Port Alfred is a small town in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated on the eastern seaboard of the country at the mouth of the Kowie River, almost exactly halfway between the larger cities of Port Elizabeth and East London. The Kowie River with a tidal mouth navigable for 35 km. It rises south of Grahamstown and flows 60 km in a southeasterly direction, entering the Indian Ocean at Port Alfred. The name is probably derived from Khoekhoen and means ‘pipe river’.

In 1839, William Cock and George Hodgkinson started to block the natural river mouth to the east and canalise the present opening to the sea. By 1841 South Africa’s first man-made harbour was opened after completion of the stone lined channel between the ocean and the Kowie river. This allowed high-masted sailing ships with their heavy cargo to dock at the wharf.

Penedo das Fontes: Early Portuguese name of Ship Rock. It was given in 1488 by Bartolomeu Dias to a rock on which were two fountains; the name means ‘rock of the fountains’, leading some authorities to believe that the present Fountain Rocks at Port Alfred may be the original Penedo das Fontes.

Port Alfred boasts not only the climate, the water, the beaches and the historical connections, but has also  stepped into the modern world with top-class shopping malls, sophisticated healthcare, a Royal golf course, intimate small-boat harbour, light industry, international hospitality university and 43 Air School, a world-class training facility for pilots and air traffic controllers. Port Alfred has a stunning Royal Alfred Marina – one of few in the world where every home owner enjoys private water frontage and a personal jetty! Visitors can enjoy boat cruises through the Marina canals and if you feel energetic you can hire a water pedalo or canoe to make the trip.

Port Alfred is the principal town of the Bathurst district, at the mouth of the Kowie River. It was founded in 1825 and attained municipal status in 1894. At first named Port Frances, it was renamed in 1860 after the second son of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, who visited the Cape, the Orange Free State and Natal in 1860.

Unique in geographical situation, Port Alfred is surrounded by the most exciting array of game reserves and parks, yet to be equalled in Southern Africa. In a totally Malaria-free area, not only does Port Alfred boast of conservation and animals for display and enjoyment, but a proactive, world-class hunting industry.

Each year in July, nearby Grahamstown hosts the world-renowned National Arts Festival and Port Alfred also welcomes many of the visitors who come to enjoy the music, plays, art, comedy and crafts that attract thousands. Port Alfred also has a theatre in historic Wharf Street.

There is so much to do in the region, so many interesting places to go to and so much to do while visiting us here. The warm Indian Ocean and many inland water surfaces offer endless opportunities for bathing, boating, water-skiing, surfing, windsurfing, angling, diving, canoeing and bird watching. This is the world of eco-tourism where you can hike and holiday to your heart’s content at a wide variety of venues.

Port Alfred is part of the Sunshine Coast route that explores the spectacular strip of coastline between Port Elizabeth and East London where you travel via coastal towns and hamlets like Colchester, Alexandria, Kenton on Sea, Port Alfred and Kids Beach.

The area also boasts loads of restaurants and sociable bars to visit if you are here on holiday. Whether you come to rest or are looking for new experiences, you will find what you want here. We are the most exciting, pulsating, desirable and affordable holiday venue for any age. No wonder we welcome hordes of “swallows” every year from all over Europe. These folks escape the Northern Hemisphere winter and enjoy all our treasures and pleasures – and the fantastic sunshine, of course.

Port Elizabeth – Port Alfred 153 km’s
East London – Port Alfred 133 km’s

Port Alfred Office: Sunshine Coast Tourism

Cause Way, Port Alfred
P.O. Box 63, Port Alfred
Tel: 046-624-1235
Fax: 046-624-4139
email: tourism@sunshinecoasttourism.co.za

Return to the Eastern Cape Towns/Cities page.

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 9,747
Young (0-14) 19,6%
Working Age (15-64) 60,7%
Elderly (65+) 19,8%
Dependency ratio 64,8
Sex ratio 86,1
Population density 227 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 3,9%
Higher education aged 20+ 21,5%
Matric aged 20+ 33,2%
Number of households 3,213
Average household size 2,6
Female headed households 35,9%
Formal dwellings 89,6%
Housing owned/paying off 54,7%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 58%
Weekly refuse removal 89,2%
Piped water inside dwelling 84,3%
Electricity for lighting 90,8%


Port Alfred is part of the Ndlambe Local Municipality which is a Category B municipality situated within the Sarah Baartman District Municipality in the Eastern Cape Province. It is bordered by Makana to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the south, Ngqushwa to the east and Sundays River Valley to the west. It is the smallest of the seven municipalities in the district, making up only 3% of its geographical area.

The Ndlambe municipal area forms part of the Eastern Coastal Zone, which can be described as having a pristine coastal area, well-preserved river mouths and inter-tidal areas, diverse vegetation, relatively low density development along the coast, and major tourism potential.

Cities/Towns: Alexandria, Bathurst, Boknes/Cannon Rocks, Bushmans River, Kenton-on-Sea, Port Alfred, Seafield

Return to the Eastern Cape Towns/Cities page.

Visit the Eastern Cape Provincial Reserves page or Eastern Cape Private Reserves or maybe you would like to visit the Eastern Cape National Parks page.