St Croix Island Marine Reserve, located in the Algoa Bay off the coast of Port Elizabeth, is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike. The reserve is made up of three islands – St Croix, Jahleel, and Brenton Rock – and is part of the larger Bird Island group, which collectively covers an area of 40 hectares.
The islands, which are quartzitic outcrops of the Table Mountain Group, are home to the largest breeding colony of African penguins on the planet, with an estimated population of 22,000. But the reserve isn’t just about penguins – visitors can also spot Cape fur seals, sharks, dolphins, and a variety of seabird life, including Cape gannets, white-breasted cormorants, African black oystercatchers, and rock pigeons.
The St Croix group and a 300-meter maritime zone around each island were designated as a marine reserve in 1981 as part of the Woody Cape Nature Reserve. The reserve was later incorporated into the Addo National Elephant Park, which now boasts the “big seven” (elephants, lions, rhinos, buffaloes, leopards, southern right whales, and great white sharks) as a result.
In addition to the natural beauty and wildlife of the St Croix Island Marine Reserve, and the cultural experiences provided by the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, there are also many other activities and attractions available in the area for visitors to enjoy. One of these is a stroll through Victoria Park.
Victoria Park is a tranquil oasis located in South End, along Victoria Park Drive, next to the Victoria Park Primary and High Schools. The park offers beautiful landscaped gardens, attractive water-lily ponds with quaint stone bridges, a thatched gazebo where one can linger to enjoy the solitude, as well as a large pleasant lawn area with shaded trees, ideal for picnicking.
Victoria Park is also a favorite bird-watching site, and visitors can enjoy observing a wide variety of birds in their natural habitat. With its peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty, Victoria Park is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring the St Croix Island Marine Reserve and the surrounding area.
In conclusion, St Croix Island Marine Reserve offers a wide variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring the natural beauty of the islands, experiencing the smooth sounds of classical music, or simply relaxing in a tranquil park, there is something for everyone at St Croix Island Marine Reserve. The park is a perfect place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring the reserve, and with its beautiful landscaped gardens, and bird watching site, it’s a must-see destination for nature and bird watching enthusiasts.
However, the reserve is not without its challenges. Conservationists have raised concerns about the threat to the island’s wildlife, particularly from the nearby Ngqura deep water port. Visitors are not encouraged to visit the islands, but there are charter boats available for penguin viewing, and the seas around St Croix are considered excellent dive sites.
Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra
In addition to the natural beauty and wildlife, St Croix Island Marine Reserve also offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. One of the most popular is the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs at the stunning Feather Market Centre.
The Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra is a part-time orchestra comprising local music professionals and amateur musicians from various professional disciplines and occupations. They present up to 14 full-scale orchestral concerts annually, ranging from family-oriented open-air park concerts and youth concerto festivals to symphony concerts with massed choirs.
The orchestra also presents and organizes ensemble concerts and popular music concerts, including wind bands, string ensembles, jazz groups, chamber groups, and full-scale symphonic pops concerts. This is a great opportunity for music lovers to experience the smooth sounds of classical music in a unique setting.
Visitors to the St Croix Island Marine Reserve can also take advantage of the many other activities and attractions available in the area. These include diving, snorkeling, hiking, and bird watching. There are also several charter boats available for penguin viewing, which is one of the most popular activities on the islands.
The St Croix Island Marine Reserve offers a unique blend of natural beauty, wildlife and cultural experiences. With its beautiful beaches, penguins, seals, shark and dolphins, it is a perfect destination for nature enthusiasts. The Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, which presents various concerts, is a great way to enjoy the smooth sounds of classical music in a unique setting. There are also many other activities and attractions available in the area, making it a perfect destination for all types of visitors.