Off the Beaten Track in South Africa
South Africa is blessed with over 2,500km of coastline with seemingly endless sandy beaches. Discovering hidden little gems like the beach at Three Sisters in the Eastern Cape is what holidays are all about. Located approximately 12km outside of the seaside holiday resort of Port Alfred heading toward East London there is a small turnoff to Riet River. A short drive down a dirt track that borders onto the Ocean Beach and Wildlife Reserve brings you to a small collection of private holiday homes nestled in the bush with free parking. Despite the signs on the gate which indicate ‘Private Property’ you are permitted to walk through and take the short 5 minute walk beside the Riet River estuary down to the beach.
As you step onto the sandy beach ensure you head down towards the Indian Ocean and then walk to your left. Ahead lies a 15 to 20 minute casual flat stroll towards the Three Sisters – three huge prominent rocks that are impossible to miss. The best time to enjoy this beach is at low-tide when the sea withdraws to reveal a myriad of rock pools and sandbanks. During the peak holiday season around Christmas you will find numerous locals enjoying the walk with their dogs or children. The rocks revealed at low-tide are also popular with local fishermen that stand and fish there.
Before long you will have reached the Three Sisters rocks which you can climb over or around depending on how energetic you feel and whether it is low-tide. There is a well-trodden path over the rocks with superb views down and all the way back to where you started your walk from. All around the rocks are little coves which make a lovely spot to relax in or escape the wind on certain days. It’s also a great place to enjoy a picnic.
If you take a walk over the rocks around the bottom of the Three Sisters you will spot huge numbers of molluscs stuck to the rocks but watch out for the blow-holes which send spurts of water high up into the air as the tide ebbs and flows underneath them. One spurt of these when you are least expecting it will probably drench you.
It is not uncommon to see horses on the beach at Three Sisters with groups of up to 8 riders enjoying the 1 hour, 2 hour or half-day horse trails along the unspoilt beach trotting through the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean and through the sand dunes. Of all the beaches along this stretch of the Eastern Cape of South Africa there can be few as beautiful or as quiet.