VI Art Gallery. The museum’s collections are housed in two buildings that frame the entrance to the park, with a constant rotation of art on display. Researchers can also apply to see works not on exhibition.
St. George’s Park Cricket Ground offers visitors a chance to explore the historic cricket ground, enjoy a swim in the Olympic-sized pool, and appreciate the artistic and cultural offerings of the park, including the Mannville Open Air Theatre, art galleries, and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum.
The Island Nature Reserve also offers an ablution block for visitors and has an entrance fee (per person) which ensures safety and superior conditions. Come and experience the peace and beauty of the Eastern Cape at the Island Nature Reserve.