Marooned along Oceana's Beach Reserve

2013-07-09 11:14
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Oceana: Best of beach and bush

We check out the Ocean Beach and Wilderness Reserve in the Eastern Cape - showcasing some of the best SA has to offer when it comes to a luxury holiday escape.

If there are two things South Africa is renowned for, it would be a beach or bush holiday experience.

Just outside the Eastern Cape town of Port Alfred, you can have the best of both – all while being immersed in utter five-star luxury.

The prologue trip

It is always interesting to head out to the not-so-busy airports of South Africa, Port Elizabeth Airport in particular. It acts as a springboard to a number of interesting and lesser-explored draw-cards of the province, including Samara and Shamwari.

Stop in at Kenton-on-Sea for a taster of the area's pristine beaches. During the summer months it is an absolute hive of holidaymakers, but the quieter winter months beg to be taken advantage of. The weather is still sunny and the setting ideal for cocktails, delicious seafood and a walk along the beach.

But for this particular trip we were headed to the Ocean Beach and Wildlife Reserve, accompanying a film crew for the Travel Channel. The programme filmed at the resort is still being primed and polished for release later this year (Embargoes are finicky things aren’t they!?) but we’ll keep you posted.

If you’re accustomed to getting your bushwhacking fix in Kruger, this might be the perfect opportunity for you to try something out of the ordinary…

The wildlife

Do you agree that a really authentic bush experience needs to be miles and miles in the middle of nowhere?

If so, Oceana certainly challenges that perception. I must admit, it can be slightly off-putting to spot a truck scooting along the highway that runs along the 660 hectare property’s perimeter. But it all fades to grey as the reserve’s rhino creep out of the typical Eastern Cape greenery. They’re just magnificent.

And for a city slicker who is accustomed to getting stuck in traffic, I’m more than okay with this highway in the distance. Why? According to our Oceana guide, the reserve's location and size considerably decreases a sniper-style attack on these endangered beasts. They're under constant surveillance and no helicopter or any other modus operandi used by poachers is going to go unnoticed here, that’s for sure.

Like we said, it’s totally different to Kruger. Your chances of seeing the reserve’s white rhino are almost guaranteed, along with the other resident zebra, gemsbok, giraffe, kudu and sable to mention a few.

And while 'prolific bird life' seems to be a term used all too often, at Oceana you'll be stumped if you don't bring along a set of binoculars, a birding guide book and a powerful photographic lens if you're that way inclined. It really is a colourful, bag of all-sorts.

The cuisine

Staying at Oceana is an intimate experience, with a distinct boutique charm about it. The staff plays a considerable part in creating it, taking the time to inquire about your needs and share relevant info and advice without ever really becoming imposing or overbearing. This type of candour cannot be faked. It really goes a long way when an establishment gets the team dynamic right and I think Oceana is onto a good thing, all the way from its general manager to the bar staff, who go out of their way to shake you up a margarita.

But where I think the team really excels, is in the food. Be it in executing a fine a la carte menu or a themed buffet evening, you will feast like royalty during your stay. But don’t take my word for it, check out our Oceana Beach and Reserve gallery to see some of the mouth-watering treats. The Gemsbok fillet, curry with papadum and sambal as well as the chocolate fondant and cheese board stole the show for me.

And while the name might imply otherwise, the Splattered Toad house wines are quite delicious - and they’re helping to save its namesake, well the Western Leopard Toad to be specific currently under threat due to urbanisation.

The tranquil luxury

The most striking thing about the Oceana reserve is its insane ability to make you feel like you’ve been moored on an island, as the balcony balistrades mimic an ocean liner deck and the sprawling windows of each of the suites offer uninterrupted, breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean.

We took a rather bumpy ride down to the beach front to the reserve's 7kms of untouched, private beachfront that adds to this lost on a tropical island atmosphere. Once there you’ll discover a sundeck framing the ocean backdrop. Don’t be fooled though, it’s quite a walk down to the water’s edge, with a sand dune or two to cross – but that’s part of what adds to its unspoilt naturalness.

Honeymooners wanting to go local in a spectacular way should most certainly add this to their list of considerations.

More about the accommodation at Oceana:
There are three Lodge Suites situated in the main lodge, plus four Ocean Suites designed for privacy  -  each boasting a private deck, offering beautiful views of the bush and ocean. In addition to this there are three suites in the Private Ocean House – all naturally tucked away in the reserve’s forest ambiance.   All suites have king-sized beds, a sleeper couch, en-suite “His” (double shower) & “Hers” (jet-bath) bathrooms, a tea & coffee making station as well as a mini-bar.  Space is available to include an additional bed for a third child, where necessary.

Facilities include:

- Dining Room and lounge as social spaces
- Fully equipped spa with single therapy room and steam room
- Gym: treadmills, weights, walker, rowing machine, stepper and Pilates ball
- Library
- Swimming Pool
- Games Room with pool table, shuffle board, movie theatre and guest computers
- Cigar humidor
- Boma area for outdoor drinks and/or dining
- Deck with 180 degree ocean view
- Lounge with bar and casual lunch venue
- Complimentary wireless internet is available throughout
- Curio Shop
- Child-minding services available on request
- Laundry services available on request
- Complimentary transfers onto the beach where towels, water, sunblock, day beds and loungers are provided.

Visit the Oceana Beach and Wilderness Reserve website for more infomation and booking details.

Read more on:    eastern cape  |  travel  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle  |  bush  |  beach

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