This little bay and quaint village, accessible via 65 kilometres of gravel road from Gcuwa (Butterworth), is one of the most exquisite destinations along the Wild Coast.
It is named for a ship called the Mazeppa that was involved in some colourful adventures in the mid-1800s before running aground in the bay. Dick King is said to have been asleep on the ship when he was roused to ride for help in 1842.
The Wild Coast has centuries’ worth of shipwreck tales - Mazeppa’s Clan Lindsay Rocks are named for the 2 668-ton S.S. Clan Lindsay that was wrecked there in March 1898.
One of the best-known features of Mazeppa Bay is its island. Depending on the tides, it is sometimes only accessible via a suspension bridge from First Beach at Mazeppa Point, south of the Qhora River. Mazeppa’s beaches and lagoon are glorious for swimming and it is also a prime game-fishing spot due to the steep continental sea shelf.
Mazeppa Bay has a registered boat launch off the beach, a 550-metre landing strip for light aircraft and a helipad, and is two-and-a-half hours from East London airport. It offers beachfront en-suite hotel and self-catering accommodation.
Look out for
Manubi Indigenous Forest - Seven kilometres of trails meander among yellowwood and sneezewood trees. A four-kilometre coastal hike north leads to the wreck of the Jacaranda, a 2000-ton ship that ran aground in 1971.
Exquisite beach-hopping - First Beach is popular for swimming and surfing, with beautiful views from the bridge and strandlopers’ shell middens. The nearby sand dunes and shell beds of Second Beach and Shelley Beach are preferred by shell collectors and latter-day “beach-walkers”. A Second World War patrol plane once crashed at One Mile Rocks after trying to make an emergency landing on One Mile Beach.
Shark- and deep-sea fishing at the island, Shark Point and Cable Rock – Anglers can hook Zambezi sharks, blackfins, copper and dusky sharks, hammerheads, raggies and hound sharks, garrick, shad, kob, black steenbras, white mussel crackers, bluefish, galleon and blacktail, depending on the season and weather conditions.
Mazeppa Bay Hotel – Facilities and activities keeps visitors busy - a swimming pool, canoes, mountain bikes, tennis court, gym, steam room, beach volleyball, table tennis, snooker and pool tables, kiddies’ playground and trampoline, fishing rods and reels for hire, and a bar.
If home is to the north, via Mthatha on the N2, stop off at Qunu to see the Nelson Mandela Museum.