Ten reasons to love Nelson Mandela Bay
#1 Friendly people
NMB has long had the nickname of “The Friendly City”, due to its good-natured citizens. Although one of South Africa’s major cities, it retains a small-town feel. Expect plenty of smiles and a helpful attitude, making for an easy and pleasant event experience – both for the organiser and for the delegate.
#2 Venues with a view
Venues may be found in a variety of settings – from the bustling beachfront to the more secluded “Wild side” coast, and from the urban heart to quiet countryside, there’s a place to suit every requirement.
NMB has an extensive coastline, offering a range from rugged shores with tidal rockpools to expansive sandy beaches. Activities include hiking (with the most popular being the Cape Receife Nature Reserve and the Sacramento Trail), land- or boat-based whale and dolphin watching, and sandboarding, surfing or diving.
#4 Wildlife & Culture
Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to leisure activities. A half hour drive along the N2 will take you to Addo Elephant National Park (the third largest national park in South Africa), where the Big 5 may be viewed as well as the iconic flightless dung beetle. Alternatively, there is the Kragga Kamma Game Park right on the edge of the city which offers the opportunity to see rhino, giraffe, and cheetah, among many others.
Another interesting experience is the SANCCOB Seabird Rehabilitation Centre, situated in the Cape Receife Nature Reserve, which works to rehabilitate seabirds and educate the public. They do a lot of work with the critically endangered African penguin, which is endemic to the African coast from central Namibia to the Eastern Cape.
For art lovers, there are several art galleries, plus museums and places of historical and cultural importance. A must-do activity is Route 67, a walking tour through the heart of Port Elizabeth. It passes 67 public art works, symbolising Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of working towards freedom for all South Africans.
#5 Plenty of event service providers
When it comes to the service industry, NMB is well-provided. Anything you could require for your event – venues and accommodation, printers and photographers, caterers and decorators, entertainers and event software – can easily be found locally.
#6 Easy to get around
As the “10 minute city” NMB is simple for visitors to negotiate. The airport is central, with a short, pleasant drive to the beachfront (where the major hotels are situated). Most hotels offer a shuttle service, but all major car hire companies can be found at the airport. Uber and traditional taxi services are also available.
#7 Watersport Capital
Average sea temperatures vary between 230C in the summer and 180C in winter, making water sport comfortable year-round.
NMB is the only African host of a full length Ironman event, taking place annually in April. In September 2018, NMB also hosted the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.
There is an active sailing community, with the Algoa Bay Yacht Club (situated in the harbour) having been founded in 1959. Small vessel sailing in the Swartkops river is practiced from the Redhouse Yacht Club.
Swimming can be safely enjoyed from the easily-accessible beaches, as well as at the MacArthur Baths adjoining King’s Beach. On the outer rocky coast, there are numerous inlets and tidal pools that are also suitable for swimmers. Several offshore reefs offer the opportunity for scuba diving or snorkelling.
The area is also well-known for its surf spots, both within and without the bay. A 40 minute drive will also take one to Jeffreys Bay, home to the famous Supertubes break.
#8 A hub for Automotive and Pharmaceutical Manufacture, Oceans Economy, Agriculture
Historically NMB has always been a vehicle manufacturing hub. Volkswagen South Africa was established in NMB in 1946, and is still a major employer and economic driver of the area. GM has also manufactured vehicles here since 1926, and although the company disinvested in 2017, the plant has been bought by Isuzu and continues to operate. Ford likewise began assembling vehicles in NMB in 1923, and (as Samcor) still has a large engine plant in the metro. More recently, in 2014, leading Chinese automotive manufacturer FAW opened an assembly plant in the Coega IDZ.
Another long-standing local industry is pharmaceutical manufacturing. Berry Lennon started his business selling medicines in 1850, and Lennon Ltd. was established in 1898. Today it is part of Aspen Pharmacare, and still operates in the metro. Similarly, Intramed is a big manufacturer of injectable medications in our Bay.
Meanwhile Nelson Mandela University has launched a dedicated Ocean Sciences Campus – the first of its kind in South Africa. A whole range of marine and maritime education and training, research, innovation and engagement programmes are on offer to support the continent’s blue economy.
Citrus, Dairy and Mohair industries are centered in the farmland surrounding the city. Our port of Coega exports many of their products.
#9 Coffee shops, Restaurants and Food Trucks
There is a plethora of choice when it comes to eateries, ranging from laidback to “larney”. Nelson Mandela Bay is particularly well supplied with good coffee and sushi. Main hubs include the beachfront, Stanley Street area in Richmond Hill (one of the oldest parts of the city), and the Sixth Avenue/Main Road area of Walmer. Wherever you find yourself within the metro, there are sure to be several well-regarded options close by.
#10 Garden Route Gateway
NMB is often referred to as the “Gateway to the Garden Route”, offering easy access via the N2 to this scenic area. Once you’ve explored all that Nelson Mandela Bay has to offer, take a drive out to Jeffreys Bay, or Cape St Francis, or wander down to Plett and Knysna.