St Francis Info
St Francis is situated in the Kouga Region, the eastern gateway to the Garden Route and Plettenberg Bay, and only an hour’s drive west from Port Elizabeth. We are also part of the scenic Route 62 and less than 90km south of the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area.
Back in 1575 Portuguese sailors discovered the beautiful bay and named it after St Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Nature and the Environment, which was then adopted for the newly established village only in 1979. The town started from the insight of developer Leighton Hulett, who in early 1954 set up a small fishing camp on the Goedgeloof Farm. At his insistence the village still has to conform to the white walled and black roofed building style which gives St Francis Bay its unique character. In May 1968 Leighton acquired more land on the banks of the Kromme River and began work on what today has become an impressive canal system and a much sought after piece of real estate.
Further down the R330 you find the informal village of Cape St Francis with is wide pristine Blue Flag Beach. The beach takes a symmetrical curving pattern which leads to a stretch of gleaming white sand in the lee of ever shifting sand dunes. To the south of the beach you will see the iconic Seal Point Lighthouse built back in 1878 on the south-eastern most point of Africa. Cape St Francis was developed by John Booysen in the mid 1950’s who traded his much beloved Chevrolet for a part of the rocky coast farm bordering Seal Point. Cape St Francis became an official town in 1965.
To the west and some 20km away lies the small hamlet of Oyster Bay, jealously nurtured and guarded by the locals. The beach is 8km long, and fishermen’s footpaths lead to ancient fish traps, only visible during low tide.
St Francis has a Mediterranean climate with mild summer temperatures, ranging from a winter average of 12°C to 33°C in the summer months. Locals fortunate enough to stay permanently in the greater Kouga will testify to the extraordinary sunsets which is unique to the coastline, however it is often forgotten when the predominately westerly winds pick up, sometimes to exceed 80km during storms – but these natural elements make St Francis just that extra bit special.
This unique seaside village and exclusive paradise on the east coast of South Africa draws national and international holidaymakers to enjoy the glorious beaches lapped by the warm Indian Ocean. The Canals, Village, Santareme as well as Port St Francis boasts over 50 different sporting codes, excellent facilities, a leisurely lifestyle which combined with the magical beauty of the unspoilt surroundings of this unique St Francis Bay holiday town, make for a great seaside town. Waves within the bay offer some of the finest surfing in the world with well know breaks such as Bruce’s Beauties, Seals, Shark Point and Full Stop. You can do beach horse riding in Oyster Bay, while golfers have two golf courses to choose from. The Kromme River Mouth and Cape St Francis main beach are some of the most popular kite surfing spots in the country. The extensive canal system, linked to the Kromme River estuary, offers residents and holidaymakers an exotic lifestyle which in some cases include their own private beaches. Here you can experience unique pleasures of staying at water’s edge whilst having the excitement of fishing from your front garden.
While the Canals and the Village is famous for the unique black and white building style, the architecture in Santareme and Port St Francis boasts Mediterranean/Tuscan styled homes. Luxury apartments, simplexes and flats surrounds the turquoise green waters in Port St Francis. The architecture of the St Francis Links, a Jack Nicklaus signature course, reflects a distinct similarity to that found in the Village and Canals. These varied architectural styles combine to make St Francis as unique as it is attractive.
Port St Francis, the only privately owned working harbour in South Africa, is home to the local fleet of chokka boats (squid), pilchard and hake vessels. The privately owned deep sea fishing boats and yachts are moored safely between the luxurious Port residential units on water’s edge. Visiting the Port would not be complete without a tasting of local calamari that is on offer at the numerous local restaurants. Whale watching trips and bay cruises can also be booked.
Cape St Francis has a beautiful vast untouched beach, surrounded by various protected nature areas such as the Irma Booysen Flora Reserve where well marked hiking trails meanders through coastal thicket and forest. It resembles a quaint fishing and surfers village, and is also home to a SANCCOB Sea Bird and African Penguin Rehabilitation Centre, situated next to the Seal Point Lighthouse.
St Francis also plays host to some of the most fun filled activities such as the popular Nautical Festival in April, the St Francis Sport Summer Series in December as well as a Quilters Camp in May, to name but a few.