Summerstrand is a popular suburb on the beachfront of Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay. It was once an elite neighbourhood, home only to the affluent of the Friendly City. Now, however, it is the address of a melting pot of people from all over the world; particularly students, being located so close to the Nelson Mandela Municipality University (NMMU). At any given time, the suburb is abuzz with the local and international young and trendy.
The homes of Summerstrand are unique. Many of them have earned ‘mansion’ status, and their architecture is made all the more unique by their designers’ aiming to make the most of the views of the beach. Glass, Perspex and windows that occupy almost every possible angle characterise these houses, many of which have been converted into guesthouses and Bed & Breakfast establishments.
The beaches will certainly lure just about any tourist, as it does the locals. Beaches within the suburb include Pollock Beach and Hobie Beach, which are both extremely popular. The Indian Ocean waters are far warmer than those of the Atlantic Ocean, making the swimming conditions in Port Elizabeth ideal, even when the weather begins to cool down for autumn. Surfers love the varied surfing conditions of these beaches, as they are suitable for pros and novices alike.
Summerstrand is also known for being the home of the Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment Centre. This complex boasts a huge variety of restaurants, ranging from family hotspots (like Wimpy, Steers, Dulcé Café and The Spur) to more formal options (like Squires). There is an African market that sells a range of mementoes, clothing, shoes, accessories, and goods for the home. There are also adventure shops, boutiques, jewellers and more at The Boardwalk. The casino is sizeable and provides the full range of tables and machines for the dedicated gambler or those just wanting to have a little fun. It is tastefully decorated, reflecting the glitz and glamour of a Vegas hotspot without negotiating on class and style. The bowling alley remains a firm favourite of the Boardwalk, as do the pool tables right next door.
The Summerstrand Village Shopping Centre is a small, but inclusive, mall that is conveniently situated for locals and visitors alike. Banks, a Pick ‘n Pay, post office, chemist, coffee shop, restaurant, take-away outlets, boutiques and more all ensure that this is a one-stop-shop for those in the area.
Hobie Beach is not only popular for its idyllic water and white sand. There is also a grassy picnic spot, rock pools in which little ones can play more safely, and a complex of restaurants, bars and an ice cream shop. Whether you are looking for a tasty treat from KFC, a reasonably priced meal from Angelo’s or a more sophisticated meal at Blue Waters Café, all of these options promise gorgeous views of the sea as well as of Shark Rock Pier, which takes one right into the ocean for magnificent views. Barney’s is a popular bar, with a deck overlooking the ocean and a laid-back atmosphere.
The famous Cape Recife Lighthouse is right on the outskirts of Summerstrand. This lighthouse is over 130 years old and is part of a larger reserve. The walk through the reserve is simply beautiful. Look out for bottlenose dolphins (especially in the morning and late afternoon) as well as whales during the period of July to December.