Cape Recife Lighthouse Villa, occupying a landmark building within the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, is a great place to stay in Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) – truly one of the most romantic getaways in South Africa.
We offer a most unique type of accommodation, close to all the major attractions of Port Elizabeth, so you can easily explore the city, while feeling a million miles away from it.
The Eastern Cape, with its mild climate, renowned beauty and natural biodiversity is an outstanding destination rich with potential. Some 15 kilometres south of the pretty coastal city of Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), at the southern point of Algoa Bay, is the 366 ha (900 acre) Cape Recife Nature Reserve, proclaimed in 1973. Untouched and little-known, the Reserve is an extraordinarily beautiful and elemental stretch of wild coastal space – one of the best beaches in South Africa.
If you’re looking for luxury accommodation in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, at the northern end of the Garden Route, you’ve found it at Cape Recife Lighthouse Villa!
The original Portuguese name translates to “Cape of the reefs”, a reference to the geological features of this south-eastern part of South Africa’s coastline upon which many ships met their end. For this reason, an historic lighthouse was built on this promontory.
The Cape Recife Lighthouse was built in 1851 and the first light beamed across the ocean on 1 April of that year. The lighthouse warns passing ships of the dangers of the romantically named Thunderbolt Reef – named after the HMS Thunderbolt, a British Royal Navy Sail and Paddle Frigate. Several natural hazards such as Thunderbolt Reef and Roman Rock, not far offshore, have claimed many a ship.
The lighthouse is a twenty-four-metre-high masonry tower, octagonal in cross-section. Originally painted four alternate bands of white and red, this was changed in 1929 to black and white bands which is the present colour scheme.
A military lookout bunker from World War 2 is also present in the reserve, marking its historically strategic location.
The landmark structures found in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve are a jewel in South Africa’s tourism portfolio.
We are delighted to offer a new, exciting adventure activity to our visitors. The dynamic team from The Behold Collection is offering exclusive marine safari excursions to experience this jewel, a highlight destination for Port Elizabeth tourism.
The suite of activities available for visitors to the Cape Recife Nature Reserve is an outstanding addition to the area’s many natural attractions, exposing tourists to a range of coastal fauna and flora, including whales, dolphins, penguins and other bird life, as well as myriad residents of intertidal zones and dune systems.
Always a favourite destination for divers and surfers, the fertile reefs offer a wealth of biodiversity. Rich marine flora and fauna are found among the rocks and wrecks scattered beneath these waves.
On the shores, the remnants of corals, shells and other sea life are a beachcomber’s treasure trove.
This coastal destination is highly affordable to the average South African. We believe that every citizen should be able to experience their heritage and it is our privilege to show them this new world.
Our ultimate ‘beach cottage with a difference’ accommodation is perfect for couples, families, and groups of up to four friends. The Cape Recife Lighthouse Villa has two adjacent rooms that can accommodate two people in each (sharing a double bed).
The cozy lounge with its wide doors opening straight onto the magnificent beach vista, indoor fireplace for colder nights, and large dining table for board games and lazy dinners all add to the experience of this amazing spot. Be the first on the beach in the morning and when it gets too hot, escape the midday sun for a snooze before heading out again. The perfect recipe for a relaxed family getaway!
Whether an early breakfast excursion or a sundowner bush and beach safari, the discoveries and photographic opportunities in the golden hours are endless. A highly experienced guide educates visitors on fascinating aspects of the interconnected marine and terrestrial ecosystems that make this destination unique.
Wildlife in South Africa is not limited to land-based animals. We have a wealth of marine wildlife too! Three-hour tours are open to day trippers as well as accommodated guests, and include either a delicious beach breakfast (morning), or an evening drive culminating in a sundowner stop with snacks and drinks from a magnificent viewpoint.
This unique destination is accessible through trips by vehicle on tracks behind the dune cordon and include stretches of walking on dunes, beach and rocks. The coastal safari is just one of many family-friendly activities in Port Elizabeth, and a perfect way for people of all ages to enjoy and appreciate a breath-taking part of South Africa’s coastline, in the company of whales, dolphins, seals and so much more.
Cape Recife is just perfect for easy hiking for almost any age and fitness level, and on the favourite things to do in Port Elizabeth. Whether along paths or scrambling over rocks, peppered with rock pools filled with fascinating marine creatures, the reserve is a fantastic destination for a soul stroll.
Our knowledgeable guides will tailor exactly what you’re after, unveiling facts and fables about birds, animals, flowers and more. Let us know your personal preferences and we will ensure that the tour caters to your needs and delivers!
Another awesome way to experience this gem that is Cape Recife Nature Reserve is by bike. It has long been a favourite weekend thing to do in Port Elizabeth for local cyclists, and we suggest you pack the wheels to allow exploration of the wide, safe roads that weave between the vegetated dunes to some of the best beaches in South Africa.
Bird watching in South Africa is like landing in paradise. Keen bird watchers already know the avian specials that this coastline offers, with Cape Recife being regarded as one of Port Elizabeth’s/ Gqeberha’s prime birding spots. Novices will be blown away by the diversity! Four bird categories are prevalent here: pelagic, coastal, bush and freshwater birds. Specials include the Roseate tern – after which a 9km trail is named – along with Damara, Swift, Sandwich, Common and Arctic terns, African black oystercatcher, Grey plover, Bar-tailed godwits, Purple heron, African jacana, African swamphen, Little bittern, African rail and many more.
When weather conditions are favourable, one may see pelagic birds such as albatrosses, storm petrels, jaegers, shearwaters and giant petrels.
Our great birding guides tailor birding walks, trips to the estuary and visits to bird hides, and will do their utmost to help you find those lifers!
With the highly diverse flora native to this coastline, botanical tours are a sought-after speciality, and our well-trained gurus cannot wait to reveal to visitors the unique and miraculous plant life in this region. Cape Recife Nature Reserve is part of a greater conservancy that protects globally important plants like St Francis dune fynbos, thicket mosaic vegetation, and endemic coastal fynbos. If you aren’t already a plant fundi – this tour will show you a new world of pleasure and nature appreciation.
Surely one the top things to do in Port Elizabeth, we offer the possibility of a glimpse into another world with our tours of this fabulous piece of infrastructure. Lighthouses encompass an aura of romance, danger and legend – oh the stories they could tell! Be swept up in the drama, relive the history and feel the significance that this beacon has held for so many whose lives are spent on the ocean.
Join us for a view that angels enjoy – this rugged and raw stretch of coastline is truly magnificent when experienced from the air. Be mesmerised by whales, dolphins or penguins cruising the crystal waters. This is the absolute best way to gain an appreciation for God’s creation and is highly recommended as part of your Cape Recife adventure, paired with a land-based marine safari to explore close-up the incredible scenes you’ve enjoyed from above.