Cintsa beach from top of dune
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Updated on January 30, 2019

On Day 8 of the Hectic Route, our Johannesburg to Cape Town road trip, the Wild Coast gets less wild and we come to a complete stop alongside old people and heaps of backpackers in Cintsa. 

colorful rondavels driving from mdumbi to cintsa
Turquoise paint seemed to be on sale in this and every town we drove by.

From Wild to White

If you’ve read our previous posts, you’ll know that the Wild Coast is absolutely beautiful, but it doesn’t meet our definition of “wild.” 

Well, Cintsa, a four-hour drive from our previous Wild Coast stop of Mdumbi, was even less wild. Much less.

It was retiree heaven.

Driving into Cintsa, we began to notice some pretty nice hotels and housing developments. There was a private game reserve just outside of our hotel, a craft brewery, and even a golf course.

And a weekend Farmer’s Market, Tea in the Trees.

After a few days of seeing pretty much only black faces, it was startling to suddenly see so many white ones at the market. And, to our disappointment, the market didn’t have much anything else. The setting was nice but there was just one cafe (getting ready to host a wedding) and a handful of stalls selling overpriced creams, preserves, and questionable artwork.

We picked up some halloumi cheese from one vendor and were in and out of the market in ten minutes.

Buccaneers Lodge and Backpackers

Less then ten minutes from the market, we made it to our accommodation for the day, Buccaneers Lodge and Backpackers.

Located on the side of a hill at the mouth of a river with stunning views of Cintsa beach, Buccaneers sprawled with various types of accommodation and crawled with fellow travelers. It was well-maintained, friendly, and comfortable, but all traces of “wild” had certainly been wiped out over its 37-year history.

Speaking of wiped, the sun was really starting to beat down on us and we were eager to head to the beach to cool off and relax, so we checked in, snacked on some fried halloumi and Xhosa bread from Mdumbi, and walked down.

views of beach in cintsa from bucaneers hotel
Views from Buccaneers in Cintsa.

Slowing Down to a Stop

Venturing into very British-feeling town of Cintsa East for sunscreen to protect us from getting as torched as we did on yesterday’s walk to Coffee Bay, we then stopped by the Village Bistro where we each had a chicken salad and sat amongst other retirees.

We then continued our leisurely day with a long stroll along Cinta’s seemingly never-ending main beach.

Dipping our feet into the cold turquoise waters, we looked for shells, avoided stepping on washed up blue bottle jellyfish, and enjoyed the feeling of the soft sand between our toes.

Chris enjoyed the feel of the soft sand so much (or maybe he just felt restless) that he decided to run up and down the dunes ten times for a workout before joining me to lie on the sand in full relaxation.

It was a great feeling to just lie there and do nothing for the first time in our Hectic Route, soaking in the beautiful weather and scenery and relishing our fortune to be so far from cold, rainy Vancouver.

top of sand dune view of cintsa beach
Chris decided to go against the retired life and ran up and down this dune a number of times while I napped.

Fishing For Hammerheads

Along the beach we also watched fisherman fish for kob, a common South African saltwater fish, right from the beach. They were serious fishermen with serious collections of gear. One group even had matching jackets with their names on them.

They stood there for hours and hours. But instead of kob, they were catching…sharks. Baby sharks.

In total, we saw three separate occasions of fishermen catching sharks. That included one hammerhead shark which was pretty incredible to see, and at the same time scary (at least for me).

So when Chris went for a dip, I elected not to stay on shore, just in case.

unlucky fisherman throws baby shark back into ocean on cintsa's main beach
Fisherman throwing back it’s baby shark.
locals pose with a fisherman who caught a baby shark accidentally cintsa beach
Locals posing with this fisherman’s accidental baby shark catch.
baby hammerhead shark caught by local fisherman
Just a casual baby hammerhead shark in the waters we were swimming in.
walking back to bucaneers hotel in cintsa along lagoon pathway
Slowly walking back to Buccaneers Lodge after a hard day in Cintsa.

Romance Back at Buccaneers

We continued back to the hotel in the late afternoon to freshen up, write, and have a beer. The benches by Buccanners’ reception that overlooked the beach were a perfect spot to catch up on emails and blogging.

Once the sun went down, we joined in the optional 95 rand ($6.60 US) family-style dinner put on by the lodge. The candle-lit dining room was quite romantic, even though it buzzed with other travelers with drinks in hand, eagerly awaiting the meal.

We dined with Lisette, an inspiring wheel-chair-bound solo traveler who we’d met at Mdumbi a couple days prior, and enjoyed a delicious meal of home-cooked vegetarian and meat lasagna, a hearty farmer’s salad, and freshly baked bread. And, of course, a bottle of South Africa’s finest $4 US Merlot.

Stuffed, buzzed, and 100% relaxed, we went to bed, ready to return to our more hectic ways tomorrow. 

Travel Tips:

  • Don’t expect too much (or to stay too long if you want action). There isn’t a whole lot to do in Cintsa other than walk along the beach and dunes, relax and read, swim with sharks, and possibly get stung by Blue Bottle jellyfish.
  • Try canoeing. Buccaneers offers canoes for guests to use to paddle up the river. We didn’t have a chance (or really an interest) in going but if you are staying for more than a day a morning canoe up the river would be very peaceful.

Next Up (Hectic Route Day 9):
The Mystical Mountain Realm of Hogsback

The Labyrinth at the Edge in Hogsback

How to Have an Even Better South Africa Road Trip than Ours

South Africa Road Trip Planning tips cover image of a sign saying bon voyage in xhosa
“Hamba kakuhle” means “bon voyage” in Xhosa.

For everything from safety tips to how to find the best rental car to what our absolute favorite experiences are, check out our South Africa road trip tips.


Disclosure: Whenever possible, we use special links that earn us a cut if you pay for stuff we'd recommend anyway. It costs you nothing, so we’d be crazy not to.

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