Trekking across the shifting sands of nostalgia


The imposing sand dunes of Sardinia Bay eclipse what lies beyond. Trekking up is a test of muscle, while getting down the other side takes some sliding. The reward is a secluded beach, where ripples of water glimmer in the sun, the earthy smell of fynbos fills the air, and the waves lapping the land echo through the hills. For Pippa Francis, a tinge of nostalgia colours these sands. “I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world,” she says.

Francis spent her childhood holidays here with family, playing frisbee and sandboarding. The dunes are a defining element of the beach, continually shifting under the influence of strong winds. Not many are willing to walk up, possibly the reason why the beach remains relatively quiet. “It’s an often forgotten part of the coastline, but well worth exploring,” Francis says. The bay is a marine protected area and fishing is not allowed, but the crystal waters are perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Every so often, a kite surfer glides across the placid sea and horse riders canter along the sand.

Sardinia Bay is just a twenty-minute drive away from the city of Port Elizabeth. It’s also the starting point of the Sacramento Hiking Trail, a popular eight-kilometre route that takes hikers down the coastline. While the beach always evokes happy memories for Francis, it’s her present experience, walking through the shallow waves, that cements her love for South Africa. “It’s good to take a second to stop and remember the beautiful country that we live in,” she says. “Sardinia Bay is one of those places that should be celebrated.”