Port St Francis is a little but bustling harbour in St Francis Bay. It serves the greater St Francis area as a place to put your private boat, or launch a fishing vessel from. In fact, even though it is the only privately owned port in South Africa, it has a busy fishing fleet of its own. Taking a stroll on any given day will give you a wonderful view of the chokka boats tied up at the piers. Listen to the call of the gulls and watch the fishermen unload their catch, or grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants on offer.
Many of the residents of St Francis keep their private yachts or boats tied at the harbour. The long wall protects them from inherent weather as it has done for many decades. As a visitor you are able to get a great view of the various boats, some of which come from all over the world. Keep an eye out for fishermen sitting mending their nets, or unloading their catch. If you want to get the best fresh produce and the best fishing action, then be sure to get to the harbour quite early in the morning. Generally the boats go out in the tiny hours, and get back at about 9am depending on weather. Bring the kids, some cash, watch the action, and grab some fish to take back for a braai.
Unlike many other harbours in South Africa, Port St Francis is only a few decades old. In the mid 1980’s chokka, or squid, was discovered in the waters off the point. Fishermen of all sorts flocked to the waters to get the bit of the “white gold” as it was called. Calamari is one of the most popular seafoods in every corner of the world, and the squid off the St Francis coast was particularly good. Initially boats launched from the nearby Kromme River, but eventually the need grew great enough that a harbour was forged out of the rocky coast.
Both harbour walls were completed in 1997, bringing with it much needed economy to the small town of St Francis Bay. There are over 200 moorings for a variety of boats, including pleasure craft and fishing vessels.
The harbour now houses not only boats, but a whole office complex and a number of Mediterranean inspired apartments. Shops selling various goods can be found along the harbour, many of which are aimed at visitors. There are, of course, a number of seafood restaurants as well who get the best, freshest food straight from the boats every day.
A slightly more upmarket restaurant that specializes in seafood, but has something for everyone on the menu. Have a glass of wine while watching the sun set and the fishing vessels fade gently into velvet darkness.
The Pub serves typical light pub lunches with a wide selection of drinks to accompany them. Catch the local game on the big screen, or have a fascinating conversation with a salty regular.
All in all, Port St Francis is a fabulous day out for the whole family. Be it a raudy lunch where the beer and chips flow in equal measure, or a family outing with all the wonders of the sea, you are guaranteed not to come away disappointed!