Umngazi River Bungalows is a really special resort in a beautiful setting at the mouth of the Umngazi River, near Port St John.
You have to book well in advance – it’s incredibly popular with South Africans, especially from Joburg, who come for quite long periods. Peak periods and South Africa school holidays are impossible, because the regulars return year after year.
Accommodation is in 65 comfortable individual bungalows or rondavels, with views of the lagoon, the Indian Ocean or the garden. Three honeymoon cottages have private patios, sea views, and outside showers.
You can swim in the pool, or the river estuary, or in the sea. You can take a boat out to sea or canoe up the river, go fishing, walk on the rocky beach or along the sandy estuary, go horse-riding, play tennis or table tennis. In season, you can watch the whales as you enjoy a treatment in the new spa and wellness centre.
The hotel serves very good, fresh Eastern Cape home cooking, based on seasonal fruit and vegetables and seafood, for which the Wild Coast is renowned. Dine al fresco on the timber deck overlooking the pool and lagoon, or in the restaurant. You can also ask for dinner in the underground wine cellar.
This is a lively family resort. Umngazi is geared up to cater for children of all ages and has trained child minders and babysitters. Small children have a sandpit, trampolines, a play fort and their own dining room. The trained gillies are kind and display boundless patience, if your children want to learn to fish.