As the heading pretty much says, when the invite to a friend’s wedding arrived and it said venue: Morgan Bay on it, the first word out of my mouth was “where?”
Coming from Joburg, my family holidays were always more Durban or Limpopo-bound or for the more adventurous trips, the Western Cape, but never had I visited the Eastern Cape region before. I did learn while down there though that it is a rather popular vacation spot for Eastern Cape folk, so apparently not everyone had to go onto Google Maps to know where this sleepy town actually was.
*I also learned that after repeatedly calling it Morgans Bay for much of the trip, that it isn’t like Jefferys Bay, it’s Morgan Bay, singular. I did feel rather embarrassed about that one.
We set out on our journey in the wee hours of 21 March, having decided to drive down as flight prices were ridiculous due to the public holiday weekend. Note to self, start saving long before a trip like this so you can fly, because it’s about 9 hours without stops if you are planning on doing the drive.
Flying however brings on its own level of planning. The nearest airport is East London, and from there you will need to rent a car for another one hour+ drive to Morgan Bay. So work out your finances properly because flying from Joburg can prove costly, but its a lot quicker than the drive.
You could do a drive down as a big road trip, but besides a few small towns along the way, there wasn’t a whole lot to see. Luckily we had a group of us travelling down together so the journey was made more fun with loads of laughs, crazy music and car games.
The self-catering accommodation we stayed at, named Ocean Valley was an 8-sleeper (four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a huge entertainment area downstairs). In terms of the ocean view however, it wasn’t the best, but it did however overlook a stunning bushveld.
Immediately you will notice the clean air, the lack of traffic and overall Joburg hustle and bustle non-existent. Luckily for our 4×4 navigating on the roads was a bit easier than it would have been in my little car on those sand roads. The N4 is pretty much all the tar on the roads you are going to see.
You will also notice that there are a lot of big houses around, but very few of them look occupied. A vast number of them are purely holiday houses. Which when you start searching for accommodation online you will easily find options aplenty, especially out of season.
Things to do… that also involve putting food in your belly
After putting our bags down we jumped back into the car and headed out to explore and to get food. We literally listened to 30 seconds of a song and had arrived at the town’s main street, which consists of the Morgan Bay Hotel (the wedding venue), and The Tides. All in one building I might add, but at least we knew we could eat, have a massage/facial if we wanted to and buy a bucket and spade with the money from an ATM, priorities sorted :).
In terms of actual make-it-yourself food supplies, that we however had to venture 8kms away to find in a town called Kei Mouth. I smiled a little at their use of the word “supermarket” though as when you walk into the one of three they have, it’s more like your local corner cafe. You will literally get your basics. So if you don’t use Head and Shoulders or eat white bread, use anything but Ponds or prefer Baby Soft toilet paper, then you won’t survive. The “supermarkets” only have the essentials, and we were only there for a long weekend so we weren’t too concerned. But a longer trip would have definitely called for bringing some of our own supplies.
On the morning of our friend’s wedding (22 March), we took a drive around and stumbled across the Local Farmers Market at the YellowWood Forest. From pancakes, cupcakes and rusks, to jewellery and clothing, we wondered around for sometime and found lots of little trinkets. And by ‘we‘ I mean the girls, the guys we knew would have been bored out of the minds, and instead opted to play beach touch rugby with the soon-to-be-groom instead.
We did however persuade the lads to come back the next day, sans the market for some lunch, and much to their dismay, the menu of pizza’s which we had been told are really good, were all vegetarian. Alas, we left and drove through to Kei Mouth again and had lunch at the Selections Coffee shop next to what turned out to be quite the happening pub, the Fisherman’s Den.
As for any newly engaged couples looking at venues, the photo ops you will get from this scenic venue will turn out amazing for sure, but in all honesty the venue and the grounds of the ceremony for guests, are nothing that we can’t experience in good ‘ol Muldersdrift or other venues here in Joburg, or a lot closer to home if you are coming from other parts of South Africa.
From the road trip there and back with the mates in the car, to the fun wedding we attended, and the partying we did at spots we originally didn’t think we could have one at, the trip turned out better than I had originally thought after first arriving there and thinking “where on earth are we?“.
There really is not a whole lot to do or see, and to be honest, venturing all the way from Joburg is far. A plan for future road tripping is to use Morgan Bay as a base and then work our way to Port Elizabeth, then on to Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and finish off at George.
I do see the attractiveness for folk who live close to or in areas like East London and Port Elizabeth – It’s a short trip where if you are looking for a relaxing, unplanned, completely zoned-out vacation, that especially kids, can roam around in a safer environment than in the bigger cities, Morgan Bay is the place to be.
Highlights of the trip: I caught up on a lot of sleep, partied like a rock star at the picture perfect wedding, finished reading my first novel for the year, and actually swam in the ocean… and as someone with slight OCD issues, I’m not a fan of beach sand, so this was a big deal for me.
Had you heard about Morgan Bay before? Ever been there? What are your thoughts on the little town?