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Paradise on our doorstep 

Just outside Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha) in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, with its glorious mild climate, renowned beauty and natural biodiversity, is an outstanding destination rich with potential. Untouched and little-known, the Cape Recife Nature Reserve is an extraordinarily beautiful, elemental stretch of wild coastal space fringed by white beaches, rocky reefs and aquamarine ocean. 

Discover the Beauty and Biodiversity of the Cape Recife Nature Reserve

In the middle of this pocket of paradise is the historic Cape Recife lighthouse, which shone its first warning light on 1 April 1851, alerting passing ships to the dangers of the romantically named Thunderbolt Reef. Thunderbolt, which has sent many ships to a watery grave, is named after the HMS Thunderbolt, a British Royal Navy Sail and Paddle Frigate.    

Cape Recife Lighthouse, the fourth to be erected by the Cape colonial government, was the first constructed in the Port Elizabeth area, situated on the southern point of Algoa Bay. Cape Recife is the turning point into Algoa Bay where several dangers such as Thunderbolt Reef and Roman Rock, not far offshore, have claimed many a fine ship.

The striking lighthouse tower was originally painted four alternate bands of white and red. This was changed in 1929 to black and white bands – the present colour scheme. ( Psst: This grand structure will soon form the site of a boutique accommodation facility – watch this space for developments!)

The concession for the Cape Recife `Lighthouse tourism operation was awarded to the BEHOLD Collection last year, which then launched a fantastic niche addition to the suite of tourism activities for visitors to this area. Guided land-based coastal safaris undertake this trip in an open game viewer vehicle, driven by an accredited guide with superb marine, botanical and historical information, educating visitors on fascinating aspects of the interconnected marine and terrestrial ecosystems that make this destination unique.

This safari activity with a difference promises to expose tourists to a wealth of coastal fauna and flora, including whales, dolphins, penguins (including a visit to SANCCOB*) and other bird life, as well as myriad residents of intertidal zones and dune systems. There’s also some fascinating history connected to the buildings, as well as a hiking trail and neatly renovated bird hide overlooking an inland water body.

Photographers and birders are in for a super treat here. Flocks of gulls, several types of tern – including the endemic roseate tern, oystercatchers, herons, cormorants, ducks and teals are among common sightings. The rocky shores, ‘painted’ in colourful lichens, have a rugged photogenic beauty as they frame picturesque coves and bays.  

Whether an early breakfast excursion or a sundowner bush and beach safari, the discoveries and photographic opportunities in the golden hours are endless. Rates are highly affordable to the average South African as it is our belief that every citizen should be able to experience their heritage and it is our privilege to show them this new world. For foreign visitors flying in for a quintessential big five game experience in the Greater Addo region, the addition of a half day coastal trip at Cape Recife is a wonderful enhancement to create an exceptional beach and bush combination.

Tours are open to day trippers, last three hours each 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. Trips are by vehicle on tracks behind the dune cordon and include stretches of walking on dunes, beach and rocks. 

The Cape Recife coastal safari is a perfect way for families and outdoor lovers to enjoy and appreciate a breath-taking part of South Africa’s coastline. But don’t just take our word for it – our gallery of spectacular images will reveal so much more than words can convey, so please take a look!

We look forward to hosting you at Cape Recife soon!

The BEHOLD team.

*SANCCOB – Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds


ERF 2410



South Africa, 6001


Phone: +27 (0)42 235 1450