Just off the R72, about 130 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, the quiet little seaside haven of Kenton-on-Sea on the Sunshine Coast has beautiful, vast expanses of beach - perfect for endless walks lost in contemplation.
Set amidst the riverine forests of the Bushmans and Kariega Rivers, the village has a peaceful, unpretentious atmosphere. Although the lagoon and beaches are popular, the summer crowds never equal those thronging other South African coastal towns, and a nature reserve along the sea shore prevents overdevelopment from spoiling the area.
The rolling green hills and high dunes in the area are home to world-class nature reserves, such as the Kariega Game Reserve, and the region offers superb bird-watching, with up to 280 species.
Basic necessities are available at the local shop and bottle store and one or two pleasant coffee shops and restaurants, while Port Alfred (just 20 kilometres away) offers greater choice.
Rain falls in summer and winter and is unpredictable rather than frequent, but this area is known for its sunshine and mild climate, with lows of about 8°C and highs of about 27°C. The changing moods of Kenton are attractive in any weather, and its exceptionally clean, fresh air and unbridled natural beauty refresh the soul and offer a sense of freedom and solace.
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Kenton’s Kariega main beach is accredited with Blue Flag status, denoting world-class standards. The Indian Ocean coastline ensures bearable sea temperatures for swimming. Fishing and watersports are popular pastimes. The Bushmans River is navigable for 32 kilometres, and the Kariega for 16 kilometres.
Restaurants – Stanley’s, just outside Kenton, has an amazing view of the Kariega River below. It is closed on Sunday evenings (Tel. +27 46 648 1332). The Sandbar Floating Restaurant is permanently moored on the lagoon at Bushman’s River Mouth. Although somewhat tardy-looking, the food is edible and the setting novel. Homewoods a la carte and pizzeria, on the Kenton main beach, serves excellent seafood and pizza in a tranquil and beautiful setting.
Beachcomber Horse Trails - an experienced guide leads riders over pristine beaches and coastal forest (rides range from one-and-a-half hours to three days) astride even-tempered Arabian-crosses.
Kariega Game Reserve - this exclusive 9 000-hectare malaria-free private reserve spans riverine forest, bushveld, grasslands, fynbos and acacia woodlands, with the Big Five, hippo, hyena, and giraffe, accommodation, game drives, walks and boat trips. Open to day visitors.
Neighbouring attractions - Bushman’s River Mouth, across the Bushman’s River from Kenton on the R72, has some interesting arts and crafts shops. Alexandria (25 kilometres from Kenton) has incredible dunes; Port Alfred’s elegant Marina is within 30 kilometres; and the settler towns of Grahamstown and Bathhurst are within 58 kilometres.