What to do in St Francis and surrounds in the holidays

 By Bev Mortimer

There is a wide variety of things to do in St Francis over the holidays. When  the weather is miz there are plenty of fun activities lined up daily – from social happenings to sports events to enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

penguin chicks

We are sure that out of all of the forthcoming events and things to do, listed below, visitors and locals will find something that suits them perfectly.

* Visit the penguin sanctuary, Sanccob: Cape St Francis has one of the few penguin rehabilitation centres on the continent and is certainly becoming most renown. Visit the centre at the lighthouse and learn how penguins are saved from starvation, nursed back to health when unwell or injured, fed and then released into the Indian Ocean. And you may just be fortunate this holiday to watch them being fed at feeding times or even better, watching these cute sea birds being released back into the Indian Ocean.

* Visit the Cape St Francis lighthouse… a magnicient historial  building and a national munument. Unfortunately no guided tours are currently available.

* Trips up the Kromme River or along the canals: Pack a picnic basket and take the whole family for a leisurely trip around the canals and a half day trip or full day trip up the river in a boat or gondola.  Spot the aquatic birds, dabble at fishing and then stretch your legs at Geelhout pit stop where there are braai facilities as well. If you don’t own a boat,  take a river cruise or hire a gondola (seat 4 pax)  from Litle Venice Adventures (office at Spar shopping centre) and explore the waterways.

* Magnificent sunset watching on the rocks: On a clear, warm evening, pack a picnic basket and head to the wild side at Cape St Francis at about 5 pm. Then watch the sun slowly sinking into the sea while creating a stupendous kaleidoscope of colours in the sky and turning itself into a blood red fireball as it disappears from view.

* Picnics at the Cove: This is an ideal, safe spot for the families to have a picnic… plenty of pools for the little ones to splash in. There are braai facilities and what’s more this cove is sheltered from the windy blasts that hit the main beaches sometimes.

* Visit the Heritage Centre at the bottom of Harbour Road, St Francis’ own little museum. If you want information on things like the current state of the beach, indigenous vegetation, birds, fish, shells, whales & dolphins, the penguin rehabilitation project at the lighthouse, walking trails, the chokka industry, the history of St Francis Bay, aerial photographs of the development of the area, future planning proposals, including the Spatial Development Framework, the proposed nuclear power station, and proposed windfarms, the state of the Kromme and Sand Rivers, etc., etc., then this is the place to find out.

* Community Garden: Also at the bottom of Harbour Road is the most delightful indigenous garden. The community garden has an impressive range of indigenous vegetation as is well worth a visit to enjoy the seasonal flowers and shrubs.

Two Harbours Walk: From the community garden one can take a delightful walk to the Port and back. The meandering route takes you through indigenous bush and along the coastline with beautiful views. There are resting places along the way. Parts of the walk damaged in last year’s flood  have now been fully repaired so one no longer has to use circumventing paths.

* Visit Port St Francis: Walk right to the harbour entrance along the wall and see the gulls and gannets… visit the new Sustianable Seas Sea centre and learn bout sharks and other marine animals, or take in the bustling fishing industry and the chokka boats in port.

* Irma Booysen Flora Reserve. The Reeserve lies within 200m of the Cape St. Francis Resort. A walk through the reserve is a must-do for all lovers of fynbos. Maps and plant guides are available at the Resort’s reception office.

* Kromme River and Estuary walks . Access is from Shore Road. At low tide the estuary offers beautiful, firm and clean sand, which allows for an extended walk out to the river. Long or short walk, depends upon how long you wish to spend on the sand bank. Wide variety of water birds and waders to enjoy on any part of the Kromme River.

* Look-Out Point: Drive down St Francis Drive towards the Port, pass the turnoff to the Harbour and a little bit further on there is a pathway on the left to a look-out point. A short paved path leads up to a view spot with benches. Ideal for a picnic. Amazing views stretch from the Seal Point Lighthouse to the Groot Winterhoek mountains.

* Port St Francis to Cape St Francis walk. Start at the Port. Walk over the road leading into the harbour and through the gap in the wall on the right to the sea. This path follows the coastline. You will walk across Boulder Bay and into the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve. Pass by magnificent sand dunes and steep rocky outcrops. Look out for the endangered African Black Oystercatchers, you are sure to see them as there are a number of pairs in this area. Dolphins and otter may be spotted so keep an eye out for them. 

* During certain times of the year, particularly during June/ July and Nov/Dec you may be in for a whale treat. Seals also may be spotted sunning themselves on the rocks along the way. It takes at least half an hour each way walking briskly. It is possible to walk on from Cape St Francis Point all the way to the lighthouse but it takes an additional one hour, one way.

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Photo, above, of Sand River by Mike Tagg

* Sand River outings. A lovely outing with the dogs is to walk up the Sand River to see the sand river crystal pools, see lots of birds, strange insects and lots of frogs plus other fauna. This walk is strenuous but a unique experience. 
After the rains when the river stops flowing a number of pools of water remain which attract wildlife and birds. Bush buck, duiker, bushpig and mongooses or (more likely) their tracks may be spotted. The walk starts at the Sand River causeway which is situated about half way between the traffic circle and the Kromme River Bridge.

* Game drives: Lombardini Game Reserve is close by on the Humansdorp side of the Kromme Bridge. Take the gravel road turnoff to Jeffreys Bay from the R330. 3 game drives a day. lots of wild animals to be seen from safari vehicles.

And last but not least here are some other things to do:

* Go on cycle rides and MTB rides, hire a bicyle if you don’t have one. Enquiries as to where to cycle and to hire a bike visit Custom Bikes.

* Play golf at St Francis Links estate or at St Francis Bay Golf Club;

* Play tennis at the courts in St Francis Bay or at Cape St Francis

* Go for long walks on St Francis Bay from main beach to the Kromme River Mouth – at low tide. If the tide catches you there are footpaths on the dunes to walk along to get back instead. or walk from main beach at Cape St Francis all the way to the point.. 

* Visit Nomvula’s Knitters and buy homemade knitted goods and clothing. Situated off Tarragona Road behind Honda Marine. 

* Visit the Morning Market on the last Saturday of the month in St Francis Bay and buy delicious home made goodies and bric a brac.

* Spend a day in Jeffreys Bay and watch the top surfing events or visit Fountains Mall which has many of the national chain stores and interesting local shops. Have a coffee or meal at the delightful In Food, which serves great vegetarian dishes as well.

* Visit the Sustainable Seas Centre at the Port. Let the kids learn about the ocean and the creatures of the deep. This centre and the Heritage Centre periodically offer kids programs during the holidays. 

* Take a trip to Hankey and  visit the lovely shop, Tolbos, that sells all kinds of delicious home fare, like biscuits, tarts cakes, jams, ‘konfyt’ and preserves, where you  can also have refreshments and lovely lunches.  When there get directions to the Pearson’s farm,and try out the new Boozy milkshakes and other special cocktails at the Milk House Farmstyle Bar after 4 pm. Stay overnight on the farm in one of the lovely guest rooms let on a B&B basis.

* Those who love dining are recommended to try out the divine fare at some of St Francis Bay’s top restaurants in the area, including  St Francis Links, Trattoria, Joe Fish and Big Time Taverna.

* And last but not least, for lovers of music and live entertainmentm the St Francis Resort and Stix in Cape St Francis offer regular Sunday afternoon and Friday night gigs respectively.

 FORTHCOMING EVENTS IN ST FRANCIS BAY AND JEFFREYS BAY

The two Kouga towns of Jeffreys Bay and St Francis Bay have a bumper series of events lined up for the visitors and holiday makers for the next fortnight. There are exciting social and sporting events – designed to suit most people’s interests. 

A big draw of the Kouga Winter Festival will be two sporting celebrities taking part in the festivities: former world champion surfer Mark ‘Occy’ Occhilupo who will be seen in Jeffreys Bay’s surf while Comrades Marathon legend Bruce Fordyce will feature in St Francis Bay up at the St Francis Links where he will be running. This first parkrun is the anchor of St Francis Bay’s Winter Fest.

Occy is one of the big names who have been invited to take part in the inaugural Jeffreys Bay Open of Surfing. The contest will run at Supertubes from July 9 to 13 and is the anchor event of the first Jeffreys Bay Winter Festival, organised by the JBU Surf Club and Arthur Joubert.

The J’Bay Winter Festival and that of St Francis Bay fall during the school holidays. Print this Forthcoming Events’ Diary out and stick it on your fridge.

Social Events 

 13 July:  FSFFR – Friends of St Francis Fire and Rescue services Family Fun Day

  • The exciting and fun SuperSpar St Francis Bay Box Car Race is more than a sport event; it is also one of the most fun, local social events for participants and for spectators. It is being held as part of the FSFFR Fun Family Day at the St Francis Links this year. Race starts at 9.30 am from the clubhouse.  Registration: 8 am. Young and old are invited to build their own themed box car fire truck with three or four wheels but no engine. For more info: Sean Beard: 083 954 6315
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    Photos, above: last year’s Box Car event in St Francis Bay, sponsored by St Francis Bay SuperSpar

  • Minute to Win It! at St Francis Links: Take part in a series of 60-second challenges that use objects that are commonly available around the house. These games are designed for the whole family, from kids under the age of 10, youths and adults. This Blows | Balls of Fire | Unreel the Hose | Hot Air Rising |Fireman’s Snack | Fireman’s Pole | Stack the Coals | Fire in the Hole.  There are 4 Surprise games on the day for Adults & Youth. Ensure you practice enough games to beat the clock! Info Jacky: 082 493 3836
  • Quiz night  games at the Links at 6.30 pm. For more info: Jacky: 082 493 3836
  • Bake Off at the Links: Try your hand at baking a treat and stand a chance to win some great prizes. Starts at 12 pm. Home Baker, sweet or savoury  or professional. You can also bake a ‘Fire’ themed cake to be raffled off for a good cause. 
  • There will also be market stalls and fire demos. 

 Sport Events 6-14 July

 6 – 7 July:  Jacobsons EP Seniors at the St Francis Golf Club.

 6 July: 

  • JBay Cold Water Swim.  Not for the faint-of-heart. Swimmers have to tackle long distances . Extreme swimmers will take on the challenge of a 7,5km swim, or a 2,5km swim. The swim will take place from the Infood Blu restaurant, which will also be having its official opening on the same day as the swim.  Info: Brenton at 083 549 6795.
  • Skins Fishing Competition JBay.  Anglers can win R1000 per hour in this competition from 8 am to 2 pm between Dolphin Beach and the far side of the Kabeljous lagoon. Main prize is R6000 cash plus there is a prize for the biggest edible fish of the day and other prizes. Info: Sonya on 078 087 2806. 

9 – 13 July: 

 Jeffreys Bay Open of Surfing presented by Billabong with around 40 surfers participating including top drawcard Australian surfer, Occy.  There is a first prize of R30 000 for the surfing event. Nixon SA will be giving away a magnificent Nixon Magnacon watch in their ‘Winner Takes All’ event. The WTA is an award that will be going to the best tube ride of the entire event, and the Magnacon is valued at R9000. The Jeffreys Bay Open Of Surfing has a waiting period from  9-13 July and forms the anchor for the JBay Winter Fest.

An exciting sideline to the main J’Bay Open of Surfing event from  will be the FFFF Friction Free Session. This surfing demo without fins, is orchestrated by the leading exponent in this discipline, Derek Hynd.  Hynd has developed his Friction Free skills on the waves of Supertubes over the last few seasons and will lead this demo. He will be joined by a few hand-picked local surfers and possibly a few international guests.

10 –  13 July: 

Tuna & Marlin Challenge at the St Francis harbour.  Contact Garth Webb on garthw@huttco.za

 12 July: 

Skate boarding event, in Jeffreys Bay

Core Downhill Skateboarding (sokkie jol) downhill event will will showcase some of the finest skating talent in South Africa. It will take place at Sable Street, Jeffreys Bay. For further info contact Koffie at 084 515 7026.

12 –  13 July:  FSFFR – Friends of St Francis Fire Charity weekend at St Francis Links – sports events.

  • 12 July: There will be a fun Jumpathon. Participants can jump in family, friends’ or business’ groups for 24 hours. Starts 2 pm.
  • 13 July:
  • Parkrun & walk time trail at St Francis Links with Bruce Fordyce & Bob Norris. Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce will be at the Links to launch the first of the  St Francis ‘parkrun’ events, which are free, weekly 5km time trails for runners and walkers every Saturday at the Links from 8 am.  Fordyce and co-runner Bob Norris will participate in this first parkrun. 
  • SuperSpar St Francis Bay Box Car Race at 9.30 am from the Links clubhouse entrance(See info under Social Events, above)
  • Golf Betterball, fun event at the Links.  If you decorate your cart as a fire engine you stand to win a prize

13 July:  

  • Funduro in J’Bay. Motorcycle event for novices and pros. Presented by the Rover Motorcycle Club and Slake Adventures on at Ranger’s, just past the Fountains Mall en route to the N2. Riders of all levels are welcome. Info: Roche on 076 135 9443.
  • MTB Open JBay.  Bikers will race through a scenic route of farms and bush. There is a strenuous 40 km or 90 km race, open to all categories, or a fun ride of 5km, open to all ages. Starts at 8 am at the Fountains Mall. Categories from 16 years to +60. Info: 654 7101 or Marius on 076 162 0893.

14 July:

 Flamingo Trail Run JBay.  The 12 km run to Kabeljous Estuary and in the bush along the river. Starts at Supertubes, Pepper Street from noon. Info: Lindi at 076 760 1994

 

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