Perfect pocket of serenity
East London - Stuck in a stand-off on a rickety, single-lane bridge, I wondered if driving seven hours to get from the Wild Coast Sun to its Fish River Sun cousin was worth it.
The same thought crossed my mind looking at the petrol warning sign, somewhere in the haunting serenity of Qunu.
Happily, there was relief in the next town and I finally walked into Fish River Sun. All I wanted was bed, which meant that the Friday night braai buffet missed me. Judging by the full tables, perhaps I should have found the will to grab a chop – or three.
The next morning, feeling infinitely better about life, I was woken by the sound of kids giggling and music in the background. I figured I was still dreaming, but when the DJ announced the “next race”, a peep through the curtain revealed a hive of activity. My stay coincided with an annual mountain biking weekend.
Looking out to the pool area, the kiddies’ play area and then, there far below, the sun glistening off the ocean, I knew that the trek had been well worth it.
Breakfast was a busy affair, but the Champagne on tap soon stirred me. Fish River Sun’s Champagne breakfast on weekends is so popular that patrons drive from afar, then spend the rest of the day either playing golf or wandering off to the hotel’s beach on the complimentary buggy.
There is plenty to do at the Fish River Sun. Hiking, night drives, boat cruises, fishing and bird-spotting. But I had come for the golf course, considered a hidden gem from a bygone era. My partner was Francois, director of golf, and we happened upon two East London buddies on the first hole who decided to put a friendly wager on the game.
No sooner had they laid down the gauntlet, did yours truly chip in for birdie on the opening hole. “Are you sure you’ve never played here before?” came the banter.
It was love at first sight, and I toured the quaint, but devilish, layout in level par and Francois and I were already collecting our winnings by the 16th hole.
The front nine is lengthier, and flatter, with natural bush hiding its beauty, but the course turns into something quite spectacular.
Standing on the 12th tee-box, looking down the dog-leg, and beyond to the beach, you realise why so many golfers consider “The Fish” as a must-do. You don’t really need a driver on the back – in fact, you dare not take it on some of the sharper dog-legs.
But you will be tempted to take out the big stick on the 16th, which hugs the ocean on the left and dares you to try and carry the river mouth that guards the green in two shots. Once you’ve crossed, do take a moment on the bridge to take in the spectacular window to the sea.
The course – designed by Gary Player and opened in 1989 – was in fabulous nick and, once the wind came up, par became quite an achievement. But, like all memorable layouts, no sooner have you tapped in on the 18th, you are enquiring about playing again.
We spent our winnings at the bar before freshening up for supper.
The seafood buffet banquet that is a Saturday tradition had the masses standing like boarders at a primary school. Prawns, grilled before your eyes, were fresh and plentiful, as were an assortment of other sea dwellers. It was impossible not to go back for seconds, and all the time the dining hall was full of chatter, about biking, or golfing, or just being in a perfect pocket of serenity.
I had to will myself to put the golf clubs into the boot the next morning, as the temptation of another quick round played in my mind. But the road called, across the stunning Tsitsikama region.
l Call 040 676 1101 or visit www.suninternational.com
First Car Rental is proud to be the car hire company of choice to drive the Sunday Tribune’s Lungani Zama to experience the best in luxury lifestyle. Zama travelled to Fish River Sun in Port Alfred.
Set on the magnificent Eastern Cape coastline, the resort boasts breath-taking views and state-of-the-art entertainment facilities for the whole family. Experience the Eastern Cape with First Car Rental – www.firstcarrental.co.za
Lungani Zama, Sunday Tribune