- Port St Johns
Port St Johns lies almost exactly halfway between East London and Durban, where the Mzimvubu River reaches the sea between Mount Thesiger and Mount Sullivan, in a magnificent setting of tremendous cliffs and sub-tropical forest.
The twin mountains, the Thesiger and Sullivan, lying on either side of the River like bastions, are regarded as the gates of Port St Johns. The landscape is dramatic and the beauty indescribably with three superb beaches, several rocky headlands, clear lagoons, plunging waterfalls, excellent boating up the river which is navigable for 10 km and many paths leading through the forest to beauty spots.
Port St Johns is a drowsy, easy-going sort of place which has escaped industrial development therefore offering holiday makers a unique and peaceful stay and few people visit the seaside village without being captivated. Despite all this though, the town is not overcrowded with tourists however, it does seem to draw out the hippies, eccentrics and backpackers.
Port St Johns also offers a unique blend of cultural richness, both traditional and modern, from Sangoma’s (traditional healers) strolling the streets to kwaito music and mini-bus taxis. Some colonial history is also evident in buildings in the town.
Accommodation varies from backpackers and self-catering cottages to Guesthouses, Retreats and River Lodges.
Things to do and see
- First Beach
- Second Beach
- Mtentu Beach
- Poenskop Beach
- Cape Hermes Lighthouse
- M’Bashe Lighthouse
- Umzimbuvu Retreat
- Cultural Experience Hike
- Ferry Point to Long Beach & Agate Terrace Hike
- Forest Walk Hike
- Port St Johns to Coffee Bay Hike
- The Gap & Blow Hole
- Port St Johns Golf Course
Port St Johns receives approximately 990 mm of rain annually with most rainfall occurring during the summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 19˚C and 27˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 10˚C and 21˚C.
There are daily flights into East London Airport approximately 327 Km’s away along the N2 and R61 and into the King Shaka’s International Airport approximately 362 Km’s away along the same roads from the opposite direction. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
The port was named after the Portuguese ship, Sao Joao (St John), which was wrecked a little further up the coast in 1552. Some however, prefer the theory that the name came from the rock formation east of the Umzimvubu that reminded ancient mariners of St John the Baptist, only the very imaginative can see his profile on the cliff face, or that a Portuguese ship passed the river on St John's Day, 24th June.
Long before Port St Johns was established as a town or port, the area was cultivated with vegetables, grown to re-stock the navy ships and fresh water was also taken on board here.
The town was established in the 1880’s after negotiations with the local Pondo Chiefs for rights to the banks of the river and adjacent territories. The British maintained a garrison at Port St Johns during the scramble for Africa and coasters were still using the port right up to 1940’s. The last vessel to dock at Port St Johns did so in the 1944, after which the river shallowed to such an extent as to make passage impossible.
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