Is there a better hostel in South Africa than the Coffee Shack? It’s a question most travellers pose at the end of their stay here. Tucked away in a little piece of paradise, Coffee Shack Backpackers is aptly named after its location in Coffee Bay, which is located next to the Bomvu River in the Transkei region of the Eastern Cape in South Africa.
The remoteness of the location allows one to feel as if they’re not in South Africa, but rather the ‘real’ Africa most travellers come to the continent to experience. A backpackers’ tropical paradise, the amenities and activities offered at Coffee Shack is the best value for money you can get. From the cheap surf lessons to the gorgeous, private rooms to the hikes and the late-night drinks, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better hostel for the price than Coffee Shack.
Experience the "real Africa"
The only options to enter this piece of paradise is by bus or car. If you’re taking a bus, it stops at a petrol station 100km from the hostel. A shuttle from the hostel fetches you from the petrol station, but ensure that you arrive before the last shuttle at 3.30pm. (Call ahead of time to book a seat on the shuttle!) Nicknamed “The Wild Coast,” this region of the Transkei is home to the Xhosa (pronounced with a “click”) people and is easily the place where most travellers leave feeling like they’ve just experienced the “real Africa”.
Tribal authorities still hold weight here and don’t be surprised if the hostel’s staff start talking to one another in their own language as all of them are local Xhosa people. Huts dotting the hillsides, witchdoctors’ presence felt in the villages: the cultural tours are the best way to see the locals and understand the culture. Or, ask the staff how you can help with making dinner and ask them questions and they will give you all the answers you need.
A wide array of rooms at reasonable prices
There are a multitude of options for beds at Coffee Shack: tents, dorm beds, private rooms and en-suite rooms. They also include a fifth night free option - don’t be surprised if you end up staying that long. Most of the rooms are on site but if you’re seeking a bit more solitude, especially for couples and families, there are traditional thatched huts (dorms, doubles and en-suite rooms) across the river and at cheap, backpacker rates - the rooms range from 5 USD (dorms) to 30 USD for a double en-suite room.
There’s free Wi-FI available in the rooms and laundry service as well. The restaurant has your meals and drinks covered with a full English breakfast for 35 ZAR (approximately 2.3 USD), a beer for a dollar and a two-course dinner for the low price of 4 USD. And don’t worry, the staff ensure every meal is delicious and appetizing.
Surf, hike or abseil, you can do them all here
If you’ve ever been curious about surfing, Coffee Bay is the best place to learn. Lessons, which start at 50 ZAR (approximately 3 USD) and all-year-round good conditions make it an excellent location for both beginners and professionals. Dave Malherbe, the owner of Coffee Shack, is a Pro-Am World Title holder and surfs competitively, which ensures that you are in good hands.
If spending a day being zen on the water isn’t your vibe, there are several options for day trips, tours and activities that might whet your appetite. From the coastal hike to the mapuzi cliffs and cafes to abseiling, Coffee Bay is remote enough that any adventure sport can be enjoyed here - all of these can be arranged through the hostel itself. Just make sure you don’t party too hard the night before!
A wonderful experience awaits you in South Africa
An experience at the Coffee Shack is nothing without the wonderful staff who are accommodating, genuine and all around good people. They give you the utmost attention and if any problems are to arise, they solve them immediately and easily. They really do ensure that you have the best time possible in one of the most beautiful locations in South Africa. They may even give you a nickname! So, if you’ve ever craved a bit of surfing, a classic Braai - South African BBQ - or are interested in Xhosa culture and customs, go check out Coffee Shack. You won’t regret it.
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