If you’re the kind of couple who enjoy the quieter, more simple things in life, then the Eastern Cape awaits to fulfill your desires. Far from the tourist crowds of Cape Town or the city rush of Johannesburg, this laid-back province takes one day at a time to savor each moment and just be for a while. So grab your honey’s hand and come on in, the Eastern Cape is waiting to stoke the fires of love and reveal romance.
Port Elizabeth is a friendly and relatively safe place to roam around, and the old city center is filled with historical buildings and points of interest. Couples can amble along on their own route or join up with a city tour. Once you are done head down to the beachfront for a refreshing cocktail served on the beach.
While strictly speaking, Plettenberg Bay falls into the Western Cape, it nevertheless fringes the border of the Eastern Cape, lying an easy two-hour drive from Port Elizabeth. Surrounded by amazing forests and the pristine natural landscape it, therefore, makes sense to stay in a tree house. And not any old treehouse at that, as the area has a wide selection of awesome treetop accommodation, ranging from comfortable and cozy to five-star luxury. Couples looking for a romantic retreat won’t find any better, with suites ensconced in foliage and the utmost in privacy and peace guaranteed.
After spending some time secluded in the treetops, you may feel the need to stretch your legs a bit and explore. The Eastern Cape is perfect for unplanned, whimsical road trips that take you nowhere in particular without feeling like you are lost in the woods. For something different, head off from Port Elizabeth towards the Kouga region, where pretty dairy farms dot the landscape and tiny, rural farming villages will amaze you with their hospitality and genuine friendliness. Stop for lunch at Tolbos Country Restaurant in Patensie for quirky scenery and an amazing meal. If the area takes your fancy then there are plenty of guesthouses and bed and breakfasts offering overnight accommodation that are usually not very busy and don’t require prior booking.
Many visitors to the Eastern Cape will be surprised to find there are a great variety of top-class wildlife reserves offering quieter, more intimate wildlife encounters than the ever popular Kruger National Park and other reserves around the Johannesburg area. Not far from Port Elizabeth is the famous Addo Elephant National Park, but those that take the time to venture slightly further will discover a couple’s paradise amid the bushveld and animals. Off the beaten track and away from the tourist crowds, these reserves are malaria free and picturesque, where lovers can unwind, enjoy some alone time, and hide out in the African bush for a while. Pampering comes standard at most these spots so why not spoil each other with a couples spa treatment and a candlelit dinner after a hard day on safari. Besides, nothing beats the sensual appeal of luxury Africa spa products massaged into your aching limbs with the sound of lions roaring in the background.
The Sunday’s River Valley just has to rate as one of the prettiest and romantic regions in the Eastern Cape where citrus orchards are flanked by rows of rose bushes, all fed by the life-giving Sunday’s River. The history of the valley reaches as far back as Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of Jock of the Bushveld, while the beautiful farm estates in the area indeed do give one an Out of Africa old-world feel. Many of the working farms offer charming and quaint accommodation options, as well as tours around the citrus-scented farm. Take a picnic blanket and don your sun hats as you play the roles of old colonial lovers meeting for a secret rendezvous surrounded by orange blossoms and roses.
If you want to lay claim to getting drunk on love at the southeasternmost point in the world then make your way to the little surfing village of Cape St Francis to find Sunset Rock. Don’t expect any road signs indicating how to get there, as this is one little spot the locals like to keep quiet about, but ask anyone how to get to the Wildside and you will soon figure it out. Take along a bottle of wine or any tipple of your choice, and perhaps a blanket, as it does get chilly, and snuggle up to wait for a natural spectacular. The cool breeze off the sea will give you good reason to get closer, while a smooth South African Pinotage should push up the love thermometer. What you do on the rocks under your blanket is up to you, but don’t forget to watch the sunset, a truly spectacular scene.
End the perfect romantic evening with a seafood platter for two. Just 10 minutes from Cape St Francis lies a working port and harbor where you can pick up fresh delicacies, such as local calamari and line fish. Eat with your fingers while you watch boats bob in the bay and the evening slows down to an awesome conclusion.