Eastern Cape Tourist AttractionsSardinia Bay Marine Protected Area
Where? Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
The aim of a marine protected area is to conserve marine life. They take the form of a collaboration between civil society, communities and government that promote conservation and safeguard threatened marine species and important habitats.
Pretty Sardinia Bay, a pretty cove complete with sand dunes, lies between Schoenmakerskop and Seaview to the west of Port Elizabeth. It is one of few beaches along the coast that does not have a coastal road alongside the beach, part of the reason for its popularity (no seaside development).
The bay and beautiful beach – one of the best walking beaches in the city - is not as easily accessible as Kings or Hobie beach, but is well worth the effort. Miles of unspoilt sand translate into hours of strolling with your dog, as it is one of few beaches that still allows your mutt to go with you.
If you're after a formal walk then do the Sacramento Trail (its start lies on the end of Marine Drive)– an 8 km coastal roundtrip through the Schoenmakerskop-Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve and MPA with seascapes and landscapes to match. The hike includes Strandloper middens, a mass of shells thousands of years old, lying in the sand – evidence of the 'beach walker' people.
This bay, adjacent to the Sardinia Bay Nature Reserve, is a marine protected area - a 7 km rocky and sandy coastline that also extends one nautical mile (1 852 metres) offshore to include subtidal rocky reefs and sandy benthos (the organisms that live in the sandy bottom of the sea).
The MPA is a no-take area, with absolutely no fishing allowed between a beacon near Schoenmakerskop and another at Bushy Park. Schoenmakerskop, on the other hand, is a really popular rock and gully fishing spot.
But other than the fishing regulations, the MPA has no specific laws for boating and diving (snorkelling and scuba-diving are particularly popular within the reserve), which it needs urgently, particularly given the problem of ongoing abalone poaching.
Sardinia Bay lies just around the headland from Summerstrand and Port Elizabeth's central city area. Marine Drive comes to an end, making a sharp right turn inland into Victoria Drive to the east of the bay, and if you want to get to Sardinia Bay, you need to take Sardinia Bay Road just north of the turn, where it travels due west, before heading south to the shoreline.