Choose your country and language:


  • Global
  • Angola
  • Botswana
  • DRC
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nigeria
  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe


  • USA
  • Argentina
  • Brazil

Asia Pacific

  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia


  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • United Kingdom

SSouth Africa is amazing from coast to coast, but sometimes you just have to venture a little further out to sea, to appreciate more of the beauty that this country has to offer. Lying just off the coast of Port Elizabeth, you’ll find a scattered constellation of tiny islands called The Bird Island Group Marine Protected Area.

Why Bird Island? These islands are a critical habitat for the sadly endangered African penguins and Cape gannets. Obviously you can’t waltz onto the island like you own the place, but it is an amazing place to cruise along on a boat, especially for you bird (and shark) lovers out there.

They may not be large – some are not much more than glorified rocky surfaces poking out of the sea – but they are home to South Africa’s greatest colonies of Cape gannets, African penguins, roseate terns, Antarctic terns and kelp gulls.

As Addo Elephant National Park has expanded seawards, these islands have come under the protective wing of South African National Parks.

Did You Know?
TThere is a lighthouse on Bird Island, and the birds are used to humans coming and going.

TThe islands are also classified as Important Bird Areas and with good reason. The gannet and penguin populations in the country are particularly dependent on these pieces of land.

SSwimming below the surface of the surrounding ocean are Great White sharks that prey on the many seals living on a little island called Black Rocks. Sticking with the ocean, there are also many species of whales mulling around the area including the glorious Southern Right whales.

Other whales that are somewhat less flamboyant than the lolling, breaching, lob-tailing Southern Rights include the speedy Bryde’s whales and singing Humpbacks heading north on an annual migration between May and November.

If you go out on a boat cruise in and around the islands, be sure to keep a lookout for Bottlenose dolphins and other species of dolphins as well. Basically, if you love nature of the marine variety, you’ll be right at home here!

Bird Island, Port Elizabeth

When to visit
How to get here

TThe protection given by declaring a no-fishing zone in part of the Bird Island Group Marine Protected Area resulted in a resurgence of certain fish stocks. And the immediate beneficiaries were the penguins, who didn’t have to swim so far to find sardines and anchovies.

Going on a boat cruise is the only way of really appreciating these islands, since they’re not really places tourists can land and explore. No diving is really allowed here either what with the heavy Great White shark presence in the area. Nobody wants to be on a shark’s dinner menu.

Next time you’re in the Eastern Cape, take a trip to the Bird Island Group Marine Protected Area. Let nature reveal its beauty and inspire you to always help protect her.

Who to contact
How to get here
Best time to visit
What to pack
Where to stay
What to eat

Related articles

Explore the rugged, intensely beautiful mountain ranges of South Africa

Breathtaking scenery
Explore the rugged, intensely beautiful mountain ranges of South Africa

From the flattest to the tallest to the oldest to prettiest to the most dramatic,South African mountain ranges are astounding.

The Otter Trail - the trail of a lifetime

Breathtaking scenery
The Otter Trail - the trail of a lifetime

From your first steps to your last, with river crossings, lush forests, sandy beaches and breathtaking vistas, the Otter Trail will change your life.

Travellers encouraged to do #WaterWiseTourism in South Africa

Breathtaking scenery
Travellers encouraged to do #WaterWiseTourism in South Africa

Water scarcity does not mean you should delay or cancel your trip – South Africa is ready to welcome you on a once in a lifetime adventure while encouraging visitors to use water responsibly when travelling through our beautiful country.

Enchanted Mountain – Hogsback

Breathtaking scenery
Enchanted Mountain – Hogsback

The little town of Hogsback has become an arts and crafts colony, a photographer’s preferred location, a nature lover’s haunt and a honeymoon couple’s top choice of romantic hideaways in the Eastern Cape.

Take an unforgettable road trip in the Great Karoo

Breathtaking scenery
Take an unforgettable road trip in the Great Karoo

Spanning nearly 400 000km2 in the geographic midriff of South Africa, the Great Karoo must be one of the quietest places on Earth.

Tsitsikamma – a coastal adventure you’ll never forget

Breathtaking scenery
Tsitsikamma – a coastal adventure you’ll never forget

If you’re looking for the complete coastal forest experience, Tsitsikamma, in the Eastern Cape has to be on the top of your list.

South Africa on social media

Copyright © 2018 South African Tourism
|Terms and conditions|Disclaimer|Privacy policy